Once upon a time, in suburban Connecticut, a boy named Sam had to go to the local mall at seven o'clock on a Saturday morning. Charlotte wanted to find me the proper attire for my dance. We argued and screamed. I cursed. She covered her ears. I repeatedly slammed my head into the bathroom door, begging not to go. Charlotte won. She did the whole "watery eye thing", saying "We've never gone shopping before, darling." It's true, Charlotte was always too drunk to shop, even when we really needed it. When she did shop it was never with me. It was always on a whim between binges. Or she'd make a run to go get cigarettes, and notice her malnourished, half clothed children on the way out of the house. I decided I should put the melodrama away for a more important battle.
Reading the license plates on the way to the mall I read "Connecticut the Nutmeg State". I think the plates should read: "Connecticut a place for complacency." We passed a giant billboard. It read: "Connecticut if you lived here, you'd be home now." I felt the billboard should have read:"Connecticut, if you lived here you'd be bored." Or perhaps something more simple and straight to the point: "Connecticut, kill your self!" We past a mushroom farm that smelled like pig shit. And a trailer park which smelled the same. Yes, Charlotte and I saw all the exotic wonders of this native land.
"Do you want to try Sears or JC Pennys first." Charlotte asked as if I had a definite opinion on the matter. Well of course I preferred Sears home ware, but their boys evening ware was lacking; While JC Pennys really catered to the modern lifestyle and fashion of a young man like my self. "Charlotte I really don't care I think they have the same shit." I said with an eye roll. "My word that mouth!" Charlotte really thought she transformed into the Queen of England. My mouth was a matter of genetics, old Mom had it and Christine had it. I'm sure if I ran into my father (who I never met) in a crowded room I'd be able to tell who he was by the words he used before I'd recognize him by our similarity in features.
JC Pennys it was! Yellow lights, sickly faced shoppers, and beige walls filled my eyes. Charlotte picked up five green button downs in various hues of gross. "Those all look the same." I told her, and she assured me they weren't. There were other teens there, all with the same make believe grimace painted on their face, a pinch away from snapping. Plastic sales associates moved threw the racks like a rat maze. There was a sale on kakis that Saturday. The prison like loud speaker told me so. I'm surprised there isn't a sale on kakis every day. Kakis are stiff, almost always pleated, and always unflattering. Upon entering the sales department there was a giant advertisement for kakis. It featured white rich people on a beach somewhere in Cape Cod having the time of their lives giving each other piggy back rides. This was my new life goal: never be these people.
Charlotte grabbed a pair of kakis, which style I would call "dumpy professional" and shoved me in a dressing room. There was four other younger boys already inside, complaining with squishy faces. The youngest of the boys had made an accident in his new off the rack slacks. I was waiting for one of the adults in the dressing room to take notice. They didn't. I stood nervous to make a move, there were no stalls, just a large open space with mirrors all around. Charlotte stood out side the door yelling "How do they fit darling." I thought about trying them on, then the kid with the accident came running at me with shit on his hands. I ran from the dressing room and told Charlotte they were perfect.
The woman checking us out was about sixty, and she was quite the chatty Cathy. "Wow twenty dollars for a whole outfit can you imagine? What a bargain! You're going to be one smartly dressed little fellow!"she said. I don't know if I'd consider my self smartly dressed or that this was a bargain. I could have fashioned a better outfit out of some trash bags, a roll of duct tape, and some baby spit. Charlotte was so please with her self, she blushed and turned to me in celebration "Did you hear that Sam? A great bargain! Your mother is quite the smart shopper!"