A Lighter View … Shopping for school

A Lighter View … Shopping for school

By Karen M. Morris, Freelance Writer

The signs were all there. Wool coats mysteriously appearing in May. Turtle necks surfacing in June. By July, mukluks were overflowing the shelves. And now, goofy hats with ear flaps were starting to materialize everywhere.

Was this one of those fluke time-space continuum things where summer had disappeared through a wormhole? No…this could only mean one thing. It was time to go shopping for school.

When I was a kid, all you needed to start school were ink cartridges, writing paper, and a grocery sack. Well, you can kiss those days goodbye.

Now, shopping for school requires more supplies than Armstrong took to the moon. Calculators. Copier paper. Floppy disks (formatted and virus-free). Mechanical pencils. Headphones. And, a 56K compatible backpack…capable of handling unruly loads.

But something was missing. Scientists (after viewing several poorly scripted teenage movies) have finally discovered the key element to success in school…clothes. This would explain my sons’ problems. Their wardrobe looks like it came from a bin bag.

“Get up!” I yelled at the boys. It was past noon, and they knew we were going shopping for clothes today. “If you don’t get out of bed right now, I swear I’ll drag you to the mall in your underwear.” I shouldn’t have said that…they took it as a challenge. Frankly, I’d have better luck kicking dents in duck feathers than lighting a fire under these two.

The boys slogged downstairs like a herd of turtles wading in mud. Leo looked like he’d combed his hair in a window fan. And Morry showed up wearing a cap over his eyes, bathing trunks, and an undershirt that said, “Support Stupid People”. You could’ve cut the excitement with a knife. Somebody mumbled “hungry.” (I think it was Leo. I detected his facial hair moving.) What a jokester. We were so “under-dressed”, we’d be refused service at a drive-thru.

The boys picked out a restaurant that specialized in mass-produced mystery food, served on authentic styrofoam plates. Leo’s girlfriend tagged along to watch us clog our arteries while she sipped water. The girl is so thin, she wouldn’t cast a shadow if she turned sideways. With appetites satisfied and cholesterol soaring, we started our journey of fun.

I parked the van at the mall, got out and locked the door. When I turned around, everyone had disappeared. Inside the shopping center, I found them hiding in a poster shop. Morry pretended not to know me when I asked him to hold my purse.

The mall was filled with other families like ourselves. Teenagers huddled together, strategizing ways to look like they weren’t with their moms. Moms walking three boutiques behind, carrying bags of clothing like pack burros on a mountain trail. My eyes connected with other moms as we passed. We’d exchange smiles and then quickly scan the halls for our kids.

“Sit here,” Leo said, pointing at a bench. “I don’t think you should be in this store.” The poor boy was trying to protect my eyes from seeing the “cutting edge” merchandise in a store that catered to the Gothic and Punk crowd. I guess he thought I’d feel out of place with only my ears pierced. He returned with a seat belt from a Chevy. “Ooooh, man…I’ve been looking for one of these,” Leo whooped.

“You don’t own a Chevy.”

“It’s a belt for my pants. I need one of these.”

“You need that like a snake needs shoes. What’s wrong with what you’ve been using…gravity?”

At the next store, the boys wouldn’t try on the clothes and, if I recommended anything…it was the kiss of death. Morry found some pants he liked that were covered with dirt. (It saved you the time of having to soil them yourself.)

Leo rejected the knee-length shirts. Too bad. They would’ve hidden the fact that he wasn’t wearing a seat belt. Morry refused to let me purchase underwear. He felt that was too personal to do in public. At this rate, my sons were going to start school as practicing nudists. Desperate, I bought anything they even brushed against.

Not used to all this exercise, I became dehydrated and started to melt, so I gave the boys some money to go get drinks. They never came back. I found them back at the poster store. They’d used the money to buy a wall-size picture of a half-naked starlet. I couldn’t have been more pleased if someone had poked me in the eye with a fork. I grabbed the sacks and announced it was time to go home.

As we left, Leo whistled, “Now that’s hot.”

Stunned, my mouth dropped and I fell over a cellular phone display. “It’s a surf shirt,” I said, pulling myself up. “This could only mean one thing…the spring collection is out.”

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