Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Epiphanies in a Mall

Yesterday, I went shopping at a local upscale mall.

As usual, I had a cup of judgement with my eggs for breakfast. I was feeling superior, hip and young, scoffing at the other "yuppie" moms with their $800 strollers, expensive clothing and leisurely days.

I had a gift certificate for a handbag (one that I will not be able to carry for months, er, years possibly thanks to the ever present diaper bag). I asked the sales lady to bring out about two dozen bags from the display case. I petted the leather, opened the bags, assessed the space and finally chose one. As the sales woman rang up my order, she turned to me, smiling: "You were fun to wait on today, most of the other moms we get are so mean."

It was a nice thing to say. And I guess I was amusing, leaping across the floor, clapping my hands and screaming, "I love my new bag." But when did I become one of the "other moms"? And did she mean those snobby moms? The ones I had just been mocking as I walked around the mall?

And then I reviewed my morning. I woke up, put on my gym clothing, let the cleaning ladies in and drove to this chic mall in my luxury car. After browsing a while, I picked up a designer bag while strolling with my daughter in her fairly high end stroller. I was in a rush because I was trying to make my spinning class. Given the evidence, I might have been guilty as charged.

"It is all relative," my friend told me later. To someone looking at me, maybe I was just another yuppie mom with too much leisure time and an expensive stroller. But I know the truth. Yesterday was a fluke, an illusion.

I read. I worry about money. I freelance write. I am busy with (and stressed about) many other things besides spinning and baby-raising, expensive handbags and leisurely lunches. My bumper sticker would read: "My other other car is a dented 2001 Hyundai Accent." But what did I look like yesterday from the outside?

It occurred to me that maybe some of the other women I had been mocking have their own truths. Maybe they worry about money more than it seems. Maybe their husbands are out of town and they are struggling to stay sane. Maybe they cannot get the "check engine" light to go off in their car. Maybe they also hear the Talking Heads scream "this is not my beautiful house" as they face a sales lady in Bloomingdales.

If I am not one of "them," maybe they aren't either.

All that and a fabulous handbag. Maybe I should shop more often.

1 comment:

Kristi said...

I've learned that things aren't always what they seem. Although I shop at a grocery store in the wealthiest suburb in my city where the women are dressed in designer everything to pick up diapers, I highly doubt they're as together as they seem.

That said, those who treat salespeople like dirt generally are pretty crappy human beings.