“Attention TJ Maxx shoppers. Would customer Karen Rinehart meet her party at the mall entrance service desk?”
Were her texting fingers broken? Only a long and loyal friendship will survive this act of shopping humiliation. Trying on swimsuits is stressful and humiliating enough — then to get paged part way through the process?
I sped through the crammed purse aisle, narrowly missed a china buddha in housewares and while still trying to jam my left heel into my shoe, skidded to a stop in front of my best friend and her overflowing shopping cart. Catching my breath I gasped, “What’s wrong? Are you okay? Are the kids okay? Did the sitter call?”
“Nothing, yes, yes and no. Whataya think about this skirt?” She fished it out from under a box of dishes.
“It’s kinda last season. Why are you getting dishes?”
“Because they’re blue and I like them.”
“Melanie Kim Chitwood”, (I had my breath back) “You amassed three sets of china alone when you got married. You had so many extras we returned them to Macy’s and got enough money back to make your next car payment and wait you paged me for PLATES?”
“Yeah but I’m tired of them and you know, with all the moves we’ve made, they’ve gotten chipped and stuff and did I mention I’m tired of them? And besides, these are blue. Did I tell you Blue is my New Thing?” Six months ago her New Thing was “red”. Ever shopped for red plates? Last month her New Thing was Curtains. We picked out, bought and returned no fewer than 17 panels, swags and swatches of blue fabric.
“You, my friend,” I exhaled, “are insane and– Mel? Don’t ever wear that shirt in public again.”
“I like it—it’s sparkly!” she whined, looking down at bauble-clad collarbone.
“No, it’s dowdy and totally unbecoming. You are too young to wear that.”
“Oh right, this from woman I had to bodily stop from buying a bathing suit designed for a 14 year old girl; not a 45 year old housewife. What do you think of this table?”
I stood there thinking how my best friend and I have shopped “together” like this for over 25 years. Able to wander into different departments and answer the other’s request for advice or give it unsolicited without offense. “Your husband will kill you if you go home with another table.”
“You’re right. How about these shoes?”
“Now those show promise. What else have you got going there and did they have those in my size?”