Not too long ago, my thirteen year old daughter talked me into taking her to one of my least favorite places. The mall. I know I’m going against the grain here as a woman in her late twenties (okay, maybe late thirties) when I say those words. I have never been one to just wander around the mall, even as a teenager. I suppose that could have been because I never had money. When I go shopping I’m on a mission and I want things to happen in this order:
1. Enter mall with destination in mind.
2. Enter destination, find needed item.
3. Pay, then exit the entire establishment.
My daughter did not inherit this part of me. She loves the mall and the whole experience. Kicking and screaming, I was dragged into a store full of girl stuff. This store is quite small to begin with. Once you pack it full of hair accessories, jewelry, lip glosses, etc., it’s bad enough. Add the teenage girls and their incessant jabber, and it becomes a coffin to me. I almost lost consciousness from the overwhelming aroma of plastic purses hanging by the dozens along the wall. My daughter, in her element, pulled me along, pointing out several items that caught her fancy. Neon fingerless gloves, brightly colored hard plastic bracelets, plastic hoop earrings, and a white belt with a multi-color paint spatter effect all over it. Are you kidding me? Why did I throw all my old stuff away? Oh yeah, I remember now. I HAD TASTE. Was Madonna about to jump out at me from behind a rack of jelly shoes? It was like a total 1980s flashback. As the room spun around me I felt the urge to tease my bangs, tear the shoulder out of my T-shirt, grab a pair of leg warmers from the shelf, and break into a “Flashdance” tribute dance routine. I needed some air.
My misery was far from over. No amount of begging made a dent in my child’s heart. We pressed on, despite me faking a heart attack and an allergic reaction to plastic. The next stop — Old Navy. A mountain of fruity colored V-neck cardigans loomed to our left. Leggings and patent leather flat shoes filled rack after rack. Those freaky talking mannequins give me the creeps. I watched in awe as my teenager admired these “new” trendy looks. How could she make fun of my old pictures? The very thing she laughed at seemed to draw her in like an old lady to a Bingo game with a free buffet.
A little further down the mall we passed a shoe store. What’s with the pink high-top sneakers? Plastic stilettos? Fake leather hobo bags with big bows on one side? Are they serious? If I would have known all the things I wore back then (minus the stilettos) would be back two decades later, my daughter would have an entire wardrobe of “vintage” clothes at her disposal.
I don’t miss parachute pants, but I do miss big hair and doing the “Seventh Grade Shuffle” at the dances. There was nothing like a good power ballad playing in the school gym while we nervously waited to be asked to dance by someone we liked. I was such a geek then. Still am.
Now my daughter begs me not to dance in front of her friends when a song I like is on the radio. Come to think of it, she asks me not to dance. Ever. She slides down in her seat when I belt out Nickelback songs in the car, even while sitting at the traffic lights. I don’t know what her problem is.
Lighten up, dear daughter. Your time will come. All the fashions you think are tacky will haunt you decades later when they resurface. Someday you’ll be the one explaining to your child that their favorite new song is really a remake of an old original. And they’ll give you that same look of horror when you start singing all the words.