Saturday, March 8, 2008


Every so often Mike expresses his feeling that all the other parents at the kids' school look at him weird like he's a serial killer. "We're just so different from them," he'll say. I usually try to reassure him that we're not really that different. All our lives probably involve taking care of kids, trying to keep a house clean, and fitting in time for a relationship. We might look a little rough around the edges, but we're essentially the same.

Nothing like a trip to the mall to give me a reality check. We are different. I'm not sure I can pinpoint exactly what it is, but we don't exactly fit in with the "Standard American Person" (SAP). I went to the mall thinking I'd surely be able to find a couple of new shirts and maybe a pair of new pants. I'm not too hip to the new fashions these days (I've had a good number of my clothes since high school and even those are thrift store finds), so I was pretty disappointed with my selection, along with several other things.

Here are my disappointments:
*Victoria's Secret bras without underwires come with about an inch of padding.
*Having one of my tattoos inspire patronizing laughter from an ex-IT guy cashiering at Radioshack.
*All the shirts were shaped like potato sacks with garish primary colors in geometric patterns on cheap synthetic fabric.
*Every woman I saw was wearing an obscene amount of make-up. Was there a beauty pageant at the mall today?
*The woman at Panera looked at me like I was insane when I asked for a side of hummus and a demi-baguette. "Um, the hummus is for the sandwiches."
*The guy at Guitar Center told me I really needed a plastic bag even though I said I'd prefer not to have one. "You'll need to show the guy at the door that you bought this stuff. You'll need a bag." I had to refuse the bag again and assure him that a receipt could verify my purchase better than a bag.
*Then I realized I forgot something at Guitar Center and I had to explain the no-bag-thing to another cashier.

Can't a girl just get a non-padded, non-underwire bra while wearing no make-up and then have some hummus and bread? Can't she just say no thanks to a plastic bag and find some plain and simple cotton shirts that look nice with her tattoos?

Apparently not.

I suppose its our values that are different from the S.A.P. Or maybe just the way we live out our values. Maybe it's because we're vegan, or because we're non-violent, or don't want to buy stuff for the sake of buying stuff. Maybe it's because we're feminists, or because we're co-op folk, or because we ferment miso in the basement. Maybe it's because we like old-fashioned stuff, or are environmentalists, or only shower once a week. Perhaps it's my tattoos, Mike's beard, or our poor fashion sense.

Whatever it is, I know it's not changing and I know there's lots of people out there that we do fit in with. They just weren't at the mall today.


Al said...

Right on!

A group of your people (at least the "vegan parent" part) are meeting at Evergreen tomorrow! I'm totally sending you an email with info.

Al said...

Um. Or not, since I can't email you. Anyway, send me an email via my profile page if you're interested in attending a Minnesota Vegan Families get-together. We have a google group page and everything!

pavotrouge said...

I totally know what you mean. It happens to me at school, at work, namely at all places where I didn't choose the people to be there or go to voluntarily.

Kristine said...

THANK YOU! Thank you Thank you Thank you! I (we) can TOTALLY relate! On all levels! Yesterday I was purchasing some groceries, including some organic broccoli. Now, usually the cashiers at our local store know we don't use plastic bags, but this particular cashier was evidently not in the loop. He TWICE just started loading my stuff into a bag, and I told him TWICE that I had my own, it was fine, and then he says "Well don't you want a produce bag for the broccoli?!" I reply, "No, I don't want ANY bags" He says, "Well, you better make sure you wash it really well then."

WHAT?!!??!?! Like my bag is a pool of chemical death or something? JESUS!

Oh, and on the tattoo front, we get the stare down 24/7. Us inked folk gotta stick together. Thanks for letting me rant, and enjoy yours!

Sara said...

Ack, woman, why would you go to the MALL? It's the belly of the forking beast! As per the bra frustration, though, American Apparel does make non-padded, non-sweatshop over-the-shoulder boulder-holders. I honestly don't know why every other bra manufacturer wants us to walk around all day with our fun bags propped under our chins with enough padding to go white-water rafting in.

If it's any consolation, my wedding is coming up in 2 months, and you should see the looks and hear the comments I get from bridal shop salespeople over my tattoos. One lady recommended a "really great concealer." Yes, because what I REALLY want is to spackle my arms with flesh-colored paint for an outdoor May wedding in humid central NC.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly how you feel! I get odd looks everywhere for bringing my own bags, and what is with all of the makeup?! I mean, seriously?! Are these women trying to cover up big holes in their faces or something?!

I am ashamed to admit, but I have never been to Pizza Luce!
I just don't eat out all that much...but I have heard such wonderful things about that place I will have to try it soon!


Jennifer said...

I completely understand and I don't even have kids. I got a new job and just wanted some plain pants and you would have figured I was looking for a custom ordered spaceship. And don't get me started on bras, just because some of us aren't as 'endowed' as others, doesn't mean we want to fake it.

Hahahahaha! I totally understand what you mean!Those rare times we have to go into the 'mainstream' you really feel how different you are, eh?

Vegan_Noodle said...

I HATE the mall. I always feel like I"m out of touch when I walk in one... then I just realize I have a different set of values.
Oh and I totally get that about the plastic bag all the time. Drives me crazy. Sometimes they just pretend not to hear me even though I've said it about ten times.
Glad to know other people experience the same thing :-)