What is Wal-Mart?

I was 8 when National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation was released.  I didn’t see it in theaters but I saw it when it came out on VHS a bit later.

There are many iconic scenes in the movie, of course, but I remember being little and asking my Mom what Wal-Mart was.  Clark Griswold ended up in a Wal-Mart parking lot after sledding down the hill (shattering all land-speed records, as I recall) and he and Cousin Eddie also have a great scene inside a Wal-Mart buying gifts (which ended up mostly being dog food).

I had no idea what Wal-Mart was at the time. We didn’t have any in Southern California (that I’m aware of). It wasn’t until the 1992 presidential election when Ross Perot kept talking about Wal-Mart that I learned what a huge chain they are.

Now Wal-Mart is everywhere.  Even China has Wal-Mart, and it’s stocked full of stuff made, conveniently enough, in China.  Babies have been born in Wal-Mart, stray kids and adults have camped in Wal-Mart, and people die in Wal-Mart on an almost yearly basis on Black Friday.

It’s crazy to think that more than half the country at the time was immersed in the Wal-Mart craze while the rest of us had no idea what it was. And now that I know about it, I can’t “un-know” it.  Darn evil empire and all…though I did buy a shiny new television there….

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