Tuesday, November 19, 2013

In the Middle of Some Age By: Karen Pilarski

I'm the dork in blue with the bowl cut.
In my childhood and early teens years the mall wasn't the hip place to be. Cough, at least for me. My brothers enjoyed walking with a swagger up and down the floors of the crowded Southridge mall.

Greasy smells from the food court and near toxic cologne sprays ambushed shoppers upon arrival. Gold chains, spiked hair and loose pants were used as ploys to catch a honey's eye or digits. Pagers beeping randomly and flirty laughter kept the ambiance in tact. There was a McDonald's that had a forest decor.

When I did go to the mall it was with my friend April who lived across the street. Her mom drove us there sometimes.

April tended to keep up with the 90's styles. I was content with the non hand me downs. We would peruse gaudy earrings and skimpy. Her mom would arch her eye brow in a disapproving way but within a second we were checking out the overall bibbs and jean jackets.

Over the weekend a time warp occurred.  My thirteen year old was making me look at clothes in the mall with her. Evidently the style that is in is the 90's.

 Had I saved my wardrobe from decades ago my stepdaughter would be set.  Colorful and skimpy clothes hung on hangers and other teenagers remarked how cool the clothing was.

From our mini excursion to the mall I felt the following three things.

1. Fat- The clothes were tight and the sizes were small. I haven't observed a number that small since looking at the calories in a Tic Tac mint.

2. Broke- Geesh, was clothing always this expensive? We bought jean jackets and bleached then or cut holes in our own jeans. I don't miss clothes from the turbulent teen years. That is one bouncy and bumpy ride I don't have the urge to recreate.

3. Old- Where did the time go? Now April and I are taking our kids to the mall and being dragged around. We are now the embarrassing adult in sea of mopey adolescents.

I felt a bit granny-ish but by Monday I felt better. That evening I attended a fancy dinner. My husband Jason wanted to us to sit with a colleague of ours. My husband and the older woman knew each other very well from church. She brought another lady from church as a guest.

As I networked with a fellow table mate, the church ladies were engaged in reminiscing about my husband's former wife. "Jason, remember when you and *** taught bible study together?" Awkward!  Then the conversation settled on personal family matters. I nudged my husband (hard) and asked him to knock it off.

The church lady out of nowhere said "The first time I met you I thought you were twelve." Ouch. She could have said I looked very young or she was unsure of my age.

Church lady was flapping her gums with no realization of my increasing annoyance. "I told someone that I thought Jason was sitting with a child". I excused myself from the table before my plate of food landed on her head.

After my return the church ladies asked where I worked. "So Karen, what do you want to be when you grow up?" I snapped "I am grown up thank you." That silenced the church lady chit chat. My husband and I made our exit shortly after that.

How did I go from feeling ancient to feeling like the Shirley Temple back in the day? I forgot to cake on the blush and put my long straight hair in tight spiral curls. The ruffled dress was at the dry cleaners, my apologies.

Jason said I take things to heart and am hard on myself.

This morning I had an epiphany about the statement. I may take myself seriously but only because not many people take me seriously. One glance and it is assumed I'm a girl who is wet behind the ears in terms of writing and life.

While the trends from my youth have been made to look brand new, my age hasn't. What tired eyes don't see is a published writer, wife, mother and master's degree holder.

 Somewhere between being an old spinster, a dimple faced child  or mall loving hipster, resides me.

                                         "Lets Go To The Mall." How I Met Your Mother (CBS) 2006