This summer I returned to my childhood home of Princeton, N.J., which I figured would have been a calming relief compared to my hectic social and academic life at the UR, I found myself in a tizzy.

First, there was the whole Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch escapade and yelling at women who had just had babies.

Then he continued by turning sweet little Katie Holmes from Dawson’s Creek – my high school Bible – into a Scientologist pod person who makes out with him in public at all times. Tom, the cult leader, was then followed by my – and the world’s – discovery that the perfectly English Jude Law, was, in fact, cheating on his equally annoyingly perfect and beautiful fiance, Sienna Miller, with the buxom nanny! Danielle Steele could not come up with stuff this good. This forced Sienna into a downward spiral phase in which she resorted to wearing even bigger hats and longer boots.

Well, this was enough to make me sit down and watch the E! Channel for a straight week while eating jelly beans. And finally, the ongoing Jen and Brad saga which now features the supporting cast of Maddox, the six-year-old sporting a Mohawk, Zahara – the most beautiful baby in the world – Vince Vaughn and the entire country of Cambodia where Angelina recently became a citizen. Though I am definitely on Team Aniston, I think Angelina does do excellent work for the U.N. when not walking around all in black with her lips pursed.

My life had spun out of control, and not even my childhood stuffed animals or adoring parents could get me out of this rut.

And then finally I found sanctuary! While driving on one horrifically hot July day, I suddenly had a craving for strawberry twists. For all you candy neophytes, these have a completely distinct taste from Twizzlers, which are almost identical in shape and texture.

Luckily, in the not too far distance, I saw the familiar guiding red bullseye of the Target store, drawing me in like a shepherd gathering his flock.

It was air conditioned. It was well lit. It had pretty shoes. It was Target! Over the summer, Target quickly became my place of peace in a fast-paced world.

I love Target because you always know exactly where the DVDs are, whether you are in a store in Kalamazoo, Mich. or Westchester, N.Y.

I feel happy and confident inside Target, unlike Wal-Mart, which I die a little inside whenever I go.

The red color that permeates throughout the store makes me happy and excited, which, according to studies, stimulates the heartbeat and leads to an increased rate of breathing.

At Target I can buy the complete first season of Laguna Beach, three bags of pixie sticks, a fashionable, a reasonably priced boho sheik purse and a cheese grater! You can’t do that at the Gap.

When I went to Target in the middle of August, before I went on vacation to Martha’s Vineyard – a non-Target island that I suppose might appeal to some people – I saw the new dorm room decorations. I got really excited, even though I am a senior.

The first thing I did when I got back to school was go to Target and now I am proud to say that my room should be considered as the paragon of the Target dorm room shopper.

So, to all my fellow students, if you are ever stressed by the work load – it’s all downhill after orientation, freshmen – I suggest a trip to Target, pronounced “Tar-jay” by the upper-middle class who think it is fun to refer to discount stores with fancy names.

Oh, and by the way, freshman girls, Dan Rudolph is the short one with brown hair who gallivants around with his crotch forward. How was your summer, Dan?

Lepore can be reached at

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