The Shopping Nightmare

As a child, I hated shopping more than going to the dentist. That didn’t stop my mom and aunt from spending hours in discount clothing stores, going through every item on the 75% off clearance wrack to find “the deal”.

To relive my painful boredom, I hid in the circular clothing racks, and dove out to scare people as they walked by. I found this HILARIOUS, but it embarrassed my two teenage cousins, and downright horrified my mother .

“Don’t you dare valk avay from me and talk to strangers! Somevon vill steal you!”

She dragged me by the arm into the dressing room to watch them try on clothing. They always managed to concoct ensembles adorned with zebra print, leopard spots, tiger stripes, or some unholy combination of the three. Of course, someone would always discover some awful outfit for me, and this time it was red sweat pants and a hideous pink sweater with a gold glitter bow on it and intricate fake pearl beading; you know, the kind that blind seventy-five-year olds wear. The outfit made me look…lumpy.

“Look at that fat butt!” my aunt yelled, squeezing my rear.

“Is this a new mole?” my mom asked, inspecting my face.

“Why does your hair look so weird?” my aunt said, trying to adjust my bangs.

“Can we freaking go now?” my cousins whined, looking at their plastic Casio watches.

“Vait, vait, vait!” my mother yelled, pointing at me. “Stephie is a BIG girl, we need to find someting dat fits!”

Squaking women and hands were all over me. I shut my eyes and tried to “go to my happy place” and they dressed me in a duplicate hideous sweater, this time in yak-puke green and approximately eighty-seven sizes larger. They always knew that sweater was a correct fit if it went past my knees.

“You’ll grow into it,” my aunt promised. Yeah, maybe if I grew a parasitic twin.

“Anyu, can we go home and play with Barbie now?”

My mother shook her head. “Not yet, your aunt still has to pay.”

My aunt took several minute to sort through her endless handbag, trying to find a coupon for the store. She rooted around a little more for her tiny reading glasses. As she put on the glasses, realized that she still couldn’t see, and rummaged around for her OTHER pair of tiny reading glasses (you know, “dah good ones.”) After sounding out a few words in the fine print, she discovered that we still didn’t have enough items to fulfill the $50 requirement to get the $20 off. We went back to shopping.

After picking out several pairs of slightly irregular panty hose and age inappropriate thong underwear, she finally had enough items to get the discount. The cashier rang everything up. “This coupon is expired,” she said with a smile.

“Vait! I haf anodder!” My aunt dug around some more, and pulled out anither coupon.

The cashier glared at it. “I’m sorry, this coupon is not valid on clearance items.”

My mother and aunt went through each and every piece of clothing and debated which ones to buy. By this point, my cousins were usually in their own world, playing some type of sing-song hand-game involving slapping, and I would play with the Velcro on my LA Gear shoes. The other customers behind us in line didn’t look too happy.

My mother and aunt finally figured out which items they wanted to keep, but the total was still too high. My aunt demanded a 10% discount for because a few of the sweaters had holes in them and were missing buttons. The cashier glances over at her coworkers, who were pulling down the front gates to close the store.

“Fine. But that means you can’t return it,” she said.

“Good, I vasn’t gonna anyhow,” she said a matter-of-factly.

On the way out of the store, my aunt loudly whispered, “Ve got the deal!” and presented her daughters with a handful of lint and buttons from her pocket.”

“Yeah?” said Irina, wo really couldn’t care less.

“I’m dah one that pulled off the buttons! Now that’s how to get a discount!”

As we were leaving the wall, something happened that I will never forget.

(to be continued)

Photo by Sanja Gjenero