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            School Shopping Daze


Shopping for school is fun. Fun, fun, fun.  It's August first, our family's traditional Back-To-School Shopping Day. This is a ritual that my kids anticipate with much delight, and I with complete dread. I know I need an attitude adjustment so I vow that this year, we are going to have fun, gosh darn it! Just in case, I pack my purse with all the essentials for a day at the mall: a handful of Prozac, a holy card with a prayer to St. Jude on it, and my cell phone, which conveniently has Dr. Kevorkian's personal phone number on speed dial.                        

We plan to hit Target as soon as the doors are unlocked at 8 AM.  My steel trap mind deduces that there are already six thousand other shoppers waiting to enter the store since we have to park about ten blocks away in a field with grazing sheep and a very confused looking bull. Luckily an old man on a burro is willing to give us a ride to the store for only $15.00 a piece. I dicker him down to $15.00 for all three of us and we are on our way. We arrive an hour and forty minutes later smelling like we slept in a barn all night but as luck would have it, we  score the last cart in the store. Fortunately, Amy works out at World Gym and Corey is short but muscle bound, because we end up having to take turns literally carrying the cart since none of the four wheels moves in a forward position. But hey, it’s little things like this that make school shopping fun. Sure is.

I leave Amy in the junior department while Corey and I head over to the boys department. He has his eye on an orange fleece vest and green cargo pants. We live in south FL where the average temperature is 97 degrees eleven months of the year, but practicality isn’t his strong suit and we throw the ensemble into our sadly dilapidated cart. Since Corey operates on the theory that his clothes must all be a minimum of two sizes too big for him, I prepare myself for the note that his teacher will invariably send home on the day that he wears this outfit saying,

“Dear Mrs. Eggertsson, I realize that the prices are lower at the “We Wouldn’t Be Caught Dead In This” Consignment Shop, but perhaps Corey could find affordable new clothes in his own size at a discount store, such as Target?” Isn’t it fun to think ahead to humiliating moments? That is the definition of fun, all right.

Corey picks out several oversized tee shirts with fire breathing dragons and /or skulls on them (don’t ask) and 3 pairs of jean shorts that would fit a sumo wrestler. Through some sort of mental lapse, I have accidentally switched carts with someone whose cart has four perfectly good wheels. Luckily she has an eagle eye and thoughtfully points it out to us before we get too far. One of the fun things about shopping is meeting new people. Yep, it’s sure fun to meet new people. New people with better shopping carts. That is what I call fun.

After loading our booty into our motion-challenged cart, we head over to juniors to find Amy. In the hour that it has taken me to outfit Corey, she has found one shirt. One. Uno. Une. But she is not slow; she is selective. Selective Amy, I call her. Sure do. Selectively slow Amy. Picky, indecisive, selectively slow Amy. But shopping with her is fun, you can be sure. Oh so darn fun.

To really make our shopping trip special, we go to the snack bar to treat ourselves. It doesn’t take long to decide that we’ll just get a drink when one of the customers loses a tooth when he bites into a grilled cheese sandwich. We wait 25 minutes while the lady in front of us in line ponders her order. What is tripping her up is that she’s “just not sure that the filet of fish is actually fresh.” I have seen this fish sandwich. It is a square piece of orangish something that may or may not be fish, but I am pretty darn sure that whatever it is, it is not fresh. The girl behind the counter assures her that it must be, after all we aren’t even 20 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. While they continue to debate the issue, I search frantically for a plastic knife to impale myself on. The kids and I split a large cherry Icee, which Corey downs too fast and ends up belching, “Thanks, Mom” in front of the whole snack bar. He is ever so fun to take out in public. Just a great big bundle of fun, I always say. Yep, that is sure what I always say.

It should be noted that my children will only buy a pair of school shoes after perusing all 367 shoe stores at the local mall. To this end, we pay for our items at Target and make the long trek out to the car. I tell the kids it’s not that far and then completely lose all credibility when we pass a sign that says, “You are entering a totally different county, which is way far away from all civilization, especially Target.”  We trudge through sheep pies to our car, which is a crisp ten thousand degrees inside after sitting in the sun all morning. But at least we are having fun. We sure are!

We arrive at the mall and after circling the parking lot for only 44 minutes, we manage to stalk a customer who is backing out of a beautiful parking spot conveniently located behind the dumpster near  the Chick Filet loading dock. What luck! I am sure that the 20,000 flies that are hovering around the dumpster will disperse by the time we return to our car tonight. I am not disgusted by them swarming around us. No, I am not. Gosh, how much fun can a person have in one day?

Our mall easily has over four hundred shoe stores, each of which carry the same identical stock, all priced within $1.00 of each other. My children, who are nothing if not thorough, are quite sure that they cannot make a decision about which shoe to buy until they have seen every shoe in the mall. To make matters more complex, Corey’s particular taste runs to a brand of shoe that is not even sold in this country. After every single shoe salesperson, in every single shoe store, tells him they have never heard of the shoes he’s looking for, he tells me he’ll think about maybe picking out a different pair. Maybe. I shoot him a look that only a mother who has been shopping for an elusive pair of shoes for over 7 hours could get away with. I don’t tell him that was the first fun thing I’ve done all day.

Four hours, three ice cream cones, six Mrs. Field’s Cookies, and multiple Pepsi’s later, Amy finds the perfect Nikes, which, I might add, are remarkably similar to the very first pair she tried on when we first entered the mall, oh so long ago. Corey, on the other hand, needs some incentive so we strike a deal, which I am barred from revealing since I agreed to a gag order (we would go to the only mall that would have a storefront “Litigators R Us”). At last both kids are outfitted from head to toe for school. Rats! No more school shopping fun for a whole year. There are no words to describe my disappointment. None, nada, zilch, zip, zero.

But not to worry! Corey comes home from the first day of school with a nice long list of supplies that he needs. Being the ever-attentive wife that I am, it occurs to me that maybe my husband does not have enough fun in his life. Why not spread the wealth? After all, school shopping is fun. Fun, fun, fun.


by Patricia Eggertsson

Copyright August 2000

Many thanks to Patty Eggertsson, the author of this piece, who allowed us to share it with you via the Reale site. The work is copyright protected, and may not be used without the writer's permission.

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