Holiday Shopping Puzzlers

il_340x270-1.1358738970_n9r8I actually enjoy holiday shopping but sadly my family has ruined it for me. Now, I get lists where all I have do is point and click to their on-line shopping bag. Efficient? Yes. Fun? No. This means the only real shopping I do is for myself because, yes, I buy my own presents.

There are though a few things that puzzle me about shopping in December and one of them is the music being played in stores. Props to Bath and Body Works for their traditional approach in regard to holiday tuneage. Burl Ives gentle crooning on “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” is something to be treasured and lulled me into buying yet another “Fresh Balsam” holiday candle. And when Johnny Mathis started singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” I felt duty bound to double up on my “Peppermint Twist” bath gel purchase.

Sadly, the music segued to ghastly at the next store I went into. What’s up current singers butchering a classic? Jingle Bells doesn’t required vocal gymnastics? I’m tone deaf but even I don’t think that “dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh” requires a show-offy take on the lyrics.

Another thing that confuses me are coupon conundrums. Pretty much retail speaking, no matter what store you go into everything is marked down by at least 30 percent. You also then have your digital coupons and loyalty savings for a “joining” the store “club” etc. The problem is that the math required to use your coupons is ACT worthy and presents a mathematical brain teaser.

Can you combine the current discount with your coupon and loyalty card? If the answer is no, you then have to try to figure out what will be cheaper just taking the discounted price or going the coupon route combined with the loyalty reduction? And then what if you return the purchase will you get your loyalty bucks back?

The people who say you never use math once you graduate are fools. I use math every time I shop and not to brag but I can add up what’s in my Target cart and I’m usually not off my more than 15 cents. It still amazes my kids. My son once asked me how can I do that but not know basic algebra? I told him my skill set was “everyday math.”

Holiday shopping also woos me to make dumb decisions. As in I recently bought a hat. Not a hat to wear when I walk my dogs, but a fashion statement hat. A beret to be exact. J Crew had all these cute berets laid out on a counter and the fact that they looked like giant macaroons might have influenced my decision to buy one. (I was hungry.) As soon as I attempted to wear my beret in public, I felt very self-conscious, like the people might be feeling sorry for me kind of self-conscious.

I just don’t have the face or the head for a beret. But, then not two days later I was seduced by a fedora at Anthropolgie. It didn’t help that some very lovely young ladies were in the store wearing fedoras. I decided to give it try and let’s just say it wasn’t for me.

I was bummed. I want to be the kind of woman who can pull off a hat. But then I started thinking positive about my beret. I was going to wear it but only when I go out with my daughter. At 18 she’ll be mortified to see me styling a huge hot pink wool macaroon that’s perched on my head at a very jaunty angle. Hmm, maybe that beret wasn’t such a bad purchase after all.



The Casper Syndrome

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You know I’ve never minded getting older. My go to has always been as long as I stay young in spirit and have a certain cheerful zest about life I’m okay with the aging process. Well, let me now share that ship has sailed and I’ve entered the full-blown cranky person phase of my existence.

I blame the mall.

I know some of you maybe thinking, “Dear God, she’s going to rant about the mall again? Here’s a tip quit going.”

If only I could my friends, if only I could. But alas, I’m the mother of a teenage age daughter and going mall free is not a viable option. Granted I did not have to go to the mall the day after Christmas, but some grandma money was calling my daughter’s name and after spending 48 hours in what I would refer to as a forcible lock down with her family my 15-year-old was fixated on getting to Abercrombie.

Stay with me; don’t go over to Buzz Feed  just yet. I promise I’m not going to linger on Abercrombie. I’m aware that I’ve beaten that horse to death  blog wise. Instead I will be discussing the mall in a larger context starting with addressing a pressing social issue that I think is being egregiously ignored – the 14 to 24 demographic being totally bereft of having any spatial self-awareness.

These poor young people, raised on iPhones, have zero idea of how to walk or stand in any sort of group setting. In fact, I would go as far to suggest that they all might be suffering from some sort of delusional depth perception where they perceive themselves of being invisible or even ghostly apparitions where people are able to just walk through their human form. In the interest of science, I have labeled this disorder the Casper Syndrome (as in Casper the Ghost).

This generation of Casper’s will come to a dead stop in the middle of a surging crowd to look at their phones blissfully unaware that they are impeding the flow of mankind and even causing other fellow carbon life forms to stop short and wipe out by a ridiculous store for girls called Garage. (I’m sure aptly named because that’s about the only place I would let my daughter wear that collection of tramp-a-doodle-do.)

These Casper’s also have the innate ability to place their bodies in the most well-traveled place in any store and basically camp out on their phones while they block the forward movement of any other bipedal mammal. Even when another person says a very polite “pardon me” or a more aggressive, “you and your phone need to move out-of-the-way” the Caspers are unable to grasp the dual concept that they are making people feel stabby and that they have created a human barricade.

You know the Casper Syndrome is widespread when you witness a mall cop spending his day telling teens to keep walking and explaining the fundamental concept of moving their bodies to the side of a walkway or aisle instead of parking themselves in the center.

Another thing that catapulted me into the extreme crank zone is the age old question of not why did the chicken cross the road, but how long does a line have to be for a store to open up another cash register? I even felt compelled to assist one retail establishment with basic math.

Here’s the word problem. There are four registers and only two cashiers working. Meanwhile, there are two “managers” sashaying down a line so long customers have nicknamed it I-35 and asking people if they had “found everything they needed.” What is the best way to improve the speed of this line?

The correct answer is telling the sashayers, “Hey, how about if the two of you stop with the chit-chat and get on a register because four working check out stations equal four times the customer service.”

I got the stink eye, but I’m proud to report that an additional register was open. Not all the registers of course, because that would have made sense. Then when it was FINALLY my turn to check out I was told they couldn’t take cash! WTH? That’s spitting on the very foundation of the American economy. I’m sure it’s even considered a treasonable offense. I’m not going to sugar coat it. I had a breakdown.

Finally, the manager confessed that the problem was they couldn’t open the cash drawers of the registers. (Hello, have your tried a nail file?) That was my cue to storm out in a very dramatic fashion until my exit was abruptly stopped/blocked by what else but two Casper Syndrome teens. God help us all.



I’m a Fashion No

This is it. Fall 2015 is when I’m gScreen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.41.39 AMoing to up my wardrobe game! I’m going really get out there and reinvent my look. This might be a bit of a problem because I don’t have a look. I have a more of a “lo” which is half a look or barely a look. To be honest my “lo” translates into me having two categories of wardrobe: Decent and Vintage Slob.

The “vintage” look I wear on days when I’m not venturing farther than a one mile radius from my home or only going to Walmart. (Hand to God, one morning I was the worst dressed person at  Walmart. I owned it and pushed my cart down the aisles with a swagger that had a smidgen of slob joie de vivre.)

My decent look is essentially a go to uniform of jeans, blouse, cardigan sweater and a shoe that is neither athletic wear or has the word flop in it. In terms of make up let’s just say if you ever see me sporting the “smokey eye” it means those black marks aren’t the result of an over application of Lancôme Precision Point EyeLiner but bruising from some sort of cornea surgery.

Yep, it’s time to do a fashion intervention on myself. I’m going to go out of my comfort zone. Good bye elastic waist pants (you were my everything) and hello high fashion. (Okay let’s be honest here and call it medium fashion because I don’t have the money or petite waist circumference to go all Vogue magazine)

To begin my journey to a more fashionable me I decided to go solo. Sure I could have brought my daughter with me, but have you noticed how teenaged girls have an almost magical skill to turn any shopping expedition into a journey that is all about them?

You go to the mall to buy yourself a pair of shoes and the next thing you know you’re feeling light-headed from the Abercrombie fumes and you’ve been conned into spending way too much money on something called  “Teaspoon Freebird” (Is that a kind of hummingbird or something?) denim for your daughter. It’s witchcraft that’s what it is or there’s some kind of mind altering chemical in the reek that permeates the store and makes anyone over the age of 40 surrender control of their wallet.

My first solitary stop was to a department store I was familiar with. I figured it was best to ease myself into this fashion thing and go somewhere I knew the terrain. Although, I was going to an area of the store I have always walked by and never given a second look to because the clothes looked a little intimidating (as in requiring full Spanx and had dry clean only tags). I selected three items that frightened me because that’s what Oprah says to do. You know the whole “Do one thing that scares you everyday” mindset.

The most horrifying was a dress with a fabric brocade so thick it reminded me of my grandma Stella’s sofa. The bad news it was beyond ugly even through the sales associate told me it was “totally on trend.”  The good news that bulky brocade could hide a multitude of lumps and bumps. It should have a sign that reads “buy me and you’ll never have to suck in your stomach or forego dessert again.”

This made me very excited as I attempted to get the dress on my body. Please note the word attempted because try as I might that brocade wasn’t budging over my shoulders. Yeah, that’s right shoulders. I bet you thought I was going to say hips because who hasn’t had that problem, but no this garment was stuck at my neck. Well, to be accurate it was strangling me. Who know brocade had the same compression quality as a surgical grade tourniquet?

Finally I managed to free myself from what I thought was certain death and examined the garment more closely and realized I hadn’t unzipped it all the way. I grabbed a tissue from my purse and had a good cry. So, it’s come to this has it? I now have to wear reading glasses to get dressed.

After my cleansing sob in the dressing room. I gave the dress another try. Totally unzipped it went on my body without a hitch. Unfortunately, I looked like I belonged in a living room. If I had worn it to a furniture store and laid on the floor I’m certain a family of four would have set on me because I just didn’t look like a love set or even a regular couch. No, in this dress I was so huge I appeared to be working a “sectional sofa” look. I couldn’t get it off fast enough.

Because I’m no quitter I decided to buck up and persevere. I wasn’t going to let a couch dress rob me of my courage. I was going all in and headed to a store that downright scared me. You know the kind of store where everything is fancy and from the moment you walk in you feel like you’re being judged.

I opened the thick glass door with a handle that was doing double duty as a work of art and felt like it was telling me to “flee the premises with my unworthiness.” I wanted to listen to the door and take off for the parking lot, but I thought to myself, “Stay strong, you are a woman on a mission and will not be denied your chance at wardrobe wonder.”

As I perused the racks a sales woman asked me if I needed help and because I was still feeling vulnerable from the brocade bomb I blurted out what I had just been through (leaving out the whole reading glasses/zipper thing because it’s one thing to admit you resembled a sectional and quite another to share that you’re an aging idiot) and bless her heart she took pity on me. This woman steered me to clothes that had qualities that were in no way related to home furnishings. I, with trepidation, tried on a variety of looks that screamed “fashion is my passion.”

The problem is I could have sort of liked these clothes if they hadn’t reminded me of the 1980’s. It seems one of the muses for fashion this year was that wonderful time period of shoulder pads, Dynasty, and leopard prints. It’s as if they put Joan Collins as Alexis Carrington and Nancy Reagan during her White House years in a Vitamix for a smoothie and then topped it all off with a little Material Girl Madonna whipped cream. I mean, what girl doesn’t love a little animal print, but just wow on a cheetah inspired, shoulder padded, blouse with a bow.

I had no choice but to raise the white flag of surrender. I was done attempting to brave the fashionista waters, at least for today. It was time to go home and reunite with my BFF. No, not my husband or children are you insane? Where’s the comfort in that? If I told them I almost asphyxiated myself with an unzipped dress they’d would not only howl with hysterics, but use it against me for years to come as in “well, at least I’ve never choked myself by not fully unzipping a piece of clothing.”

My savior, the healing balm for this emotional journey was one thing and one thing only – my decade old, elastic waist, sweat pants. They’re not high fashion or even low, let’s call them aspirational bottom feeders of the style world, but they sure are comfortable and I have no doubt, at all, that they love me. In fact, even though I’m fashion challenged I’m blessed. Most women want a wardrobe they love. Lucky me, I have a wardrobe that loves me back or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.


*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends I have a new book out and for a limited time only it’s just 99 cents for a heaping helping of Snark! You are now gazing at the second book in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂


Mall Phobia

8e199d75a074ccc7789d1d5ff03cf45dHaving a daughter is one of life’s great joys until, you are forced, against your will, to take her clothes shopping at the mall. I, naive fool that I am, thought that I had gotten through the worst of it. And by that I mean I haven’t darkened the door of a Justice clothing store for a couple of years.

For those of you lucky, lucky, mammals that have never had to cross the threshold of a Justice store it can best be described as a migraine machine. Loud, latest Disney boy band music blaring combined with garish clothes for elementary school girls that feature monkey motifs, scratch and sniff scented T-shirts and the always, classic, faux neon fur. Adding to the ambiance is a section of the store that sells accessories best suited for dressing up for a wedding at Chuck E Cheese. Don’t think I’m exaggerating when I tell you I did the happy dance the day my daughter aged out of cheetah skorts. 

Last week, in anticipation of an impending cold front, my youngest announced that she needed new jeans. I did my maternal duty and suggested that all she needed to do was put them on wet and really try to stretch them out. That plan didn’t work. She was insistent that we should go to the “big mall.”

I shuddered. The “big mall” is where the mean stores are. The stores that hurt your feelings or cause you to weep from sensory assault. The stores no women over 25 and 130 pounds wants to go into. I’m talking about the axis of evil known as Abercrombie and Fitch, Forever 21 and Hollister. I pleaded, I begged, I bargained, but in the end she got her way (shocking not) and I found myself at the mall using a free “Youthberry” beverage sample from Teavana to throw back two, “just in case”, Advils, before I entered Forever 21. 

The problem I have with Forever 21 is that there is just too much of everything. The store feel likes it’s merchandised by chimpanzees that instead of throwing poop at each other hurled clothes. There’s so much crap-a-doodle-doo to churn through that whenever I enter the store I feel as if it might swallow me whole, kind of, like a Florida sinkhole. I lasted about ten minutes before whimpering that I was having a panic attack and needed to leave. 

Next, after fortifying myself with Wetzel’s Pretzel Bites (for medicinal purpose), I followed my daughter and shrieked when she began to venture into Abercrombie and Fitch. I grabbed her by the arm and pulled her back. “You can’t do this,” I told her. “By entering that store you are a willing participant in a hate crime.”

“Oh no Mom, not this again,” she wailed. 

“Oh yes, this again, my darling daughter. As a member of the ‘thighs rub together when I walk’ coalition I can’t let you do this.” 

You see, the CEO of this horrible store is known for saying comments like (and these are the kinder ones) he only wants “good-looking people to wear his clothes” and that there is “no room for fat people” in his company. In that case, jerk face, there is no room in my wallet to buy anything from A&F. 

Knowing there was zero room for negotiation on this my daughter capitulated and we set off for Hollister. Is it just me that thinks the outside of the store looks like the entrance to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney Land? Sadly, the inside, shares the same lightening scheme, as say, being buried alive, and smells like it was carpet bombed with the world’s most gag inducing cologne. Screw Guantanamo, use Hollister as “detainee chambers” and see if that doesn’t get the prisoners spilling secrets.

Before I subjected myself to the ordeal I took a couple of deep cleansing breathes, put a Wetzel napkin over my nose and ventured in. My daughter, used to my Hollister survival skills, didn’t say a word. Mercifully, she was in and out in under five minutes.

She still hadn’t purchased any jeans, that by this time, I was calling “Denim Slacks” just to punish her for making me endure the mall. Not wanting to be persuaded to go to some store called Garage or please, dear Lord no, not Pac Sun, I called an audible with, “You know what store has really nice stuff, no music, no discernible smell of cologne, bright overhead lights that help you read the price tags and a snack bar? Target.” 

My daughter shrugged and countered with, “Can I get a Starbucks?”

I gave her an enthusiastic yes and we both skipped out of the mall. Okay, it was more of a jog but inside I was skipping and singing. I was free, free at last.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good. Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival. If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you.

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