Yesterday, I called Siobhan and ascertained that her job had kept her busy a full 17 hours on Friday and she was too punch drunk to argue with me when I declared we were going out to dinner. Later, we had one of our festive social microbursts in the shoe section of Nordstrom, so you shouldn’t worry Siobhan was defenseless. We agreed to storm the designer barracades at the Coach store in the Menlo Park Mall first because Siobhan, unlike any other woman in history, destroyed the will and seams of a Coach bag and Siobhan was ready to call Coach’s We-Replace-It bluff. It hasn’t been a good week for Siobhan. On Thursday morning, she emailed.
Siobhan: Dad just called, he melted the glass on the microwave, and while we were discussing his buying a new one, he alerted me to the fact that one of the deck chairs was on fire. What the hell? I’ll be calling him back in a minute, I let him go so he could put it out. So he could put out the fire.
I was still barking at my monitor when she called thirty seconds later.
Siobhan: Get this: his Hot Pocket caught fire and destroyed the microwave so he put out his lunch, dropped it into a cardboard box and left it on a metal deck chair, which caught fire and he had to put out the furniture, too.
Tata: Your dad has teh crazy.
Siobhan: My dad has teh stupid. And now we have to buy a microwave.
Tata: Your misadventure ends in shopping, which you love! Yahtzee!
Unfortunately, shopping fails to eradicate the acrid smell of flaming lunches 100% of the time, which Siobhan is complaining about on our drive up Route 1 to the Menlo Park Mall which proceeds at a glacial pace. Suddenly, we discover why. In an intersection to our left, flashing lights we saw from way off turn into a raft of traffic-blocking police cars.
Siobhan: An entire can of Oust did nothing to freshen the air.
Tata: Look, crash-crash! Boom! Hey, more crashy-crashy!
Siobhan: Two accidents on either side of the same intersection? The odds against that must be astronomical.
Tata: Somebody wins the whole betting pool at the cop shop today! When you get home, use Febreez on all your fabrics – the drapes, the chairs, the couches, the carpet, everything. You may have to do it a couple of times.
Siobhan: Febreezing my couch isn’t going to get smoke out of my house.
Tata: You’re goddamn right it isn’t. Only steam-cleaning and time do that, but at least you’ll see progress. And be more careful! You just used ‘Febreez’ as a verb.
Chalk it up to exhaustion. We put on game faces and marched into the Coach store, ready for anything except what happened. In the interest of full disclosure, let me admit that I despise shopping, dislike handbags and hate nearly all shoes. I am deaf to whatever siren song lures women to shoe sales and concommitant credit card debt, and though I have other problems, I go all squinty-eyed when women talk about pocketbooks because I simply don’t get it. Thus, in the Coach store, where quality is never in dispute, I felt oddly certain good taste had taken a holiday – or a powder. Everything was overly ornate and decorated for decoration’s sake and ugly. The salesgirl who appeared smoothly and quietly between us was shocked at the vehemence of my sincere loathing for products without price tags that sold for more than my rent. Siobhan eventually threw up her hands in frustration and we relocated to the Coach department at Nordstrom, which mysteriously had a better selection of murderously ugly Coach bags than the Coach store. Siobhan found something that didn’t make me toss my waffles, but when she told me how much it cost I think I threw up a little.
I was right across the aisle, prowling the shoe displays and cackling madly. Each colorful island of carefully placed footwear was more ridiculous, more torturous and more stupefying than the next, all guaranteed to put me in the hospital and even more frustrating because Nordstrom was where I used to buy sharp Docs. Siobhan plunked down on a couch with her thrilling purchase, annoyed. I stared around wildly, clucking like a chicken.
Tata: Greedy orthopedists design these shoes, I’m sure of it. Look at this! I’m never wearing this crap.
Siobhan: That’s what’s in style.
Tata: I looked around for sturdy, flat shoes for athletic, capable women who aren’t surrendering to femmy fashion. There’s nothing like that here anymore. I can’t believe it.
Siobhan: Docs are not fashionable anymore. There was a movement, and a lot of young women adopted it, and that movement is no more.
Tata: Just because something is in style doesn’t mean it has style. I am not at all going to wear three- and four-inch stacked heels, and if you catch me in espadrills, throw me in a bathtub and have me deprogrammed. I will find flat shoes that don’t disable me. Other people can follow stupid fashions, but I have actual style. If the mainstream zigs and I’m zigging, fine! But if I’m zagging, screw it.
Siobhan: We can get Docs online. For shoes with an edge, we’re going to have to leave the state.
Tata: I don’t need Docs, per se. I have to try shoes on.
Siobhan: We’ll have to look in Philadelphia.
Tata: Okay, so we go shopping in zigging Philadelphia!
Ding! The bell rings and the fight’s over. The salespeople relax visibly as we leave. We race to the car and to the restaurant.
Tata: I’m going to order yellow food!
Siobhan: Why yellow?
Tata: Because I now fear no tumeric!
Siobhan: OH. MY. GOD. I get it! I get why yesterday you were running around shouting, “I WANT MERLOT!” It’s red! I thought you just wanted booze! But no, you wanted red! And we’re going to have colorful food and – screw it. Let’s skip dinner and go eat a whole blueberry pie!
Tata: Maybe later. There’s chicken tikka masala in my future, which is more red than yellow. I’m working primary colors, here.
Siobhan: Blue! You need blue food!
Tata: You know what I can do after dinner without braces?
Siobhan: Pick up discriminating vagrants at the train station?
Tata: I can floss, baby, floss!