With the ads on TV talking about school shopping again, I gets me back to thinking about my brother and I being taken to the only store in town that sold clothes. (It was a really small town.) My mom had good intentions, but damn it, another persons good intentions didn’t mean that they didn’t have some disastrous effects on others.
I have grown up absolutely hating to shop at a store. It isn’t everything – just clothes. I think it all leads back to when my brother and I had to go school shopping with Mom while in grade school. To let you know how long ago that was – credit cards had not been invented yet. (That is the truth!!) Everything was cash or check. There was one clothing store in our little town – locally owned. We were so small a town that J.C. Penny or Sears didn’t even bother with us. We had to drive 50 miles to the nearest Sears store.
My school shopping trips were always a nightmare with Mom. We had to try everything on – something that I despise this very day. I would rather go to a store see something that I think would fit and take it home to try on, and if it didn’t fit, go all the way back the store and exchange it for another size. Sometimes I would put 50 miles on my car and stand in the exchange line for 20 minutes – and then do it again if the exchange did not fit to avoid just trying them on the dressing room provided. Thanks, Mom, for that little piece of neurotic behavior!
Every time I would come out of the ONE dressing room provided, I knew what I was in for. Mom, was able to stretch a dollar so far that she made Scrooge look like Diamond Jim Brady. She was always was big on growing room. When we would come out of that dressing room, (a curtain not a door), she was on us like stink on a stockyard boot, tugging and pulling the clothes. She would put her hand in the waist of our pants and pull so we would almost lose our balance just to make sure that there was growing room. Then she would roll up the cuffs to our jeans to about a three-inch cuff so we wouldn’t outgrow them in the school year.
Then we would sit down to be fitted, (fitted, did I say?) for the shoes, that was to last the entire school year. I don’t remember ever getting a pair of shoes that we were actually measured for. If we were measured for, let’s say a five and a half, when the clerk was in the back finding the shoes, I know Mom was also back there saying bring out a six and a half or seven. (If you haven’t figured that out yet – growing room.)
As an aside, my brother and I only had two pair of shoes. School shoes and Sunday shoes. Because we only wore our Sunday shoes on Sunday and holidays they didn’t get as ratty looking as our everyday shoes. So then when Mom would examine them, they looked pretty good, although we had likely outgrown them last year. We were forced to put those perfectly good shoes on until a shoehorn couldn’t get our feet in them. Many the times when we had to take our off our shoes as the service started to relieve the pinch. A few times when we couldn’t get our shoes back on without that shoehorn, little brother and I marched out of the church in our stocking feet with our shoes in our hands. I didn’t realize it until much later but maybe it was a Freudian response for mother embarrassing us in each school shopping endeavor.
But now, back to trying on the shoes for the school shopping caper.
When we got the shoes on, the clerk would have to push down on the tip of the shoe, if it didn’t go all the way to the sole without touching our toes, she deemed it not enough growing room.
And then, the ultimate humiliation. Mom would have us walked down the aisle to the front of the store and back. I couldn’t have been more embarrassed than I had been standing in the window with a hoop skirt. There was no negotiation. We sometimes would have to walk for her two or three times before she opened her open purse and parted with a few Lincolns. So there I was, parading myself for all the other customers to see, holding my pants up with one the belt loops to accommodate Mom’s growing room, with 3-inch cuffs and shoes that you looked like I had stolen them a clown.
I was always glad if I had completed that humiliating journey without seeing anyone that I knew. Worst of all, other mom’s shopping for their children didn’t go through the things my brother and did.
And the lingering effects of the shopping trips with Mom haven’t gone away. I would much rather order from a catalog and then return the item or, in the alternative making, several trips to the store returning an item once, twice or even three times to avoid the store dressing room.
I know, I know, my driveway doesn’t go all the way to the street.