Normally when I go to a store where everything costs one dollar, the only mystery I’m prepared for is how coarse and unpleasant toilet paper can be. A recent trip to a nearby Dollar Tree offered a more pronounced mystery in the form of so-called grab bags, which were strewn about a rack that taunted, “We know you just love surprises!” Families who shop at the Dollar Tree are known for their love of surprises, such as the surprise that they only have twenty-eight dollars per week to spend on groceries, or the surprise that Christmas is being canceled due to mother's crystal meth addiction. These grab bags merge poor people’s penchant for surprise with their complete lack of taste.

The grab bags were divided into three categories: blue (“a surprise for a boy”), pink (“a surprise for a girl”), and green (I have no idea in hell what kind of bag this is). I decided to compose a comparative analysis of these grab bags by purchasing one of each type and sharing my findings, even though I knew full well that opening three mystery bags in succession might give me a heart attack, or that the contents of my new bags could compel me to commit suicide. But at a total cost of $3, I really couldn’t complain about the fine value.

A Surprise For a Boy

1 Green slinky
4 Decks of cards

It is an exciting day to be a boy. It is true that everyone loves a slinky, but only a boy can appreciate the nuance of using the slinky as a kind of tube prison for his G.I. Joes, or whipping the slinky around at his friend. My earth science teacher in middle school used a slinky to demonstrate the P-waves and S-waves of an earthquake; no thanks, Mr. Strempek—I demonstrated how to drop an F-bomb and got the hell out of that class. Slinkys aren't for learning, they're for slinking. This particular slinky, unfortunately, is particularly shoddy. My G.I. Joes escaped after about a minute.

When you’re finished with your slinky, it is time to play with your four decks of cards. I don’t know any card game that requires four separate decks—or for that matter any card game in which gambling or alcohol isn’t prominently involved. Now is a good time for a boy to learn about these activities as he struggles with the fact that his mom allowed the employees of the Dollar Tree to select his birthday gifts this year.

A Surprise For a Girl

3 Empty pink bottles
1 Empty pink container
1 Pink loofah
1 Mirror
2 Packages of facial tissue 

Instead of printing that pink “grab bag” motif across this bag, perhaps they should have just called it a “garbage bag” and saved me the trouble of opening it up. Included are a bunch of empty plastic containers, some tissues, and a loofah, which is girl for “spongy body wash applicator.” Yes, fellows, you can fling the loofah at a group of G.I. Joes and pretend that it’s some sort of missile, but after some preliminary research I’ve concluded that this provides no more than a scant few hours of entertainment. The only other application for you males would be to hang it up in your shower and pretend that you have a girlfriend.

If you’ve purchased the pink grab bag, though, you’re probably a girl, in which case you could always use another loofah. Maybe a new loofah is what you need to actually become pretty. The empty plastic containers I’m not so sure about. You could put shampoo in them, I suppose, but why are you buying shampoo that doesn’t already come in its own bottle? Maybe the plastic bottles are to teach girls how to recycle, since that’s the only humane thing to do with their new grab bag toys. The mirror is useful for reflecting that priceless look of disappointment as girls open up their bag.

I hope you girls enjoy blowing your nose while imagining what it would be like to own hotel shampoo—I’ve got to go play four simultaneous games of High Low Ohama Poker with my new good luck charm, Mr. Green Slinky.

Green Bag

This grab bag is such a badass mystery, it doesn’t even clue you in as to which gender it’s for. That’s probably why the grab bag rack was about 90% green bags—nobody knows who's supposed to buy them. I think they made the bag green so that stoners are tricked into thinking there might be some marijuana in one of them. They'd be disappointed—as would anybody hoping to find anything the least bit practical.

1 Pair of underwear
4 Decks of playing cards

Now is a good time to mention that four plus four equals eight, which means that this article has caused me to own no fewer than eight decks of cards. If you assembled these decks together to play a game of war, it would actually take longer to complete than the war in Iraq. I challenge anybody reading this to the most epic game of war of all time, the winner getting the blue underwear. In the meantime I’m going to try to get a bank to give me a loan so that I can use the playing cards to open up The Green Slinky Casino. 

The underwear is baffling. You would think that the gender-neutral bag would be the least eligible place to include underwear, since you kind of have to know what gender you are before you buy something to wear around your junk. But I have to admit: this underwear design doesn’t seem to exclude either boys or girls. It’s cut sort of like a pair of men’s briefs, but it has the luxurious sheen and delicate softness of a pair of panties. The only thing I can say for sure about this underwear is that it fits me wonderfully, and you really can't put a price on that. Oh wait, yes you can: one dollar.

It is time to put on my new underwear and roll around in all my terrific prizes.