Yesterday I went shopping by myself, so I was actually away from my husband and children for the first time since July 29th. So that was pretty great right there.
I have to say, though, the experience brought back unhappy memories. You see, I suffered a degree of culture shock when I moved to Chicago. The people there were so ... dressy. I thought I liked clothes, and as soon as I started receiving an allowance, I pretty much spent every cent of it on fashion magazines, but when I moved to Chicago, I realized I looked frumpy. See, there's a kind of "don't look like you're trying too hard" vibe in New England. I blame this on the fact that New England has much in common with Old England--way more than the rest of the country. These characteristics include pale skin, bad teeth, bland food, a penchant for decorating in a traditional style, a general dislike of embarrassingly fervent religious gatherings, and looking pretty much god-awful most of the time.
So when I moved to Chicago, I realized that I was suffering from the New England fashion curse. It took me a while to get up to speed. And for all I know, I'm still driving 35 on a fashion freeway with a speed limit of 65.
Other members of my family had it even worse. I know this is true because they think I'm well-dressed.
We won't go into the matter of my mother's wardrobe--I'll save that for one of those long winter evenings when I feel like blogging but inspiration fails me--but my oldest sister dresses like an aging hippy, and my other sister has always been pretty clueless about what looks good on her or what looks good in general, and she never gets rid of her old clothes, so even though she's an extremely good-looking woman with a great figure, she pretty much dresses like dog vomit.
Like when you're visiting her and you come down for breakfast, she's likely to be wearing leggings and a big old stretched-out sweatshirt and one of those cheap stretchy Goody hair bands that you didn't think they made any more (and you'd be right; my sister's dates to 1979.)
I have always attributed my sister's appalling wardrobe to her innate bad taste . However, now that I have been shopping in the nearest mall, I can see that it's a case of the blind leading the blind. See, my sister has lived in New Hampshire for about 10 years. And if this mall is any indication of what's available, her general Glamour-Don't-ness makes all kind of sense.
You know it's bad when the mall's anchors are Macy's, Filene's, Sears, and if I'm not mistaken, J. C. Penney. You know it's bad when the only brand of shoes you recognize is Steve Madden, and what looks like the high-end sportswear department is full of Liz Claiborne, or when the only stores you can actually see yourself shopping at are the Gap, the magazine store, and the place with all the different-colored Red Sox baseball caps.
But if the stores were bad, the people. Good. Lord. Jeeves. The old guys with the high-waisted pants like Ed Grimley. The old ladies in those coordinating pants and tops from the Appleseed catalog. The trailer trash moms with their bra-straps showing pushing double strollers and yelling at their kids. The cheesey tattoos. The generally lackluster grooming. The nicely dressed people look as though they stepped bodily out of the L. L. Bean catalog. The badly dressed people looked like they stopped buying clothes 25 years ago. Except for the teen-aged girls in their Limited II slutware. I'm telling you THE MIND BOGGLES.
My greatest fear is that I am somehow going to suffer a complete relapse. Since I got here I've worn nothing but flip-flops, shorts, and t-shirts. So far they haven't all been Red Sox t-shirts, and the shorts aren't from L. L. Bean--but it could happen. And if that happens, can a cheesey tattoo be far behind?