Santa Maria Sun / Humor
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 24
School dazeBack-to-school shopping is exhausting
BY ARIEL WATERMAN
I used to love shopping for school. The first day of school wasn’t until the day after Labor Day. The final warm days of summer brought the promise of autumn, with warm colors in hues of red, brown, gold, and forest green.
I remember my favorite green and red plaid book bag with its leather handle and straps, and my Man from U.N.C.L.E. lunch box with matching thermos. I used to moon over David McCallum as Illya Kuryakin and Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo while I munched my PB&J sandwich and sipped chocolate milk from my thermos lid.
School supplies were simpler then: A three-ringed binder (in a cool neon color), folders decorated with psychedelic designs and peace signs, a few No. 2 pencils, and a fountain pen with refills were all I needed. That’s right, I wrote with pens that had nibs and leaked all over your fingers—we were tough then! And I still get excited by the smell and feel of a brand new, unmarked, spiral-bound notebook.
Most of my wardrobe was comprised of parochial school plaid uniforms, but there were still church and after-school events to dress for, new winter coats to find, and slacks and sweaters to mix and match. Oh, and the shoes! Penny loafers, pointy pumps, and cool tights and knee-high socks to go with them. I was in my element.
Now lunch boxes are covered with Angry Birds and even angrier superheroes. When did Batman become so mean?
The Batman of my youth was Adam West who looked tough and strong, yet cuddly. All right, by today’s standards he wasn’t buff and sporting a six-pack, but he fought crime wearing purple tights and a hooded satin cape, not some black leather, gadget-filled, flying gladiator suit. Now that takes moxie! He didn’t have fancy CGI-equipped vehicles. No! He drove a souped up 1955 Lincoln Futura that ran on bat gas! OK, nuclear water, but bat gas sounds funnier!
These days I go school shopping with the ghost of Mr. Blackwell as channeled by my grandson, the Britween: “Really, Grandma? Striped T-shirts? I’m not Charlie Brown, you know!” Now I dread shopping for school clothes and supplies. Getting this kid into a clothing department is as close to giving birth as I have ever come. I have to push, take deep breaths, scream, and push some more.
He hates shopping for anything, unless it’s at Captain Nemo’s. Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokemon cards or comic books bring out the connoisseur in him. But show him a rack of slacks, shirts, and shorts, and he turns into a dazed zombie who drags behind me, continuously groaning “Can we go now?”
This has been true since he was 4 years old. Once I brought him along while searching for summer pants for myself. “How about these? They look nice,” he cajoled. “No, Sweetheart, those aren’t my size,” I explained. “How about these, they’ll fit. They’re really big. Let’s buy them and go!” he announced to an entire store full of shoppers and staff. Now I shop for myself alone. Lesson learned.
This child would happily go through life in soccer shorts and T-shirts if I let him. This will be fine once he’s picked up by a professional soccer team and earns the big bucks. Then he can take me shopping.
And the stuff merchandisers make for kids to wear today—what the heck happened? Corduroy slacks boys wore in my day have been replaced by pre-shredded jeans, which, thank God, Britween has had the good sense to pass up. “Who wears new jeans that look trashed?” he asked. “That’s just stupid!” Hey, this grandma isn’t raising no fool!
Britween prefers plaid Bermuda-length shorts. He’s even become an aficionado with an eidetic memory: “I have those, Grandma, and those and those, but not these.” How does one kid remember so many different varieties of plaid?
Buying T-shirts used to be fun; printed with graphics of SpongeBob, Power Rangers, Scooby Doo, and dinosaurs. These have replaced by images of Pokeman, Big Time Rush, Angry Birds, and great white sharks. And I hate attitude shirts that are graffitied with rude comments like “Treat me like the Princess that I am” or “It’s all about me.” These get ruder with age.
I saw a grown woman wearing a shirt that announced, “Blondes are adored. Brunettes are ignored.” Really? When she asked me what time it was, I ignored her. A man sporting a shirt emblazoned with “I’m much, much better,” made me wonder better than what? A root canal? A colonoscopy? A blind date with some dweeb wearing a shirt that says, “I’m much, much better”?
I must confess; I own one T-shirt that qualifies as having attitude. There are no words, only an image of a happy lobster lounging in a martini glass. It says to the world that I’m an optimist. Britween, like his grandmother, has one that invites the world to think positive with a soccer ball and the words “Go for the goals in life.”
Once in a while I do capture his attention. I spotted a black-and-white plaid shirt that was an immediate hit. Of course, every rose has its thorns, and now I have to practically pry this garment off his back to wash it.
“It’s fine, Grandma! You washed it, remember?”
“That was two weeks and five wearings ago,” I plead. “It’s ready to walk to the laundry room on its own. Now hand it over!”
Plaid book bags have been usurped by bulky backpacks. I ask myself is he going to school or auditioning for The Amazing Race?
Cute beanies and wooly hats have been supplanted by newer headgear. I have to peer under the bill of a Red Sox or Arsenal Football Club cap to see my boy’s brown eyes, unless he sports one of his favorite fedoras. We arrive at school, I get a quick kiss, and he’s off with his pack of pals. It’s like chauffeuring for Sinatra, which is only fitting. When it comes to fashion, my Britween ultimately does it his way.
Ariel Waterman still has her Man from U.N.C.L.E. lunch box and matching thermos. Send her brand new, unmarked, spiral-bound notebooks via her editor, Ryan Miller, at rmiller
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