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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Shop Talk

I need to just stop. Going shopping. I don't love it. And last week I had a "last straw" experience. A sign that I need to just stop. It led me to look back over my shopping life at all the trauma and devastation that I have lived through in various stores, fitting rooms and the like.

Shopping for "school shoes" with my Dad. Today, my daughter has no concept of what "school shoes" are. I remember once, when she was in preschool, actually being moved to tears of gratitude that I could say to her, "Do you want to wear the blue shoes or the pink ones? Or the light-up sneakers?" I'm not kidding, in that moment I welled up, just thinking, "My God, she gets to choose between shoes for school. And there are all those children who have no shoes, or even no school. Thank You." (A little detour, there. Welcome to my brain, with ADD-T -- Attention Deficit Disorder with Thanksgiving.)

But I digress (ADD-T, I told you!). Back in the day, I had school shoes, "tennis shoes," (it would be years before I ever touched a tennis racket), and church shoes. That's all. And I was not deprived. That's what everyone else I knew had, too. Oh, maybe some flip-flops. But on this one day, my father had me in Sears & Roebuck, ready to buy school shoes. This was the one and only time I went shopping with my father. All I can think of now is that my mother was nearing the end of a difficult pregnancy, and didn't have it in her to take me.

My father was in way over his head. I was wearing the brown-on-brown "saddle oxfords" that I had worn the year before. Sort of milk-chocolate "saddles" on a caramel base (not that I have a sweet tooth or anything). Did I mention that they were hideous? I could tell that my Dad was very uncomfortable with his assignment, and not at all confident in his ability to pick out a little girl's school shoes. Just then, I noticed that, there on display, were the very same shoes that I was wearing. The ones that were now too tight, and too scuffed, and about to be retired.

"Look, Dad, they have my old shoes."

"Oh, how about that? You like them, right?"

And for the first, but probably not the last time in my life, I told a man what I knew he wanted to hear. I knew that my father would much rather hear, "Oh, yes, I like the shoes that you and Mom bought me with money that you worked so very hard for," than "Oh, goodlord NO! They're hideous!" I told him what he wanted to hear. That I really liked the brown saddles. I figured, "What the hey? I'm about to get new ones, anyway . . . " And just to put a cherry on top of his "my-child-is-gracious-and-thankful sundae," I said something like, "And they're really a good value, because look at what good shape they're in, even after a whole year!"

&u#k!!!! I shouldn't have said that!

You know what happened next. I spent another school year in brown saddle shoes.

My best friend, Denise, and I went shopping at John Wanamaker Department Store. This was a VERY big deal to me at the time. Denise's mother dropped us off and we were having a blast, buying very cool, very hot outfits in which to begin high school. There was a lot of, "I'll buy this in the navy and you buy it in the burgundy! I'll buy the sweater and you buy the vest, and we can mix and match!"

While Denise was engrossed, probably in some ridiculously high-waisted elephant-leg pants, I ventured into the fitting room. GASP! I had never seen anything like it! There were psychedelic lights, pink "fur" covered walls, black and white shag carpet, more pink fur on the giant plush blocks that served as seats. It was GROOVY!

I rushed back out to the "floor," grabbed Denise and pulled her toward the fitting rooms, chattering the whole time. "You have GOT to see this! I have never, EVER seen anything like this in my LIFE! You are not going to believe your EYES!" I'm saying all this as I pull her by the arm toward the tiny room that I had left only moments ago.

OK, go into slo-mo with me here: I am looking back over my shoulder toward Denise, as I pull her by the arm. I fumble in front of me for the fitting room door handle, still looking back at Denise because I don't want to miss the look on her face when she sees what I have just seen. I fling open the door, and shout, gleefully, "Would you LOOK? Have you EVER seen such a thing in your LIFE?!"

But the look on Denise's face isn't exactly what I expected. Not at all. I turn to look at the decor that Denise isn't reacting to with proper enthusiasm . . . but it's not the decor that Denise sees. No, there in the awesome fitting room, Denise sees the very chubby young teen, who has just struggled into a clearance-priced bikini that's not really going to work for her . . . the one that I am POINTING AT, saying, "Have you EVER seen such a thing in your LIFE?!"

I cannot fault Denise for what she did next. I understand. I really do.

Next, Denise literally kicked my ass. She kicked me so hard in my ass, that I went flying into the now crowded fitting room, sprawled on the floor at the feet of the swimsuit model. And as I assumed a fetal, "defeatal" position there on the shag carpet, and clutched my afflicted parts, I laughed ohmygoshsohard, and I COULD. NOT. STOP.

Note to girl in bikini: I cross-my-heart promise, I was NOT laughing at you. You didn't know this, but I'm really not like that. I was only laughing at me. And I am very much like that.

Fast forward to . . .

February, 2005
A good friend, someone who loves me, someone whom I really love, needed a dress to wear to a special family wedding. She says to me, "Will you please go shopping with me and help me find a dress? You always find nice clothes."

"Sure, I would LOVE to be your personal shopping assistant!"

"Oh, good. Willow (whisper-thin, beautiful young bride-to-be) offered to go shopping with me, but she's so skinny! I don't want to go shopping with someone with a figure like that!"

Aw, hell no. You don't want that. If you want a shopping buddy, I'm your girl. I'm plenty fat enough, anybody can happily go shopping with me!

Last week
I went to Kohl's. Kohl's is my household stuff general store. I filled up my cart with some towels, some shoes for LG, and a LOT of socks and underwear for all three of us. I put my merchandise on the counter. The cashier was very sweet. And very polite. Cute. And young. Really young. We talked about how cute LG's new shoes were. We talked about how nice it is to have the really big towels. She was friendly. I was, too.

She hands me the charge receipt to sign, and she sweetly says, "Mrs. Fairchild, today's 'Senior Discount Day!'" She says this like it's supposed to be of some significance to me. And I'm still trying to keep up our friendly banter, but I'm drawing a blank. Then I realize what she's saying...

And I say, "Ackgg..." because I am 45. I probably look it. Most people who have ever said anything on the topic say that I don't look my age, that I look younger. However, no one, to my knowledge, has ever offered that I look 10 to 25 years older than I am, depending upon Kohl's' definition of "senior!"

And she interrupts me to say, "So you've saved $27.00!"

"Ackgg...OH, GOOD!!!!"

That's what I said. What I did. I took my pride and my additional $27.00 and left the store. And I got home and wrote an email to my brother, Greenie, in which I described the incident, slightly differently than I did here, because a number of times I used a word that begins with "mother," but has absolutely nothing to do with my Mom. And I also described to Greenie how I had come home and emailed my husband, with the story and an attachment containing the type of photograph that some of my much younger blogfriends have recently posted on their sites. And I asked Jif, "Does THIS look like a senior citizen to you?!"

And Jif loved getting that risque email pic. He replied that I am a "sexy senior citizen."

Catalog shopping from now on.

45 heads are better than one . . .

Blogger mrtl said...

You want yourself some assless chaps, don't you?

Gah! I'd really like to spend more time here, but Bug is having a teething emergency and is desperate need of a block-playing pardner.

Blogger August95 said...

You always make me laugh. Wonderful writing yet again. I was groaning for little Susie, shoe shopping with her Dad. Been there.

Good for you for taking the $27.00. I hope you got yourself something really good with it. :)

Blogger marybishop said...

Oh the dad shopping school shoes incident got me -- I also went one time with my father shopping for school clothes when my mother was in the hospital...I wasn't as nice as you - cried, threw myself on the floor and got Mary Janes which were what I decided appropriate for school...later on when Mom felt better I got my "sensible" shoes.

Susie, if you have time, visit my blog today, a weird Google search that led someone to my blog has my nerves on edge...your comment as a professional would be much appreciated...if I did something wrong on my post I'll take it off immediately. thanks

Blogger Kitty said...

If you write a nasty letter to Kohl's they will let you keep the $27 and probably send you a bunch of coupons.

I know it won't make up for the cashier's faux pas, but it just might bring to the attention of the "powers to be" that insulting thier customers is definitely not good service. Well, not to mention take the pain away from paying full price for extra fluffy towels.

Send them pictures :). Borrow a little something from Bucky :).

As for trying to go shopping with skinny people - yup, I'm the proverbial fat friend too. There is just something terrible about shopping for wedding dresses as a size 14-16 bride when the other bride friend is a 6-8.

Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Susie, you cannot possibly tease us with the existence of Dirty Pictures and then not cough 'em up.

Well, I guess you can, but it's not fair to your much younger blogger friends.

Wondered where those chaps disappeared to...

Blogger zhoen said...

Now, see, that girl is no doubt giving Senior Discounts to everyone her mother's age, probably about 40. Someone is going to give her hell about it, but you got $27 and a great story out of it. I'd keep going back on Senior Discount Day, and I'm only 43, usually guessed much younger.

Parents don't realize how much their kids want to please them. Your poor dad, ugly shoes didn't kill you, but what a wise and generous gift- if somewhat unintentional- from one so young. I had to have "Special Shoes" at that point, they were all ugly.

I read you stories out loud to my spouse, he laughs.

Blogger Bente said...

The dressing room incident sounds like it was straight out of a movie. Too funny!

Anonymous MrsDoF said...

At my house, shopping with Dad was much preferable. He definitely went with function over looks. I could persuade him that comfortable shoes for my WW feet would be fine anywhere. And I loved black-and-white diddyboppers! Wish I could still get them!
Mom is always into fashion and what other people at church might think of her ability to make sure the daughters toe the modesty line.

Ahh, going shopping with girlfriends is the greatest memories. We always made a stop at the booth to get our photos taken. I still have the little strips of four pictures that I paid for. My girlfriend lost hers during a move, so I copied mine with a color printer and sent them to her.

Anonymous Sharkey said...

Susie, you always crack me up. The Wanamaker's story was hilarious. That poor girl!

I hope your dad was more patient with the shopping than mine is.

Blogger Susie said...

mrtl, you know I just wore the assless chaps for our dinner out, then sent them back to Bucky!

august95, thank you. Sounds like a lot of bloggers could tell "shopping with Daddy" stories :)

MB, much better strategy; you got two pairs of shoes, one that you actually liked!

kitty, you know, she was SO nice, I know she didn't mean to offend. I think to her 20-year-old eyes, I was an oldie. I'll just keep going back thru her line on senior day ;)

bucky, I do not have the chaps! The pic in question is of the uh.."boobie pic" genre, a la lawbrat and torrie, or JessicaRabbit in polka dots. You get my droop? I mean, drift?

zhoenw, that's exactly what my hairdresser said -- anyone who looks like they could be one of the cashier's mom's friends is "OLD" to her. The idea of you and your spouse laughing together at this craziness makes me smile. Thank you for saying that :)

bente, that's my favorite, here, too. Still cracks me up.

MrsDoF, I'll bet somewhere in all my crap are some of those booth photos of Denise and me.

sharkey, glad you enjoyed. And actually, "patient" was one thing I'm quite sure no one every called my dad, which is probably why I didn't protest about the ugly shoes :(

Blogger Circus Kelli said...

Oh. no. Susie. I am SO sorry. Sheesh. And I though "Ma'am" was bad!

Whoa, that dressing room incident.. funny!

Kohl's?! You go to Kohl's, too? Gah. I LOVE Kohl's. I've been there a lot since we moved. I'm usually not permitted to go to Kohl's unsupervised, though. Just bought myself some new jammies and underwear... gotta love the feeling of new jammies and new underwear.

Blogger dashababy said...

Susie, funny as always and always taking me back down memory lane. I had the white oxfords. I used to cry. I was not as gracious as you. Eventually, they got tired of me crying everytime I got new "school shoes".
and 27 bucks!!! Hopefully that checker will be there next time you shop on senior discount day.

Blogger Southern Fried Girl said...

I am 31 and if one more girl who is popping gum in her mouth calls me ma'am, I will cry.

Anonymous kalki said...

I have a feeling you had the same very young, clueless cashier that I had when I bought the ::whispering:: plunger last week.

At least you left with your pride and a savings of $27!

Still, that #h*t ain't right, hon.

Blogger marybishop said...

thank you dear Susie...thank you!

Blogger Boarder Girl said...

I could see how catalog shopping would be way more appealing, but just think of all the money you could save on Senior Day every month!! hehe Just kidding! I would have been insulted too.

Blogger eclectic said...

OMG -- too funny! I once got my dad to buy me Sears Toughskins while school shoe shopping, even though my mom had earlier said no while school clothes shopping. Wow, was I in trouble...but I got to keep the toughskins. Tomboys rule.

Blogger Lori said...


I used to wear black and white saddle shoes as part of my Catholic grade school uniform. Ack.

Blogger ieatcrayonz said...

As a former employee of Kohl's department stores, I apologize for the blatant disrespect of the teeny bopper POS employee.

However, our motto is/was, "Yes, We Can!" In this case, it was "Yes, we can humilate you by assuming you are over age 62, but try to make up for it by reducing our profit by $27." Thank you and have a nice day.

Admit it, you can't beat those clearance prices. Kohl's is here to stay.

Blogger Squirl said...

I used to have to wear saddle shoes, too. There were these horrid arch supports that didn't work in little cute shoes. Wouldn't you know that now I, again, need arch support and have to wear clunky, very uncute shoes.

And I can't imagine how you must have felt busting in that poor girl in the bikini. I don't know if I could've laughed (even at myself). I probably would've run and hoped never to see anyone again.

That senior citizen thing won't seem so bad the next time you get carded, though. I'm older than you and I got carded at a store about a year ago. It'll happen.

Blogger Dawn said...

OMG, I'm so sorry that happened to you. Same thing happened to my friend on Tuesday, come to think of it, it happenes a lot to her! She has saved a lot of $$$$ this way. Anyway, the 1974 incident, not your fault. She shoulda locked the door.

Blogger SierraBella said...

Gee, I thought being called Ma'am was bad enough!

When I was 48, I received an invite to join AARP! I both emailed and called in anger and disgust... where did they get my name?
(It turned out it was because I'd just retired.)
I doubt AARP will ever contact me again.

Blogger Effie said...

Well, I have the exact opposite problem. I am 27 years old and look like I am 15. My husband thinks this is funny, sometimes, as he is 11 years older than I. Once, when we were dating, I had my hair in pigtails. We were walking down the road hand in hand and people were giving us strange looks. My hubby (then boyfriend) looked at me and asked, very politely, if I could take the braids out of my hair....no more pigtails for me. I even get ID'd when buying a lottery ticket (you have to be 18). Once (very recently), at the YMCA, (I have a pass to the "plus" change room, the one with the hot tub and everything) the workers came over to me and asked me how old I was--you can't be in there alone under a certain age. The worst part was I was in my bathing suit at the time--how embarrassing!

Blogger laurenbove said...

OMG: I'm so glad you posted about his. I'm pushing 40 w/a short short nib of a stick and have been Ma'am'ed to death lately! Uh! Usually from cute young fellas I remember flirting with me as "miss" only a couple of years ago. I was going to write about the ma'am thing but thankfully you've done it for me.

Oh and...I had the brown saddle shoes too. Thanks Mom and Dad.

BTW: Shopping sucks but Kohls is awesome because the savings NEVER stop!

Blogger Cindy said...

I have the same problem with saying what someone else wants to hear rather than saying what I really feel. It feels good when I make someone happy - and normally the sacrifice I make is worth it. Sometimes not. We learn as we go, right?

I laughed out loud reading your Wanamaker shopping story. I would have been too embarrassed to even laugh. However, just picturing you laughing that much brought me to laughter, so it's even true in blogging - that laughter is infectious.

Thanks for the laughs and memories!

Blogger Closet Metro said...

I received my AARP registration materials in the mail a while ago. I haven't quite made it to 40 yet.

Blogger Torrie said...

The first story made me tear up.

Blogger Weetzie said...

I think you are bee-yoo-tee-ful for "saying what your dad wanted to hear", the groovy dressing room story was a hoot (poor girl in bikini tho...) and the $27.00!! choke choke choke...I would swallow my pride for that too - I am 48! also...just a note here...I ACTUALLY BOUGHT A PAIR of black and white saddle shoes JUST RECENTLY because I was so nostalgic for them....weird huh? I AM going to post a picture of them soon....I was actually planning a photo before I read this post but it is a fer-sure now!
Quite saucy of you to email the pics to Jif....teehee!

Blogger Romani Heart said...

I remember having a pair of blue suede saddle oxfords. I thought they were so cool, unfortunately the other kids didn't lol. Looking back, they were kinda nerdy.

Anonymous stringmuse said...

Thanks for the smiles! I NEEDED that. I'm so tired of working. Did I mention that I'm sick of working? And I'm disgusted by sitting at this desk working?

Here's another senior citizen tale. My fella, "Reed," and his best friend, "Dances With Poles," went to the local all-you-can-snarf-up-buffet one night.

They went through the line, paid the cashier, got their food and sat down. Dances With Poles, who is 54, looks at his ticket and says, "Hah hah, I got the senior citizens discount."

Reed, who is 62, looks at his ticket and says, "Hah hah, I didn't."

Dances With Poles smolders so profusely it nearly sets the place on fire. Anyway, it just goes to show those kids at the cash registers don't know anything.


Blogger kenju said...

A friend of mine with prematurely grey hair was incensed when the pimply-faced clerk at the local biscuit place always gave her the senior discount (she was 50). Then she realized if he wanted to give her a discount - who was she to say no? And she got money off every time she ate there for 15 years.

Blogger JessicaRabbit said...

Ok, I know this is a really good post, all funny and stuff and I should comment something deep and meaning full about your abilities and your touching heartfelt emotions and blah blah blah...

BOOBS??? You took a picture of your own boobs and emailed it???!!!

I am so proud of you right now. This moment, its your day! Seize your boobs! Run rampant with boobie power! They can hypnotize you know.. God, your growing up so fast you darling girl. Sniffle, sniffle, boobs. Ahh boobs.

Just dont get a web cam and try to put lotion on them, its very very dangerous.

Boobs! Your now one tiny step closer to the assless chaps and the fishnet. Come Susie, come to Jessica and Bucky, It will be ok, trust me.

Blogger Susie said...

CK, I'll go to Kohl's with you. I'm old enough to supervise you there.

dashababymama, I think that's the best I can do with this -- just go shopping there on senior day and get in my girl's line.

sfg, the only fitting response to that comment is, "Yes, ma'am." ;)

kalki, I appreciate your indignation on my behalf :)

Anytime, MB, de nada.

boarder girl, I am seriously going to try my luck on the next Senior Discount Day.

eclectic, wow, Toughskins? I remember those. You must have been TOUGH. My father probably would have wanted me to have those, because they'd last longer. I was a girly girl, though.

lori, welcome. See, I see a big difference between the black and whites, which I think are actually cute, and brown on brown, which are just WRONG.

robyn, I do love me some Kohl's. Because everything is on sale all the time. Which, of course, means that nothing is ever really on sale, but we don't think about that, do we?

squirl, now you've go me wanting to go out into the world and try to get carded. As I was telling greenie (who did not approve, BTW), I'm seeing just how gray my hair will go when left to its own devices. I'm sure that didn't help my case any, and might make the carding thing very unlikely.

blogaholic, now that I blog, every humiliating experience is just another good story ;)

sierrabella, for some reason they started sending me their magazine when I was in my mid-30s. I guess word has been out about my old ass for a while now!

effie, shut up.

laurenbove, you look young and lovely, young and restless, and all that young stuff. Yea, Kohl's would have to do a lot worse to keep me out of there.

cindy, I don't have that problem of not speaking up any more. I was way too good as a kid, and am trying to make up for lost time, now ;) It tickles me that you laughed "with" me.

closet metro, you should get your official card and credentials, and let the saving begin!

torrie, if you keep saying things like that, people are going to get the impression that you're NICE. Now is that what you want? I didn't think so ;)

weetzie, black and whites are cool, I say. Saucy? I like that; I'll take saucy :)

romani heart, au contraire, mon cher. BLUE SUEDE SHOES? Nothing cooler.

stringmuse, so good to see you here. That guy's a pole dancer? You'd think that would keep him young-looking. You're working too hard. You should blog, instead ;)

kenju, smart friend. The more I hear from you guys, the more I can't wait to see if I can save again!

jessicarabbit, you made me and my husband laugh a lot. I'm glad to have made you proud. We all have our niche here in blogworld. It is true I emailed a "boobie pic," but that was to MY HUSBAND, not to the internet AS A HOLE. I'm going to keep trying to do the sweet and funny, and leave those things involving webcams and lotion to the professionals, or the reformed professionals, as it were. And nobody can do assless like Bucky. I am most flattered to have been invited into such an impressive group. And Jif and I thank you for the laugh.

Anonymous stringmuse said...

Susie, good to see you too! Dances With Poles has had the kind of lifestyle that makes one's age show... I don't think he's done it for a while. FYI. Thanks. I am working too hard but this weekend I will make up for it by relaxing too hard.

Blogger Nilbo said...

On one of my tours, I cut across under the lakes to save time going from Toronto to Boston ... I left after a show so by the time I got to mid-NY statem I was exhausted. Stopped at a hotel and asked what the rate was. The clerk told me, then said "10% less if you're a member of AARP". I had no idea what it was, but said "Of course I am, who wouldn't be?"

Only after I got back and repeated the story to a friend did I find out what it was (between gales of her laughter). I'm still not old enough to join. And I'm still being teased for it. But .. I'd take the 10% any day.

Blogger whfropera said...

im with vonKrankipantzen on this one - once you have to shop for a living, you're done.
Done, I tell you.

Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Heh heh, Susie, looks like Jess tried to drag you into the dark side of Chaps Without Flaps last night!

Don't feel bad - she told me I shoulda worn fishnet with the Bucky Crocker dress.

Blogger Spurious Plum said...

You made my face hurt, I laughed so hard!

Take that ill-gotten $27.00 and go bikini shopping. Maybe the door will unexpectedly open and you'll make a new friend.

Anonymous SUB said...

If it will make you feel better, I went to college (in the South) in 1966, and to my astonishment, the style was to wear Saddle Oxfords with Bobby Sox. The Greek system was very strong and all the sorority girls wore them. They wore them with their Villager and John Meyer ensembles. They also did wear Pappagallos and Bass Weejuns. They also wore pearl necklaces.

Blogger Susie said...

stringmuse, relaxing hard. I like the sound of that. Don't hurt yourself.

nilbo, who wouldn't be, indeed? Their acronym makes me thing of seals' barking: aarp! aarp!

operagirl, I imagine, like so many professions, one must have a special gift to do that one. (Or at least a special gift certificate. pwhahahaha!)

bucky, I think you were perfect in your Crockerness. Jess's invitation still tickles me this morning.

plummy, I'm happy to make your face hurt. I'm not sure "friend" would be the word we're looking for . . . "victim" is more like it . . .

sub, black and white are no problem. And I'll thank you not to say the words "pearl necklace" around Bucky. It sets her off . . .

Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

huh huh huh


Blogger Susie said...

be strong, bucky!

Blogger LadyBug said...

Hey Susie! I've been away from the computer for a couple of days, and am up waaaaay too late, trying to catch up. Your post made me laugh (but not out loud. Had to hold it in, since all my babies are sleeping. Ssshhh.) Just wanted to leave a quick word for you to let you know you've been on my mind, even though I haven't been around lately.


Blogger audrey said...

get a life
e-mail me back at amax32.1@juno.com
later loser who needs to get a life
again amaxson

Blogger Nina said...

I would have done the same, taken my $27.00 . . . and smiled . . I am turning 45 tomorrow.
Thanks for the laugh.


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