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.
P.S. Sorry. Those records are sealed.