Things have changed just a tiny bit since I was in high-school. I went to the mall with my daughter tonight to do some clothes shopping, whew. I felt like the main character in a skit from Saturday Night Live about “Mom Jeans.” I wasn’t wearing jeans but I didn’t need them to feel completely lost in a new generation.
First, the mannequins, they were, hmm, how should I put this, how about compromising. They are posed in really strange ways. The mannequins when I was a kid were pretty standard, pretty virtuous, pretty…plain, I guess the clothes had to be cool to look good on a pale bisque-ivory woman with pointy fingers, bumpy skin and coarse blonde hair. The mannequins of today could sell a cardboard box, they look like supermodels, in the flesh, dipped in paraffin and set on the department store floor. They come in all positions, crossed legs, legs open, standing, sitting, cat-walking, mostly nude in lingerie. All skin tones, mostly bronze and only one body type, scary skinny. It’s no wonder girls these days have body image problems. I was just beginning to wonder what Mesha thought when she told me she thought they looked constipated, leave it to Mesha miss out on the obvious, not that I cared in this situation.
The most disconcerting event of the evening was my experience at a popular teenage clothing chain. We shopped there for awhile, browsing the $50 hoodies and the $25 thin graphic tees. Mesha decided on a few things, totaled the price in her head, then rethought her purchases. There were two girls running the store, one very smooth talking young gal who was obviously training the other not so smooth, awkward teen girl. She was doing her best to try and tell us about various, “good-deals” and help out other customers while folding inventory and trying not to make eye contact. From time to time you could hear hear yell out, “Kayleeeeee”, what I finally decided was the trainers name, a wide-eyed plea for help with who knows what perplexing retail conundrum. When Mesha finally decided on a sweatshirt and two camis we proceeded to check-out. The “trainee” was left to attend to our purchases, she was polite, asking if we found everything we were looking for, half-heartedly engaging us while she proceeded to ring up our items. Her trainer came back and forth to help her mash different buttons on the keyboard, at one point her trainer actually said, “Ok, push F12, now F10, F8, ok now push F10 again, ok now F8.” As the final scene of our evening unfolded, Mesha gave the gal $75 after hearing her total of $73.77, she pushes a button, the drawer flings open, she stares at the screen with a complete look of disbelief, slowly she yells out from the register, “Kayleeeeeeee.” For a fleeting moment I think I am going to ask her what the problem is because I am almost 98% sure that I can help her with it, then I reconsider, I tell myself that there is no way, no possible way that she doesn’t know how…Kaylee walks up, the girl tells her that the screen doesn’t show her how much change to give…and thank the Almighty God in heaven, Kaylee points out that the receipt prints out in black and white exactly how much change to return to us…Kaylee, we salute you…and all your teenage friends across America who don’t know how to make change.