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?
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.