|1979 print, Carl Larsson|
An exquisitely beautiful older woman was in the painting and knick-knack section, muttering over a suitcase, "Twenty dollars? Is this a joke? You have to be kidding me!" She was wearing a stylish black fur cap and a brilliant pink coat. Her skin was smooth and chocolatey dark, and her hair was absolutely white, peeking out from under her hat.
"I always tell myself that it's for a good cause," I said.
She sort of reluctantly agreed. "I see what they're doing. But so expensive!"
I snatched up the painting and paid for it while she finished her shopping. All the old ladies approved of my purchase—which was brought to the attention of the entire store when the gal ringing me up made an error and asked for eighty-two dollars, then heard herself and shouted, "EIGHTY-TWO DOLLARS. GOOD NIGHT! THAT'S NOT RIGHT AT ALL!"
We finally sorted out my purchase while the woman in the pink coat was considering whether to buy a shirt and sweater for her son. They were laid out on the counter, the volunteer smoothing out the garments to fold. "I don't know. He's gotten a little conservative lately."
"Conservative! You can't get much more conservative than this beige button-down! I mean, I could see plaid being a problem, or stripes or polkadots...!" And she gestured widely and dramatically over the utterly bland shirt.
And then they all started talking about how they pick out clothes for their children, clothes that seem perfectly marvelous, and the children pooh-pooh them.
I said the same happened with my boys, and then I realized. These old ladies' children are probably my age. Which means I'll get to annoy my children with inappropriate clothing gifts and then delight in feeling unappreciated—FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE, AMEN.