It was an epic day in shopping history, both for myself and my daughter, and also for the exhausted clerks we left twitching in our wake. My oldest girl, in an outpouring of filial duty, took me to the city, firmly grasped me by the arm and shoved me into a change room. I was not permitted to exit until I was fashionably clothed.
I mentioned last week that I am tall. Tall comes with many benefits, but with a few detriments as well. Tall means you can reach things on high shelves, and you can appear menacing to small children and short men (which is sometimes quite funny), but tall also means that all of your body parts are proportionally elongated. Arms that hang to your knees. Neck that waffles like a reed in the wind. Torso that defies you to find cutesy shirts long enough to cover it. Tall chicks like cutesy shirts, too. Cutesy isn’t just for the delicate and petite among us. Amazon Warrior Princesses sometimes like a little froo froo as an Accent Piece to their leather loin cloths.
Prior to ‘The Shopping’, I thought Accent Piece just meant talking in a funny Scottish accent, but now I know it means necklaces and scarves and bobbles. Imagine my relief. No more annoying R rrrrolling. I didn’t actually buy any Accent Pieces, mind you. I was lucky to commit to a pair of pants, but it’s the education that’s important. Ye ken, laddie?
We were served, at our first stop, by an aggressive Redhead who terrified me. This was in the First Stage of the Shopping Cycle, the I’ll-never-find-anything-to-wear phase. I stand in the middle of the store, wringing my overlarge man-hands, and try to avoid the helpful clerks who are all half my size, half my age and have twice my volume of hair. Red hovered by my shoulder, whisking items off to the dressing room, then burrowing her way back into my discomfort with words such as: “Can I help you?” I forced myself to refrain from running away, flailing my arms, and screaming: “No! No, you can’t help me! Look at me! I’m wearing a Labatt’s Blue t-shirt and yoga pants from 1972. No one can help me!”
I didn’t do that, because it is my personal goal in life to never embarrass my children in public. That’s why, when were in the change room with Red, and my daughter’s eyes got really round, and she scurried around behind me and picked a tick off my shoulder, I acted like nothing happened. Cool. Calm. Nothing like a little tick check in a trendy dressing room. Ticks are the new Accent Pieces. Portable, light, go with anything.
We’re from the South Shore. Ticks are a way of life.
I bought pants in the tick store. I revel in the delight of lycra. Dress pants that are stretchy, and have no button or zipper. You just slide those suckers on and voila, like a second skin that’s way better than your first skin because lycra dress pants don’t have cellulite. My arms were still a problem, knuckles dragging on the ground, but my daughter, in her infinite wisdom, told me they were the only arms I have and I had best get over it. By this time, I was in the Second Stage of the Shopping Cycle, which is the I’ve-been-shopping-for-twenty-minutes-and-I’m-hungry phase. Chinese takeout in the food court. Noodles and Orange Chicken. It’s never a good idea to go shopping for jeans when you’ve eaten more Orange Chicken than an entire Chinese family eats in a week.
But, lycra saved the day, once again. Did you know they make stretchy jeans, also with no buttons or zippers? Like yoga pants, but more socially acceptable. I very quickly entered the Third Stage, the giddy climax of I-can-buy-everything-I-see phase where my limited successes create a false sense of Fashionissma, and I pluck items off the racks like a young girl picking strawberries on a summer’s day. I believe I actually skipped.
My daughter: “Ok, so you’ve gotten over your arm issues, but if it ain’t on sale, we ain’t buying it.”
I don’t know who raised this child, but she is the Accent Piece of my financial outfit. Tick remover, voice of wisdom, financial advisor. And she wouldn’t let me buy her a single thing all day. Probably because she’s feeling guilty over the stretch marks and sagging uterus I was left with after her birth. Twenty six years ago. I still have the yoga pants I wore when I was pregnant.
Belly full of Orange Chicken, shopping bags full of lycra, we topped off the day with one last stop where I impulsively grabbed a flowing, gauzy, summery delight of a mu-mu, which I did not try on because it was beluga-sized and I loved the color. We flounced out of the store, sashayed to the truck, drove home, elated, and clothed, and loving the world.
I tried on the mu-mu. Couldn’t get it over my hips. It’s pretty sad when you need a lycra mu-mu. This brought me thundering into the Final Stage of the Shopping Cycle, the I-have-spent-a-lot-of-money-and-only-bought-two-pair-of-elasticized-pants phase where you realize that you are only one short step away from dressing like your Great Aunt Tilly in polyester twin sets, with a greying perm and sensible shoes. And freakishly long arms.
My daughter loves me, though. Not everyone would pick a tick off you while handing you a long, cutesy blouse that just happens to be on sale. Next trip, we might attempt new shoes.