The Butter Files: Back to School Shopping

My youngest starts school next week.  We have not bought one single practical thing.  We have bought a very exclusive set of Pokemon cards and a Pokeman Ball.  You can’t start school without some winning Pokemon cards, according to littleb.

When I was a kid we went back-to-school shopping every August. One year, my step mom gave my grandmother some money and asked her to take me shopping.  I loved my grandmother to pieces and we were both quite happy with this arrangement.  We hopped in the car and headed for the K-mart.  We bought the obligatory under garments and socks, gotta have those, and then we started perusing the aisles for clothing in my size.  Everything was boring.  There wasn’t anything special enough for the third grade.  Not until, that is, my eyes lit on something that stood out.  Something in the purple family.  I separated it from its dull pedestrian neighbors and held it up against my body.

It was purple pant suit perfection.  The entire garment was constructed of the finest machine knit fabric that Taiwan could produce.  Even then I could spot a quality garment.  The tunic-styled top was purple with a gold belt knitted into the waistline.  How practical!  The pants were, you guessed it, purple.  I couldn’t believe my luck.  How could this fashion-forward treasure still be hanging on the rack at the end of August?  It was fate, obviously.

We bought it immediately.  It took all of the rest of our money and my grandmother paused, but I wheedled and pushed.  I needed that pant suit like a chimney sweep needs a chimney. That pant suit was my ticket into the elite world of Mrs. Yates’ third grade classroom.  This much comfort and style would propel me to dizzying intellectual heights, and the stretchy knit fabric would allow me to run faster than a fifth grader on the playground.   I was finally ready for third grade.  “Bring it”, my 8-year-old inner twerp proclaimed.

I was perplexed when my step-mom didn’t seem to consider our shopping expedition a resounding success.  I proudly emptied my one small shopping bag on the couch and held up my first-day-of-school ensemble.  She seemed confused.  She looked at the bag. Then she looked at my grandmother. Then she looked at the bag.  Then her face kind of fell as I stood there, beaming, with the purple pantsuit clutched against my skinny frame.

I was intuitive enough to know something was wrong.  I was smart enough to keep it to myself. No need to stir up a nest of hornets which might, possibly, result in the return of my outfit, so I just stood there, resolutely, beaming and petting my tunic. I pointed out how the belt was built into the garment, how the color was so grand, and how warm the knit fabric would be in the crisp fall weather.  I willed her to see how this outfit would make me a better third-grader.

On picture day that year-in fact, on most days that year-I was a pig-tailed, fleet-footed, speed-reading, rock-stealing, purple-wearing beauty.

I think this must be the way littleb feels about his Pokemon cards.

Chicken out

P.S.  Sorry.  Those records are sealed.

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  6 comments for “The Butter Files: Back to School Shopping

  1. August 23, 2014 at 2:27 am

    HAHAHA! You KNEW we would ask for proof, didn't you! Seriously, I did nearly the same thing one year. We had vacationed in Maine (yes, in the USA!) and were buying back to school clothes. My mother wanted me to load up on all the cheap stuff (prices were so much better than Canada). I wanted one jumper and one skirt which cost the same as all the cheap stuff put together. Finally she gave in. And in later years was proud of me when she told that story. Maybe your step-mother became proud of your choice in later years, too. But the really great thing was that it made you feel good all year.

    Okay, NOW can we see a picture? ;p

    Like

  2. August 23, 2014 at 2:32 am

    Hi Jenny-I thought I had one but i can't find it. If I come across it, I promise I'll share. I'm actually not sure whether my step mom was horrified by our reckless spending or by my fashion sense. She also knows when to keep things to herself:-) I did love that outfit, though. Where did you go in Maine? Maybe we crossed paths:-)

    Like

  3. August 23, 2014 at 4:54 am

    Eeep – that was a few decades ago; I think it was Bangor but I'm not sure. I remember there was a seafood place on a boardwalk, because my brother had deep-fried clams and I had nothing because I was a picky eater (still not keen on seafood, and not sure if I will ever eat shrimp dip, haha). Could that be Bangor? It seems rather landlocked for that. Then again, in Nova Scotia they serve lobster in restaurants all over the province, even the inland parts. Where were you in Maine? Permanent or visiting?

    Like

  4. August 23, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Boardwalk dining reminds me of Boothbay Harbor or, possibly, Portland. I was born and raised a couple of hours from Bangor in a little town called Jay. My family took an RV trip when I was in Jr. High to Nova Scotia, so Ive also been to your neck of the woods. Last week we were in the Camden area. If you ever get the chance to come back, Camden is beautiful.

    Like

  5. August 23, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    While shopping for school clothes for the fifth grade (at Montgomery Ward) I held up a pair of purple flair-leg jeans (it was 1972) and asked my mother if I could have them. To my utter astonishment she grabbed them from me and found a second pair in my size, saying “If you only get one pair they'll be ruined in a month because you won't wear anything else. If you get two, they might last until Christmas.”
    I felt like the coolest thing on sneakers.

    -Doug in Oakland

    Like

  6. August 23, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Doug, I'm sure you were the coolest thing on sneakers. You can't go wrong with purple!

    Like

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