If the mall is the place you go to when you need to purchase various types of things, Sears might as well be a mall all on its own. Only a lower-middle tier department store like Sears can get away with carrying both name brand clothes and auto parts. It's truly all-encompassing. Kitchen appliances, shoes, throw pillows - Sears has it all. I remember one time leaving Sears with a grill brush, some Dockers pants, and a season of South Park on DVD. Not a bad haul at all from a store that ranks just above Target in the American department store hierarchy. But this is far from my most lasting Sears memory.

That episode took place when I was ten years old. My mom had put me in an itchy sweater and my sisters in dresses and brought the three of us to Sears. At the time, they had a "portraits" department, and my mom was in the mood to get some professional pictures taken of her darling children without paying top dollar. So there we were. A few snapshots into my photoshoot, I began to feel a little bit light-headed. I voiced my complaints, but as a ten-year-old kid, had them shot down fairly quickly. As more and more pictures were taken, I became more and more restless and nauseous. The photographer claimed my discomfort was just due to the bright light and that I'd be done soon. I managed to last the entire session, but not a moment longer.

On the way out of the studio, emerging back into Sears proper, I keeled over and started vomiting. My spray covered a solid sixty-degree vertical arc, and I managed to project for a distance of several feet. No longer fit for consumer purchase was an entire rack of blouses immediately in front of me and a few wallets and checkbooks at the base of a stand a few feet farther back. My mother was mortified, the salespeople were apologetic, and the custodian who eventually came by to clean up the mess was enjoying a good-natured chuckle at the whole thing. It is worth noting that his arsenal consisted of a spray bottle and a roll of paper towels, and nothing more.

Sadly, that was only my second-most-infamous public display of vomiting. One fateful day in eighth grade, I came back from lunch feeling a little under the weather. It quickly worsened. My "language arts" class (that is what they called English in my hometown middle school, for whatever reason) was off to the "media center" (library) for a lesson on how to use books, or something. I must admit, I have no idea what the lesson was on, as I was hardly paying any attention to it, being that my stomach contents were ready to explode upward with great velocity. But I was a tough guy. I wanted to weather the storm. A little tummy ache was never supposed to derail a big bad eighth grader. Besides, after this library session and a math class and a bus ride, I'd be home free. No need to rush off to the nurse or the bathroom. Never mind that I wouldn't be in the clear for another ninety minutes, while my condition had been rapidly worsening. I was going to make it. I had to. I was, at thirteen years of age, a man, dammit.

What I really was, at thirteen years of age, was a dumbass. Would anyone have really cared if I had gone to the nurse's office? Of course not. But for whatever reason, I was determined not to. So there I sat, holding back vomit, forehead getting sweaty, trying to ignore a conversation going on behind me about kids eating chapstick (in my present state, a revolting concept indeed). With mere minutes to go before the class change, I finally could no longer take it. I stood up to head to the nurse's, but the mere act of standing was enough to send shockwaves through my shivering body. I got to the library's doorway and threw up in my mouth, cheeks puffing out and everything. I swallowed it back down, knowing that the nurse's office was just down the hallway, and pushed open the door.

Calamity. The hallway right outside the library was filled with a science class doing a loud experiment of some sort. "Hey there!" shouted a friend of mine at me, merrily. "Bluargh!" I responded. And just like that, I was no tough guy at all. This upchuck exceeded even my Sears Portraits one. There was vomit everywhere. I mean, everywhere. There was vomit all over the floor, creating a puddle that spanned the width of the hallway. A total roadblock for anyone who didn't want to get the retch on their Adidas sneakers. There was vomit on my New Found Glory shirt. There was vomit on some poor girl's locker, and far worse, due to the weird ventilation holes on the door, perhaps there was some vomit inside of it. Kids went nuts. Some shrieked. Some laughed. Some went silent. One screamed, "that's awesome!" pretty much immediately. A few ran to grab a teacher. One passerby was just absolutely roaring with a giggle fit as he held his nose and jumped over the spill while strolling down the hallway. I was thoroughly and utterly embarrassed. Vomit had conquered me in front of all of my classmates at a time when the pressure to be cool was at its height. I could easily have ducked out ten minutes prior, made it to the nurse's office with ease, and saved some face. But no. I had to try to outlast a stomach virus, and instead ended up making an absolute chunderdome out of the hallway. Plus, I graduated with the distinction of being the last kid in my grade to ralph in school. But hey, it could have been worse; I could have been one of the three kids who shit their pants in high school.

I guess I've kind of veered off subject, but what I'm trying to say is, Sears is an underrated store with a lot to offer.

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