Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Babes in Mall Land
Despite my long-held desire never to birth children of my own, I have over the past year found myself in the intriguing position of serving as a surrogate parental-type unit to my sixteen-year-old-niece. The shorthand version is that she's had a less than desirable upbringing, and although her father is currently making amends, most everyone else to whom she is related, including the woman who birthed her, is begging off.
Which leaves - ta da - Moi.
On the one hand, who better to hover cautiously overhead with a greater-than-average understanding of the average teenage proclivity towards pouty-lipped, arm-crossed rebellion?
On the other: Good Lord. Why didn't someone warn me about Hot Topic?
I'm the kind of person who resolutely believes that there's nothing so terrible in life that it can't be fixed by lunch out followed by shopping. Whether or not that is an advisable surrogate parenting tactic, much less the basis for an entire life philosophy, work with me here, Party People; it's all I got.
So most of the time I spend with my niece is time spent eating and time spent shopping. And since she managed to receive a healthy little bankroll for Christmas, naturally her first question to me this weekend was, "Aunt Moi? Can we go shopping before I go back to school?"
On the one hand, totally! On the other, I knew our foray would eventually lead us to Hot Topic, a place which, never mind my own teenage punkette history, I find so loathsome, so insufferably tacky, I feel a "Five miles uphill through the snow." lecture coming on just thinking about it.
But, as I have come to discover, if you have a teenager in your life, there is no escaping Hot Topic. One day you're operating under the golden glowed assumption that all retail shopping is a version of the cashmere coddled dreams engendered by Bergdorf's and the next you are lured against your will and with much shock and horror into the incense reeking, music-blarring, darkened depths of Hot Topic.
Really, I try. I try not to feel old; try not to pass judgment on the parade of wary-eyed teens with their lank hair, slack jaws, and pissy attitudes; try not to ponder for the gazillionth time the wisdom of allowing these children to grow up to be our fyoooture.
So there I was again yesterday, trying. And watching. Watching, with a certain feeling of deja vu, as my niece meticulously made her way through racks of belts in her search for just the right kind of faux leather studded belt. Watching, irritation edging over into amusement, as a male specimen of her species made several nonchalant passes by the racks, hands stuffed in pants that were inching themselves slowly down over grungy, plaid-patterned underpants, while trying for the most part to look like he was trying not to look. Suddenly, somehow, courage outweighed angst, and said specimen presented himself fully in front of my niece. "Cool," he said, with a flip of his hair. "Anarchist chick."
My niece, who thankfully remains mostly nonplussed by the quality of male attention that slouches itself her way, simply rolled her eyes, turned her back, and went back to her task. Away slouched the specimen, most likely to hone in on another anarchist chick, although the last I saw him, he was paying an alarming amount of attention to a stack of Twilight tee shirts.
Later, after the purchase of the proper faux studded belt, along with two pairs of black stovepipe skinny jeans from 5-7-9, a neon green top from Pac Sun, and a pair of outrageously over-sized sunglasses from Anchor Blue, we stopped for further sustenance at Dipping Dots. While in line, my niece turned to me, put on a thoughtful expression and said, "Aunt Moi? That poser dude got it wrong. I'm not an anarchist. I don't want chaos; that would be stupid. But I do think our government is dangerous. Don't you?"
Crab apple? Meet tree.