It's hard to believe that I'll be 35 tomorrow. When I was a kid—and even in my early twenties—35 sounded ridiculously "grown up," and 40 seemed positively ancient. Yet here I am, feeling perfectly fine about the milestone.
I probably wouldn't be making much of a fuss about it at all, except that we're going on a cruise in a couple of weeks and my birthday is a convenient justification to go out and shop for some new clothes (hey, I'll shamelessly take any excuse I can get).
I haven't been out shopping for myself in positively ages, so I decided to do it right. I found a babysitter and reserved an entire morning to go out to a local strip mall, my primary mission being to find beachy, sexy clothes to wear on our upcoming vacation.
When I arrived at the shopping center, I was disappointed to find that I'd been "out of the game" for so long that most of the stores weren't there any more. But I spotted one trendy shop still in business, so I headed that direction and told myself the trip would still be a great success.
As I neared the store, I caught a glimpse of the displays and stopped in my tracks. The establishment had turned to the Dark Side—it had become a "hoochie shop."
Unidentifiable hip-hop music pulsed from within the store, where headless mannequins modeled scraps of fabric that didn't seem to serve any particular purpose. Sequined bras and transparent lace leotards hung proudly in the windows, and neon posters shouted in capital letters that the clothes were "ALWAYS ON SALE!! $19.99 OR LESS!! (some more)."
I warily crossed the threshold (I had come too far to turn back now) and was instantly sized up by an employee. She looked me up and down, scowled at my frumpy yoga pants and ratty tee shirt stained with unidentifiable child goo, rolled her eyes dismissively and walked off in search of someone who might actually buy something.
I couldn't decide whether I should be offended or glad.
I probably would have just turned around and left then, but a little devil appeared on my shoulder, urging me to look around. After all, it reasoned, there might be something worthwhile hidden in the back. I acquiesced and ventured deeper into the store.
Upon passing a rack of clingy dresses with giant cutouts in the sides, a little angel appeared on my other shoulder and shouted, "I just don't understand what kids are wearing these days!"
I was immediately shocked that this thought had popped into my head—when had I become such a stick-in-the mud? I told the angel to shut up and stop making me feel old, and the devil on the other shoulder gave me a high-five and asserted that I was damn sexy and could pull off any of the outfits in the store.
Well, except perhaps this one...even the little devil said "WTF?" when it saw this.
I gaped at the fluorescent orange "dress" for a couple of minutes—as if staring at it would miraculously cause it to make sense—then I shook my head, walked away, and ran smack into a display of bedazzled bras.
Once again, a little battle raged inside my brain. The angel was reacting with disbelief. What a ridiculous piece of clothing! What would you even do with one of those? it demanded.
The devil immediately fired back, reassuring me that I could definitely wear one of those if I was in the right environment (although the devil neglected to say what that environment might be).
The internal debate was making my head spin, and it was unclear which side was winning.
Hoping things would improve, I continued deeper into the store. When I rounded a corner and came upon garments that I thought were tube tops but were actually skirts, the angel angrily yelled, Where's the rest of that skirt?
The devil kicked it and and accused me of turning into my mother.