Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Hitting the Wal...Mart

Call me a snob, but I made a commitment to myself that I would never shop at Walmart. My pledge was similar to Oprah’s diet contract, except instead of vowing to never eat white sugar again, I vowed to never shop in a fat pants warehouse with walls the color of elementary school bathrooms. I grew up shopping to live piano music at Nordstroms where my mom and I would stop for a light nosh on the third floor cafe. It wasn’t even about the money – my mom didn’t have excess funds - it was about the quality of life. My mom’s motto was to do less with panache, then do more with tackiness. I vowed to raise my kids the same way: With class. With style. With elegance. These high hopes also explain my befuddlement when, at 9:30 PM before my son’s first day of summer school, we found ourselves in a Walmart. “No big deal”, I told myself, as I tried to pry Nick off the quarter guzzling Garfield ride in the front of the store. “This is the only place open on a Sunday night. It’s one pair of shoes. Stop being so high minded.” If my logic couldn’t convince me to step off the high horse, all I had to do was turn to my children. First there was Sophia, howling at the top of her lungs for being up past her bedtime. The only thing keeping her quiet was a super sized bag of Cheetos which she would try to hand off to every shopper, proudly announcing “Gak! Gak!” before shoveling them into her mouth. And then, glancing down from her orange stained face, I could proudly look at my son, running around in nothing but a sagging diaper, trying to convince me to buy him purple and pink Barney shoes. He finally settled on a light up pair of Thomas the Tank and, refusing to take them off, started gallivanting up and down the aisles, screaming “I go to school! I wear Thomas!” While I scanned the prices of everything from dog food to baby diapers to house plants, I had to admit that this store was about as cheap as it gets. So what if instead of the aroma of Starbucks from the third floor café there’s the aroma of French fries from a McDonalds. So what if instead of piano music there’s a Southern announcer voice shouting about “dropped prices!” So what if instead of a “Ladies’ Lounge” there’s a bathroom the size of Texas near the portrait center. The fact is, I’m not making a fortune these days. I’m a middle class mother who has to do the most she can with her household income, and if that means “shopping stores with concrete floors”, so be it. It’s time to deal with the reality of life as it is. I know who I am. I don’t need name brands to justify my existence. I’m my own brand name. It’s called Andrea P. And here’s what the tag on the back of my neck says: “XL 35 year old Mom / Writer / Tries to Be Kind / Handle With Care”. As I waited in line behind an Israeli grandma who was haggling the cashier over a ninety nine cent cactus, I made a commitment to buck up and be grateful for the life that I had, even if it meant shopping at Walmart with everyone else. I made a commitment to be real. I made commitment to be penny wise, not pound foolish. And I also made a commitment that, as soon as I hit my writing windfall, I’m making a beeline for Nordstroms.

(* Nicky at 10PM before his first day of Summer School)


Cecelia said...

I am the biggest label snob in the world, yet today, I bought (gasp) two tank tops at Target. This follows my purchase of two Target sweatshirts and a sweater set. I justified the sweater set by noting the Isaac Mizrahi tag. The sweatshirts were Champion--they're pretty good, right. But I knew I had hit bottom when I bought the two Mossimo tanks. Don't tell anyone.

Mama P said...

There's still a huge difference between Target and Walmart. Target is where rich yuppies go when they want to feel like an every day gal. After all, you can't get juice boxes at Nordstroms. Walmart is where either the very poor or the very cheap shop because you can get the juice boxes for five cents less/box. Nothing against my poor or cheap readership. I am including myself in that category. My point: You're still above the fray, my friend.