Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Shop 'til you drop... or you get arrested for strangling your child in the shoe department

Lordy, lordy... I survived, but just barely.  Arguing, raised voices, a bit of colorful language and a headache were the order of the day.  Up and down, back and forth, wandering here and there with no luck while threats were being hurled.  It was just a typical trip to the local mall with my teenage daughter.

It's hard to believe I was once a devotee of shopping.  I could roam around and snoop through stores all day.  Even when the girls were little bits, it didn't slow me down.  I just packed them up, along with some snacks, and hit the racks.  Sure, folks stared at the 7-yr-old being pushed along in the stroller or shopping cart.  But hey, it beats piggy backing them from one retail anchor store to the opposite end of the local mall and back again since I had bags to carry.

I've been known to temporarily misplace kids a time or two since they always loved to hide underneath the clothes displays.  My oldest was especially good at this and would sit there quiet as a mouse.  It got to the point where the old trick announcement of "I'm leaving now" or "I think we need to go buy something from the Chocolate Chip Cookie Factory" would fall on deaf ears.  One time my mother, a novice with the wait-it-out game, was in tears and ready to call store security to help us find the brat Annie before she finally started giggling and gave away her hiding place.  Please - all that hiding bought me some extra time to do a bit more shopping in peace.  Sure, she always crawled out from beneath the racks with two fists full of those extra buttons they attach to clothes so that I had to quickly ferret them away out of sight from the sales clerks.  But seriously, who really keeps or actually uses those extra buttons anyway?

The older I get, the less patience I have with shopping in general.  I'm not a window shopper anymore.  I head out with a specific list of item(s) in mind, locate them and then vacate the premises ASAP.  I think Annie takes after her great great aunt Jodie, my sister and my husband's mother - all great at scratching through the racks for hours on end, trying on things and then leaving the store empty-handed.  Annie gets started with an item in mind, then her inner raccoon comes out and she gets distracted by a shiny necklace in accessories or glittery new eye makeup kit in cosmetics.  Then boom - she's chasing down something else entirely while I stand around tapping my toe with impatience.

Probably the most often repeated and incredibly aggravating scenario begins innocently enough with the question, "Which one do you like?"  Or maybe "What do you think of this?"  That's obviously a loaded question because what appeals to her teen fashion sense isn't going to translate to a middle aged woman's style.  Showing me an outfit made from fabric with large horizontal stripes that's either cut up to here or down to there is like waving garlic in a vampire's face.  You know - lots of cringing and shielding my eyes while swallowing the impulse to hiss in scorn until the offending garment is removed.  Don't be insulted... you asked and I answered.  Honestly, you need to quit pitting one outfit against another.  I always end up liking what I had no idea was your second place winner and then you feel compelled to defend the one you really like best.  Hello - don't ask my opinion if you don't want to hear my answer.  My only criteria for your wardrobe is that it's reasonably priced and covers up most of you in a somewhat modest fashion so that it doesn't appear you're planning to set up shop at a local street corner in the near future.  

I quit picking out your clothes way back in elementary school.  Let's go ahead and totally sever the belt strings so we can try a new kind of shopping.  I give you a big wad of cash and turn you loose in the mall.  Feel free to invite a friend or two along for company.  I'll happily spring for lunch and then swing back by to pick y'all up once you've gotten your fill of retail therapy.  It seems like a win-win situation to me so that no one gets their feelings hurt or is temporarily blinded by that neon print shirt you're admiring.

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