The $100 Scramble: Topside Sweeps

In the early 90s, most kids were watching “Clarissa Explains It All” or “Legends of the Hidden Temple.” Nickelodeon was okay, I guess, but for me, Lifetime was where it was at. Ugly teal sweatshirts, the Round Robin and blowup candy bars were the things of my childhood afternoons. Whenever I heard that beep, I thought of the fun I could be having on Supermarket Sweep.

As a child, most kids probably aspire to fly to the moon or be a profressional baseball player. Not me. All I wanted was a minute and twenty seconds to run around a fake supermarket in an ugly sweatshirt.

But this never happened. The best I could do was to follow my mom to the supermarket on Sunday mornings and run around while she compared prices on two-ply toilet paper. She’d tell me items to fetch — two frozen TV dinners, a can of refried beans and a bag of kosher cocktail weenies — and I’d see how quickly I find them.

My hopes of competing on Supermarket Sweep shattered when the show was canceled in 1998. I never fulfilled that Lifetime dream of oversized cheese wheels and blowup packs of chewing gum. Luckily, thanks to the PAX network, I can still live out my childhood fantasy every afternoon when I watch the lucky contestants grind their coffee and stock up on turkeys (always, always get the turkeys first) and fill up on diapers and over the counter meds (the trick to the meds, of course, is that they cost the most money but take up the least amount of room in your cart). I’m especially good at the fill in the blanks and the little rhyming poems:

WHEN YOU CLEAN THE FRAT

AND GET RID OF THE VOMIT

YOU’LL GO OVER THE MOON

WITH FAST ACTING – – – – -.

The answer is Comet, obvi. I’m sure only the hardcore fans caught the moon/Comet pun that was oh-so-typical of host David Ruprecht. Yes, I know the host’s name. Check out his website at DavidRuprecht.com.

I always thought my mom and I would make an excellent team. I’m a quick thinker and she, well, she knows where the Comet is.

But nonetheless, the show came and went and I never became a contestant.

So I decided to create a game show of my own. With the rumored 1,800 different items in stock, what better venue than Topside convenience store? I started drooling thinking of the possibilities. And what perfect timing — DDS just proposed changing Topside expenditures to a Commie system where each student is capped at $100. I hauled my ass to Topside to see what I could squeeze into my cart — er, shopping basket. I started running around and timed myself to see how quickly I could reach DDS’ new Topside ration. So I put a twist on the classic Supermarket Sweep. Instead of spending as much as possible, I tested how quickly I could hit my limit. Without blowup bananas and an aisle five special on Gold Bond Medicated Powder, just how easy would it be to rack up 100 bucks worth of Topside sundries? Our campus is freaking out about a cap on their Topside spending and I found out that this is rightfully so — I wasn’t able to stay below my 100 dollar cap in a matter of seconds, let alone a full term.

To test just how far 100 Topside-dollars won’t go, I headed for the big items first in true Supermarket Sweep fashion. Topside doesn’t sell imported cheese wheels or Huggies, so I opted for the $12.19 bottles of Tide Free Ultra detergent (free? Twelve bucks ain’t free, so it better be effin’ ultra as hell).

I headed over to the toiletries, figuring that DDS would at least allow me enough money to stock up on essential items. I grabbed a pack of the ten-day Crest whitening strips. At a reasonable $59.01, why not? Just a drop in the ration bucket. If the strips had cost $59.02, my not-so-pearly whites would have remained that way, but $59.01 seemed like the fair price. I grabbed tampons, another essential, at a measly $10.61. Ten bucks for a box of cardboard tampons? At ten bucks I’d hope the box come with sexy little man inside to stick ‘em up there for me.

So with two bottles of detergent, a set of whitening strips, and a box of tampons, I spent 94 of my 100 dollars in less than 30 seconds. I grabbed a tube of toothpaste and reached my spending limit with impressive timing.

A hundred bucks doesn’t get you very far at Topside, so I decided to survey people around campus to see how everyone plans on spending their ration. I headed to the first floor of Robo to talk to some DOC kids hanging around chopping wood. Crunchy dude ’07 said he would opt for $50.01 worth of trail mix, $25.01 in Nature Valley Trail Mix bars and $25.03 on organic Odwallas. I begged him to buy a bar of soap and some shampoo. No word on that yet.

I ventured into a frat basement on Wednesday night where totally sweet dude ’06 was kind enough to take a break from his superdoming to tell me he’d spend $25 on Maxims and Power Bars, and the remaining $75 on Ultra Thin Her Pleasure Trojans. Personally, I’m pretty sure they’re just gonna be hanging out of his top drawer, conveniently, to add to the supersweet aura of his grimy frat bedroom. He might use one, or like, two. Eventually.

I bumped into a girl wearing ribbons in her hair and a Wellesley cable knit sweater. She told me she’d spend $33 on white bread, $33 on milk and $33 on mayo. (Actually, I don’t really get this one. I hang out with Jews mostly, but I’m told this is what WASPs eat. Sorry if it’s offensive. It probably is).

Jocky athlete ’09 said he’s going to buy Powerade with his 100 dollars. That’s all. Which is convenient (no pun intended), because making fun of jocks is getting kind of old.

Self-conscious girl ’07 said she’d buy a Glamour magazine and a 6-pack of Dasani water before heading to the elliptical for three hours.

But in all seriousness, I’m not really sure how I’m going to spend my $100. With the breadth of options that Topside provides, there’ll be some tough choices. At last count, Topside has 14 varieties of Goldfish, nine varieties of Milano cookies and nine types of maple syrup (and eight of them of real). So many options, so few Topside dollars.

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