Please forgive the air of snobbery and allow me put it on record: if I am destined to meet my maker in a retail store (which is entirely possible) please, dear Lord, do not let it be Kohl’s. Today I was quite sure that was precisely how my eulogy would be written as I was forced to use every ounce of control I was able to muster to keep from either opening a vein with a car key (or a tooth or a pen) or perhaps dunking my head in the store toilet or, frankly, utilizing whatever means necessary in my quest for death. Yes, I was back to school clothing shopping for Jessie which is not an adventure for the faint of heart.
As with everything I seem to do, it started off innocently enough. Jessie’s request for a few “cute back-to-school outfits” (her words) is certainly a legitimate one, but not one I had personally experienced prior to today. In years gone by, the boys would graciously allow me to purchase a few new t-shirts with snappy sayings, maybe even some new jeans and usually new kicks for their (smelly) feet, but “outfit” was not even in their vocabulary, therefore, not in mine. This being the first September that I “officially” (for lack of any other word) have a daughter entering school, I will admit to being caught a bit unawares by the intensity of the shop.
By some (strange) miracle, Jessie only wanted to go to Kohl’s. I have no idea why, since I can only recall having gone there once before, but was thrilled to be spared the mall experience of Delia’s, American Eagle and Forever 21 – all of which I have patronized in the past ten months. I halfheartedly agreed to the outing and, despite being invited (read: begged) to join us, Rich opted out. (In return for his choice, I armed him with a list for the grocery store with a strong reminder to be mindful of brands…none of this “doing it wrong so he doesn’t have to do it ever again” crap.) We hit the road: she was excited, I was calm. As has become my mantra of necessity: I can do this.
What will heretofore be known as “our” Kohl’s is set up in such a way that, depending upon which door you choose – the one on the left or the one on the right – you walk directly into the junior department which boasts, among other brands, a Britney Spears line. Need I say more? I now know, for future reference, to enter by way of the left door which brings you to the matronly, er, women’s department. Having chosen the right door turned out to be the wrong choice and resulted in the onset of my undoing. From the moment we stepped through the doors we were attacked by a bevy of tops that were all too short, too low, too tight, too flimsy and too ugly for my burgeoning tween who is only too anxious to be accepted as a girl…a teenage girl, that is. As if her being transgender did not complicate the shopping experience enough, now I had to (subtly) direct her out of the junior department and into the kids’. That was made even more difficult by the fact that she can easily fit into most of the junior stuff, but doesn’t have the right, um stuff, to fill them out appropriately (again, for lack of a better word). Add to that her personality and gusto for acquiring large quantities of that which she likes (have I ever mentioned that she is the proud owner of six American Girl dolls?) I sensed that this was going to get really ugly, really fast. And, I was correct.
With my arms literally aching under the weight of the clothing which had been hurled at me with a zeal reserved for only the most ardent shoppers, I finally gave into the need for a cart. I was growing increasingly confident that this outing was going to signal the end of my life and was acutely aware that I do not want to perish in a store that has carts. It was at this point that her voice could be heard throughout the store debating and challenging my rejection of roughly 90% of what she was drawn to. Fully aware that this was going to be brutal, I fantasized staging an episode of some sort which would require we leave immediately…maybe even via ambulance for added sympathy. I kinda even prayed for death a little. (If I have to expire in a retail establishment though, please, dear G-d, let it at least be Bloomingdale’s.) As I was actively plotting ways to off myself in the ladies’ room (if for no other reason than to put myself out of the misery that is shopping with a girl) I had the wherewithal to physically separate myself from my little angel so that this did not turn into a homicidal situation. (If I have to be arrested for something as unseemly as murder, please, dear G-d, don’t let it be in Kohl’s.) I (not so) calmly excused myself to go to the ladies’ room which, in hindsight may have been a flawed plan given the fact that all the suicidal plans dancing through my head took place in said spot. I entered the restroom and considered my options and deemed them all too unsavory so, instead, utilized the deep breathing which I had been taught, ironically enough, to use during labor and delivery. I gathered myself together and ambled back to the spot where Jessie was exploring the training bras. That’s it. Game over.
With less argument that I expected, she walked away from the lingerie and told me of her dire dehydration which, according to her, could only be sated by a Mocha Frappe from McDonald’s. Imagine her irritation and disappointment (on the heels of my having forced her to weed out roughly half of the items she had planned on (me) purchasing) when I pointed her in the direction of the bank of water fountains which would better cure her thirst than any Frappe would. It was officially time to leave before she perished from thirst, I from aggravation.
As we took our place in line at the register I noticed that we were behind a couple who might have heard me tell Jessie that I was going to kill myself if we didn’t wrap things up. Hoping against hope that neither of them were mandated reporters, I was relieved to learn that indeed they were not and, as if a gift from the heavens, they happened to have an extra” 20% off entire purchase” coupon which they gave to me, I believe, out of sheer desire to get away from the crazy lady at Kohl’s.
On the way home in the car, armed with the knowledge that there was a drive thru McDonald’s on route, I caved to the Mocha Frappe craving. Hardly altruistic, I did so knowing that I could simultaneously satisfy my Diet Coke habit for the day which we all know, cures everything…including, apparently, suicidal and homicidal ideations.
We arrived home and Jessie was only too happy to give Rich a fashion show from which he only rejected one piece. I was hoping he would give the thumbs down to more, but alas, we all made it home alive so I had best not push my luck. As for our next adventure in clothes shopping…maybe next September.
Note: There is nothing funny about either homicide or suicide. I hope this will be taken in the spirit in which it was intended. And, further, if you doubt the level of stress of which I write, I invite you to take her for an hour and see how it goes. <3