When I was in seventh grade, I experienced the first pang of rejection, as I did not receive an invitation to the hottest birthday party in town. I will not name this person as we are friends on Facebook and I don't want her to know that her party, which probably involved people wearing Esprit shorts and talking about the cutest boys at St. Cecelia Interparochial School, was the start of a longstanding spiral of neurosis.
So when that invitation did not come and was not going to come, my mother promptly reassured me that I was, in fact, fantastic, with a big and bright life ahead of me better than 12-year old party, by driving me to our downtown department store. Maas Brothers was where I'd sat on Santa's lap and browsed with her in the women's wear. (It was also across from the library and the bridge to the beach, so my triangle of happiness was solidified right there.)
It was on a weekday night, in the cool air of this department store, that my mother purchased my first *fancy* handbag, a navy Liz Claiborne embossed with tiny triangles. It was there I learned: You can buy happiness.
Oh hush, I know that's not really true. But I like to pretend it is sometimes. And yes, I know how much of a consumer I sound like. I am.
Now Maas Brothers is long gone, and the monolith malls that led to the demise like that are dying too. It's to the latter I gravitate now when I need to walk the aisles and think.
When I was 16 my dad dragged me to The Gap, with the promise that he'd buy me anything in the store -- anything to get me out of my Docs and Cure shirts. I went kicking and screaming. Turnabout is fair play, as yesterday,when Nate promptly declared he didn't like the "hipster" (his words) jeans I'd put him. So I dragged him to The Gap, saying, "You can get anything in the store." Antics ensued.
The clerk thought it was quite funny that a seven-year old didn't want to be a hipster.
"You know the first part of becoming a hipster is saying you aren't one," he said as he rang up the khakis and the tiny Beatles shirt. "Ah, what's this? A Beatles shirt?" I looked at the clerk and said, "First signs of a hipster, for sure."