Here are the people you see at Target at 2:30 or 3:00 or 3:30 on a weekday afternoon:
3 kids, high-school or young college-aged maybe, two young women and a young man standing just beside the Xhilaration display in women’s clothing. One of the young women is clearly the ringleader – the blonde, the one with the careful coordination of long, straight, blonde hair, sunglasses on head, green puffer vest over indiscriminately-colored long-sleeved tee and jeans tucked into those weird furry boots that are apparently trendy these days. She has an almost-matching furry bag and she’s talking on her cell phone and obviously making the other two wait on her, but they’re just as obviously used to this, to the point that maybe they don’t even know they’re waiting on her, and they flip absentmindedly through the peasant shirts and talk about Hyundai Sonatas while they wait on their blonde ringleader.
One woman, immaculately overdressed for a Wednesday afternoon in dark-rinse jeans, black stiletto boots, black leather jacket over some kind of black shirt with jewels or sequins or some kind of tastefully expensive doodads on it. She has expensive rings and an expensive haircut and an expensive bag and she’s walking with a kickass purpose, like she’s in a seriously important hurry. She hangs a left and I imagine she’s after tampons, or maybe a card for a friend.
A mother and her teenage daughter, both dressed in pink and black and denim, and I’m almost certain that it’s unintentional and that the daughter, at least, would be horrified if she realized that she dressed to match her mom today. They’re fighting over where to go – the mother wants to look at the discounted One Spot bins and the daughter is tugging her toward the peasant shirts where the blonde ringleader and her disciples are still hanging around.
A young mother, in her mid-twenties at the oldest, with a baby in one of those carrier-things in the shopping cart, standing in front of the drinks in the refrigerated case in Food Avenue. She looks tired. She first selects a sugary juice drink, and then puts it back in favor of a bottle of water, which is replaced by one of those superfood drinks, but then I notice her almost furtively switch it back out for the original sugary juice drink, which is the one she takes to the register.
Several girls, hundreds maybe, coming in waves wearing bootcut blue jeans and sneakers and gray hoodies over probably faux-vintage t-shirts, with their hair up in messy half-ponytail-bun things. As I note this trend on a napkin I catch a glimpse of the sleeve of my own gray hoodie and realize that I look exactly, precisely like these girls today, right down to the faux-vintage t-shirt under my gray hoodie. And then I feel a little weird. But then I see the Chanel bag one of the gray hoodie girls is toting and I feel different, somehow.
Two teenage couples – the girls wearing late-May barwear, low-cut shirts and jeans and embellished flip-flops, which is weird because it’s warm for December but it’s not late-May barwear warm by any stretch of the imagination. The teenage boys are dressed like teenage boys. I see them about a hundred times in Target and then again in Best Buy, looking at the video games but trying to act like they’re too cool to look at the video games.
A really, really pretty woman wearing the worst Mom-jeans I’ve ever seen. They’re that funky magic-marker weird blue color, and they’re tapered, and the butt-pockets are all wrong, and they somehow manage to give her saddlebags and chicken legs all at once, and I think how much better she’d look in a normal pair of jeans, and I wonder if anyone’s ever tried to talk her into a different style of jeans and she turned them down in favor of her old comfortable ones. But then I think maybe she just gained or lost a lot of weight, or hasn’t done any laundry, or lost her luggage on a plane trip, or lost everything except these jeans in a house fire, and maybe she has new pants in her shopping cart, and has felt horrible and embarrassed all day wearing the bad jeans and can’t wait to get home into a better pair.
And then I’m done with my pretzel and I go shopping.