Know what Chickadee loves? Let’s take a brief quiz:
A) When I sing and dance along with Thrift Shop any time it comes on the radio.
B) When I refer to visiting our local Goodwill as “poppin’ tags.”
C) When I respond to any compliment on my attire—however slight—with a deep, booming, “I LOOK IN-CRED-UH-BULL!”
D) All of the above.
E) None of the above, and P.S., it’s not nice to taunt the teenager.
[Your quiz will not be graded. I am too busy cutting the plastic tag thingies off our latest haul. But here's Licorice's favorite video version as a reward for playing along.]
The thing is, I’ve been a thrift store shopper since I was a teen with babysitting money in my pocket. The fact that there’s now a popular song about it doesn’t automatically transform me into a hipster. (Especially when you consider that my most frequent purchases at Goodwill are t-shirts which still have their original store tags. I’m not after your “cool, old” stuff so much as I’m after the bargain on stuff I hope you don’t realize I got at Goodwill. Thank goodness I’m not telling the entire Internet that’s where I got my “expensive” clothes. Um. Oops?) Really the only thing that’s different now is that my kids think it’s cool instead of embarrassing.
Anyway, it doesn’t exactly fill me with joy that thrift shopping is suddenly all cool and whatever. It means there’s a lot more competition for the good stuff at the store, which is kind of a bummer. On the other hand, there was a time when I couldn’t really afford anything other than thrifting, and now I can, I just prefer saving money when I can, so there’s probably an argument to be made that I should stay out of Goodwill and leave the cheap stuff to those who really don’t have any other options. (But please don’t say that because I love Goodwill.)
True to gender stereotypes, if I’m going to go to Goodwill, Chickie wants to come. Chickie wants to shop and she knows I’m unlikely to say no to anything there, particularly if it’s a half-price tag color. And Monkey doesn’t want to go to Goodwill—or any other store—ever. Because shopping is BORING and DUMB and he already HAS CLOTHES, and why am I ALWAYS SHOPPING EVERY DAY? (I do not go shopping every day. Or even every week. But to hear him tell it, all I ever do is shop. (Then again, he’s also convinced all I do for “work” is play Scrabble on Facebook, so he’s not so much what we call a reliable narrator.)
This past weekend it was unseasonably warm, and when Monkey came downstairs in jeans I suggested he change into shorts. He looked at me like I had twelve heads. “It’s going to be HOT today,” I told him. “Like, close to 80 degrees. You’re going to be outside a lot. I think you’ll be too hot in jeans, please find some shorts.”
He went back upstairs, and came back down ten minutes later… in jeans. “Did you get lost?” I asked him.
“No, none of my shorts fit,” he said. At my look of surprise, he continued, “It’s fine. I like jeans. I won’t be too hot.”
“NONE of your shorts fit?” I asked him, boggled. “Do you want me to help you find a pair?”
“It’s FINE, Mom,” he said, eager to stop talking about clothes (stupid clothes!) and get going. “I’m not going to need shorts for months, it’s fine. Let’s just go.”
I thought this was weird. I mean, there’s no question that Monkey is mid-growth-spurt. Pants that he was cuffing and re-cuffing a few months ago appear to have magically shrunk, and after a lifetime of being at least a head shorter than his big sister, the difference between them can now be measured in ever-decreasing inches. But SHORTS offer a much longer wear period than jeans because the length matters a lot less. I remembered replacing most of his shorts last year. How did he outgrow them all? Particularly when this recent growth spurt has rendered him even more pencil-thin than usual?
Definitely weird. But Monkey doesn’t lie. Oh, Monkey sometimes… embellishes… a little. Or leaves out some pertinent info. But I knew he couldn’t possibly be lying, so I scratched my head and let it go.
Yesterday I had an appointment across town, over by the Goodwill, so I stopped in to look for some shorts for my boy-weed. I found two suitable offerings in the next size up from what’s in his drawer, although even as I hooked the hangers over my arm, I thought that they looked awfully big.
And then, of course, because I was there, I just did a quick run through the women’s section. (Why yes, BCBG blouse for $2.50, I don’t mind if I do.) Four shirts for me later, I checked out and went home.
Again, gender-specific reactions from the kids when they found out I’d been to Goodwill:
Chickadee: YOU WENT SHOPPING WITHOUT ME???
Monkey: I have plenty of clothes already!!
“Monkey,” I said, “this weekend you told me you didn’t have any shorts that fit. So I wanted to make sure you had some. Let’s go upstairs and go through your drawer, and you can try these on, too.” He hung his head and shuffled up the stairs, resigned to his fate.
First I made him try on the new shorts. One pair was laughably gigantic (with no way to tighten the waist), and he pulled the waistband aaaaaaaaall the way out while twirling around and telling me not to look at his underwear. (Uh… okay?) The other pair had buttonhole elastic (yep, my strapping 13-year-old is still wearing kids’ sizes, bless him) and by tightening it as far as it would go, rendered the shorts serviceable. Still, this was only making my confusion grow.
“Buddy, you told me you didn’t have any shorts that fit, but these are huge.” He nodded, picking up a book, already bored of this conversation. Suddenly I realized what had happened. At his last check-up, he’d actually grown four inches and LOST eight pounds. “Monkey?” he looked up. “Were the shorts in your drawer too BIG?”
He nodded, slightly sheepish. “I guess I didn’t try them ALL on,” he admitted, “but the ones I did were falling down.”
We went through all the shorts in his drawer and tightened the buttonhole elastic. Voila! His wardrobe fits again. And he didn’t need those new shorts at all, though given that I paid something like $5 total for ‘em, I guess I can’t complain.
Besides, my new shirts are awesome. I LOOK IN-CRED-UH-BULL… and so does my adorable, emaciated son who apparently doesn’t understand how buttons work.