On Saturday, I had the distinct privilege of going school shopping with my parents and Jamie, an ordeal that lasted for many, many hours. Shopping with anyone in my family tends to be a test of patience and endurance not unlike climbing a mountain, except that if the mountain were our shopping trips, instead of getting to the top and feeling that exhilarating sense of success, you’d get halfway to the top and then you’d fall off the mountain and die.
When I met them at the mall, they’d already been shopping for two or three hours at that point. We had to wait for a million trillion hours for Jamie to get her hair cut by a barely-English-speaking woman who cut Jay’s hair about as well as I would cut it if I grabbed it in my fist and hacked at it with a butterknife. And then there was all this dispute about how the haircut was one price, but drying it was extra, but since Jamie has long hair drying it would be even more, and all in all the shitty haircut was going to end up costing like $50. So instead, my parents, who were totally grouchy at this point, paid for just the cut, no tip, and Jamie didn’t get her hair dried or styled at all. She’s lucky her hair is long and thick and wavy, because you can’t tell that it’s a little jagged on the ends.
So Jamie’s walking along all teeth-chattery with dripping wet hair. It looked like her “stylist” hadn’t even towel-dried it (that probably costs extra). Tangent: can I just say that I must be spoiled, because I go to a reasonably upscale (for this area) salon, and I get my hair shampooed, cut, dried, and styled for about $40? And that’s with the master stylist at this particular salon. Some of the other stylists charge less, but they’re never going to treat you like you’re burdening them if you get your damn hair dried. I think this charging-extra-for-drying business is bullshit.
ANYWAY. Then we had to go looking for jeans.
It seems like everyone I know has trouble finding the right pair of jeans. My sisters and I are all built differently, and each of us has different problems when shopping for jeans.
Tangent #2: A few weeks ago, we had a conversation about our body shapes while sitting in the drive-thru line at Arby’s. We decided that I’m an hourglass, Ginny is an apple, and Sammi is a pear. Jamie’s like, so what am I? And we thought about it, and we decided that she’s a cheesestick. Because she’s short and straight. And cheesy.
Back to the mall. They don’t make a lot of jeans for cheesesticks, so we knew we’d probably have to go to several places. I suggested we start at Gap, since they have a lot of styles and lengths, and their jeans often go on sale. We went in there and Jamie tried on a million pairs of jeans, and none of them worked. So off we went to American Eagle.
One of the reasons shopping with my family is difficult is because we all have issues. I get stressed out in crowds, and often have to leave stores that are too crowded or I sometimes have ugly little anxiety attacks. My dad’s back bothers him terribly when he’s been walking a lot, so he has to stop and rest and he gets progressively more uncomfortable. Mom hates shopping and is easily distracted, so we tend to lose her in stores. Ever since I was a little kid, I’d tell her about fifty times to stay right where she was when I went into the fitting room. And inevitably, I’d come out to show her what I’d tried on and she’d be gone.
Trying on three items turns into this lengthy elaborate process, because you put the first pair of jeans on and then you go out and go looking for Mom, and then you drag her back to the fitting room and tell her to stay right there, no, RIGHT THERE DO NOT MOVE, and you race back into the fitting room and strip off your jeans and stumble into the next pair as fast as you can, and by the time you get back out to model she’s halfway across the store, so you have to decide if you’re going to stand there and scream, “MOOOOOOOOOOOM!” and have half the people in the store stare at you, or if you’re going to go streaking across the store in bare feet to get her, and have the other half of the people in the store stare at you, and by the time you get to the third pair of jeans you sometimes just drag her into the room with you, because that’s the only way you can be sure she won’t take off while you’re trying on that stupid third pair of jeans that you never wanted to try on anyway, and you really want the first pair but she barely looked at them because she was distracted by something shiny, and when she did look at them, she flatly proclaimed, “They look dirty,” and your dreams were crushed into tiny pieces. And then she turns out to like the pair you hate and then you cry in the middle of the store and it’s a big scene and she wants to take a cartoon pencil eraser and just erase your whole head so you’ll shut up already.
So, of course, Jamie liked the dirty jeans at AE best. And my parents have this bizarre, vehement, earth-scorching hate of the dirty jeans. Every time they’d see a pair, they’d just go off on a “kids these days” tangent that lasted for years, like why would people pay ACTUAL MONEY for jeans that looked like they were run over by a truck, and sure, Jamie could have the dirty jeans if the people at AE would wash them first and seriously, did you know that the jeans are dirty? Because those jeans? They’re dirty. They’re DIRTY!
Dad did specifically ask me to mention in this post that when we walked in to AE, he told one of the salesgirls that someone came in and got their jeans all dirty, and the salesgirl played right along and told him that someone ran in and dirtied them all up before anyone could do anything about it. It was actually pretty funny, if you were there.
Mom also hates the torn-up jeans, because, in her words, they weren’t “earned.” Because, see, back in her hippie days, it was cool to buy a pair of new jeans and wear them until they fell apart, and it gave you some kind of hippie cred, but now you can buy the jeans already falling apart, which is not only stupid and a waste of money, but actually cheapens your life.
My parents also won’t spend more than $50 on a pair of jeans, which is fine, because I won’t either, but Mom gets heart palpitations from $40 jeans as well, and will only grudgingly pay $30 for a pair of jeans.
So these are the limitations we face when trying to find Jamie at least one good pair of jeans.
It was all worth it, though, because after trying on about fifty pairs of jeans at American Eagle, Jay found a couple of pairs that fit her little cheesestick body beautifully, were neither dirty nor torn, and cost – wait for it – $29.50. Which is less than $30. So that’s totally fine and great. And then they went to Aeropostale (while I waited outside on a bench because Aeropostale is too crowded and gives me hives) and Jamie actually picked out a skirt all on her own.
It might have been the most successful school shopping excursion ever. Not everything was perfect, though, so maybe instead of making it halfway up the mountain before falling off and dying, we made it three-quarters of the way up.