What My Hell Looks Like
I had to make a semi-annual visit to a local mall yesterday. An elderly relative needed clothes and my 8 year old is running around looking like Huck Finn in the jeans she outgrew overnight. So I took a deep breath and waded in, secure in the knowledge that I would hate every minute of this trip.
I loathe most women’s clothes. Lately, the trend of bedazzling the crap out of things and designing clothes which look like the sewing machine was broken – shirts that look like scarves, pants that have holes in them, makes 70s fashion look practically appealing (except for the poncho). I’m not fond of men’s clothes, either, because so many of their clothes look like women’s. I don’t need my man to look hot. I need him to look like he can fix the sink, carry a sleeping child to bed and move without popping a button or a nut. Sexist, yes, but I can be a jerk that way.
Immediately I head to the boys department for my daughter’s jeans. She refuses to wear anything with slogans, logos or pictures on it and it is rare to find girl’s clothing without it. And let me just say that no child on the planet wants to wear “skinny” jeans. When did we parents become so damned stupid? When did retailers come up with that plan? Let’s call jeans skinny – they gain on the bottom line what we lose in material. I’m not about to purchase a chronic wedgie for my child.
I roam up and down the jeans wall and can’t find a pair that doesn’t look like someone wore, washed and returned them – 67 times. I didn’t come here to buy used clothes, especially since you’re charging me a brand new price. Eventually I find a rack of what appear to be new jeans and select ones with plenty of pockets and reinforced knees. Score one for the consumer. Except they’re the same price as an adult pair. I feel defeated.
Then I schlep over to the old ladies’ department. Holy cow! We’re prostituting them now, too? I do not need to see granny’s cleavage, especially since it now goes down to her waistline (and I say this knowing I’ll be there someday as well). Let’s just rip away the rest of their dignity and make everything out of polyester while we’re at it. I’m forced, by proximity, to walk past a lingerie department. Ugh. No need to revisit that purgatory of itchy lace. But the next time I need to floss my ass, I’ll know where to go.
I take my armful of old ladies’ and little boys’ clothes to the cashier. She has those long fingernails that I only used to see in the Guinness Book of World records, so long and curled (and bedazzled) as to make her ringing up task nearly Herculean. I’ll be here for awhile. On the other checkout counter, there is an elderly couple insisting on returning items that they actually bought at another store. The clerk is polite, but the woman is intransigent and getting louder by the moment, while the husband remains a silent baggage boy behind her.
The people behind them are shifting their weight and letting out big sighs. I can feel the temperature rise and wonder what it would take to put them in a murderous Black Friday rage, stampeding the security posts and knocking the old couple down. I’ll be the first giving a witness statement to the police, trying to keep the phrase “she deserved it” out of my testimony.
I survive the checkout process and have one last traditional stop to make – the Godiva store. I cannot return from the mall without a little bag of chocolates for my family. But something has happened. They have decided that low pay, aprons and rubber gloves are not enough for the denizen servants of Godiva. The lovely cashier/chocolatier is now wearing a paper hat. There’s no party, no chair in the corner, no super-sized fries that could justify a paper hat in a chocolate shop. I thank her as she hands me my purchase, while simultaneously apologizing to her in my head. Somebody should.
I walk out into the sunlight, from under the lock down of unflattering fluorescent lights, piped in music, sickening smells of popcorn, cinnamon rolls and gluttony. The wind is bitter and cold, but it feels and smells like freedom. And in a couple of hours, when I’ve finally located my car, I can breathe a sigh of relief that I won’t have to go back until the next growth spurt. I’m going to stop feeding the kid vegetables and introduce her to Virginia Slims, excuse me, Skinnies.