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Game Note: There is a drinking game waiting for you in this blog, should you care to give it a try. Every time you see a reference to The Big Bang Theory, take a shot. If you’re under the drinking age, eat a cheerio. And in the comment sections start calling out the references you find. Next week I am going to highlight them all and see who wins a very valuable prize for getting the most correct.

So I have joined millions of members everywhere in the world who are participating in a sampathon on the weekends. And I’ve found the meaning and purpose of life:

Sampathoning. (I’m not insane, my mother had me tested!)

Defined as consuming multiple sample foods cut up into small pieces in tiny paper cups handed out to you by people wearing hair coverings and a huge smile until your belly is hurting and you still have aisles upon aisles of sampling ahead of you.

Costco. It’s where sampathoning has indeed been PERFECTED. I have developed quite a little system where my happiness can be found.

Unless some asshat steals the last sample I was reaching for. Then I just want to shank.

But back to the happiness. So I have been a Costco member for two whole weeks and I have already developed a routine that leaves my husband breathless, my wallet lighter and my belly bigger. I’ve already tasted tested this method in excess of six times in two weeks. I know, that three-day weekend really gave me an opportunity.

And here’s my method for those of you who can’t figure out how to achieve perfection in one shot. Keep in mind this is my local Costco, but from what I gather from the employees they are all basically laid out the same.

And if yours is laid out differently, well is sucks to be you doesn’t it?

First off, enter the store through the exit. I know, I know, you’re confused. Just trust me, get to the hotdog seller and get yourself a hotdog and soda- light ice. That’s the important part. Watery soda will make you nauseous.

Now, exit with hotdog and re-enter through correct door. DO NOT DRINK YOUR SODA. Start eating your hotdog as you move up the right hand aisles. You may take up to 8 aisles to complete your hotdog, there are no samples other than ones for cleaning products. And you can’t eat those, I asked.

Some of those cleaning agents are presented in paper cups and can be goddamn confusing to small children and chubby adults. Or adults who are so excited to get their sampathon on that they go that extra mile. To the ER.

If you haven’t finished your hotdog by aisle nine, call it a day and go home. You’re screwed and won’t get what your membership is worth in samples on this day.

Second, resist the urge to browse the center aisles along with the right aisles as you will inevitably run out of room in your belly. And you’ll get so distracted by the fun stuff that you’ll fill your cart and your hubby will make you leave. Damn novice.

Now by the ninth right aisle you can take a sip, A SIP, of your soda. If you have someone with you, hold onto your soda. If you are shopping alone, throw out your soda now. There are trash cans all over the place. Just do it.

Don’t get cocky here; there are no urination breaks. That is back up at the front and you are far away from the Emerald City you’ll need should you drink too much.

Okay, you are now ready to get down to business. Cut over to the back center aisle and enjoy the samples they are giving out on either end as you make your way towards the front of the store.

Now this is very important. Do not jump over to the left hand aisle samples. You need to pace yourself. Make your way up to the front of the store while GUZZLING your soda. But only if you have someone with you. Then, once you have eaten and drank your way to the front center of the store you can make a run for the potty.

Now here is where the mouth breathers get separated from the rest of society. Remember when I told you if you were alone you had to throw out your soda? And remember that you didn’t listen? And you left your cart to go urinate? And some workers snatched it up and it’s gone when you come back out? It must be humbling to suck on so many levels. You should have listened. It’s an efficient place with lots of shopping competition. I won’t hesitate to steal shit from your cart if you are too stupid to follow procedure.

Whew! You’ve gone potty, hopefully the kids went potty, and now you can make it through the sample extravaganza that is sitting in the frozen foods section.

A note for people with children: You will be passing by the toy section on your way to the next step. If you value your life, veer off (again) and let them touch the toys they love and need (again). Good parent, very good parent. Who’s a good parent? You’re a good parent. Wow, you’re just a blonde monkey, aren’t you?

Ok, head straight up between the center and left aisles. DO NOT veer left into the aisles, just walk straight to the back of the store.

First of all you novice, your food will be getting warm in your cart and second, you’ll miss the center aisle crap you didn’t see the first time since your about to burst bladder was blocking your vision. Keep your eyes peeled though and grab every sample on your way back. EVERY SAMPLE! And yes, you already grabbed some of the samples on your way down, pretend you have a twin if anyone asks.

Ok, you made it to the back of the left aisles. Now wind your way up to the front of the store (again. Hey, no one said this would be easy. It’s an -athon. That means it’s hard and requires endurance). I often forget other people have limitations. It’s so sad.

Now, remember how you grabbed all the samples on your way back from the potty??? Grab them again! In addition to the samples on the far side of the freezer. These are always the best. They hide all the high-end stuff here. Like meat. Lots of meat is being given out here. Organic meat. You know that means it tastes the same as your meat but costs so much more. But it’s free, free, free and I take my fill!

Side note: I think one sample giver thought I was a set of quintuplets who shop together. I let her believe what she needed. True sampathoners will circle an aisle because they “forgot” to get an item they swear was one aisle back, conveniently placing you in sample reaching distance once again.

As you make your way to the front of the store you may experience signs of a mild heart attack. First off, if you suffer from heart or health problems you should not be following my technique. It WILL kill you. Second, look for one of the managers who is always posted around the butcher station. It’s like they know this is where people get into trouble.

Once you make it safely past Heart Attack Manor (At my age do you know how I’m statistically most likely to die?) you are in the home stretch.

You finally make it to the front. You’re leaning on your cart and hoping some kind person will tell you which line seems to move quickly. You’re sleepy and someone is asking something about boxes. You mumble yes and swipe your card for 50 cents for all you care at this point. Your belly is full and your feet ache- Ah, gravity – you are a heartless bitch.

You get home and find the will to unload the perishable items before taking a nap. Once you revive yourself you finish unloading and look at your bill. Your head WILL pop, but just remember:

You’ve just participated in the freaking Disneyland of sampathoning. And you’d do it all over with a smile on your face.

Here’s a guide in case you are confused.

P.S. If your spouse of significant other starts to lay into you about what you spent, you have obviously not been in charge of the finances long enough. If, and I repeat IF, my spouse notices what I spent I calmly say that product “A” would cost me so much at Amazon, “B” would cost so much at Target, “C” would cost this at the Navy Exchange and by the time I get to “D” my husband is walking away and worshipping the almighty financier of this union. And remember once you open the box it loses its value. (even if Costco will actually still let you return it. Lie dammit!)

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