This morning when I got to the Y, I looked at my bathing suit and thought, “Boy! Do I need a new one!” Usually it is my friend Kelly who examines all suits at the Y and strongly suggests those people with stretched seams consider a purchase. We call her the Suit Nazi because she is unrelenting in her demands that a suit without much elastic be thrown away.
Of course, realizing I was wearing a totally unsuitable suit made me think of my mother. She wore an old, faded black swimsuit for many summers. I’m sure she occasionally replaced it, but all I ever remember is the stretched part. And when she did replace it, it was replaced with a new, unfaded black swimsuit. Black was definitely Mother’s go-to color for fashion.
If not clothes, what did Mother spend her money on? Well, you already know that she was never without her Pall Mall cigarettes and her “special drink.” In addition, she bought every woman’s magazine in the grocery store. Sign up for a subscription? Heavens no, she would rather pay full price for Women’s Day, Good Housekeeping, and Redbook. She loved reading all the articles and looking at the yummy recipes. I’m sure they had tips on cleaning her house, but Mother managed to avoid those.
Besides magazines, my mother adored gadgets. She was forever buying a melon baller or a tomato seeder. And Tupperware. Well, let me just say that she loved it. She was the Tupperware Lady’s dream come true.
You already know that she would buy any item from the Avon lady. Her orders often could not be contained in one bag. She was thrilled to receive her new moisturizer or a new lip-stick, both of which she would tire of in short order, necessitating another order for new colors.
Later in life, Mother fell in love with Walmart and could spend hours going up and down the aisles. My sister and I both hated making trips to Walmart with Mother in Indiana. She would take the largest cart she could find and start weaving up and down the aisles. She would stand at the book display long enough to have read two or three books. If we mentioned moving along, she would say:
Why don’t you go find something to do and I’ll let you know when I am ready.
I’m sure you have heard about Where the Heart Is, the book about a woman who secretly lived in and even gave birth in a Walmart. My sister and I were afraid Mother would move in and never leave the store if we didn’t get her moving. Looking back, that would have been kind of a win-win for my sister, Mother, and I. But the Walmart people probably wouldn’t have put up with her for long.
After throwing in dish cloths she would never use and canned goods she might or might not open, Mother was ready to depart. Of course, in her later years, this involved my sister or me shelling out a good amount of cash. Actually, whichever of us paid for the groceries was kind of happy because she did not have to pay for the next item: the shoes!
Mother had always had trouble with her feet and she had one foot that was bigger than the other one. She was forever wanting to stop in to a specialty shoe store; you know the ones where the prices are three times what I have ever spent on a pair of shoes. Now my sister and I did not mind Mother getting a new pair of properly fitting shoes. The problem was that she was going to try on every shoe they had, then complain about the choice, the sizes, and the prices. In the end she would buy nothing. The store clerks always glared at us as we made our way out of their establishment.
Maybe that’s why my sister and I are such fast shoppers.