Friday, September 14

We have a new sorta more upscale shopping center here in Fort Wayne called Jefferson Pointe. Like mispelling words makes you upscale. Anyway. One of the stores is a department store called Von Maur, which is part of an definitely upscale Midwestern chain. (It's the kind of store where they individually wrap each of your purchases in tissue paper, all in the name of "customer service" while you're wishing to God they'd just throw the stuff in the bag and let you and the seemingly-hundred pound baby on your arm the heck out of there).

I ventured there today on my hunt for birthday gifts for Katie (Monday, the 17th, she'll be ten.)

Of course I headed straight for the two tastefully labeled "sale" racks, contemplated buying a dress marked down to twenty-nine bucks, realized I'd seen something very similar sans designer label at Meijers, then settled on a denim shirt that could double as a light jacket, and a pullover sweater I know she'll like - I got out for well under thirty dollars.

Anyway, the point of this is not to bore you with boring details of my shopping trip but to tell you about the woman being waited on by the other clerk. She was tall, with stiff blonde hair framing her face, well-turned out (of course), a couple of years older than I (at least she looked to be in her mid-forties), with a husband and a little girl who seemed to be around three.

She was buying. And buying and buying. She was also talking to the saleslady about her little girl. "She is such a little girl" the clerk commented, meaning, as all people do when they say that - she's appearance-conscious.

"Oh yes," the mother agreed, "And I'm trying to make her that way on purpose. I want her to love frills and lace. She loves make-up and all that stuff. I'm so relieved. I'm really trying to program her to love it all."

Yes, I kept my mouth shut. It was close, though. I thought, however, that maybe I should offer a warning that you can't "program" kids (and why would you want to???), that they will be who they are, and that's the way it should be. It would have been a prophecy for her to remember, fifteen years from now, when her crop-haired, clean-faced daughter symbolically burns all the frills of her girlhood before packing her overalls and leaves for Provincetown or a commune somewhere..

Oh yes. Three hundred and eighteen dollars. $318.00. That's what she spent on her three-year old's wardrobe this morning.


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