Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Possum in Nordstroms


A foundation of a firm, but tender crust made up of solid Midwestern values, covered with a hearty helping of a saucy, smoky-sweet liberal arts education, a generous helping of spicy bits of humor, chunks of savory personality, all finally, topped with tasteful good looks, a sprinkling of humor and genuine flakes of true empathy. If Betty was a pizza, she would be what in the pizza world is referred to as "The Works."

So why is it when I entered the Nordstroms which recently opened in the local mall, my eyebrows began to grow together, my socks lost all elasticity, my teeth grew mossy and salsa stains appeared on my shirt? I hesitantly walked the luminous floors, through the shining aisles of premium goods, all the while fearing that the medically-clad women at the brightly glowing cosmetic cube would ask me to come behind the counter where they would escort me to the elevator-like pneumatic tube concealed within the walls of the cube and shoot me to J.C. Penny's where I belonged.

My stomach began to flip as I felt my inner possum of shopping scramble about inside me. He was out of his element here under the chandeliered lights and longed for the familiar dimly lit backyard discount stores. The spacious, open displays of $170.00 cashmere sweaters were threatening. There were no warrens of crowded clothes racks to hide behind, no bins of mixed-up t-shirts to burrow beneath. He made it clear he was ready to go. I knew I had to at least try and overcome.

I breathed deep and pushed myself further into the store. I put on a casual air and stopped to look at a suit jacket. I did my best to stifle the half laugh/half gasp of disbelief and astonishment at the $700.00 price tag. The strange sound gurgling up and the fact that I slapped my hand over my mouth alerted a nearby worker that I might have been about to vomit on the expensive jacket. She was a remarkably thin woman in a black dress. She came to my side, but not too closely, to ask me if I needed help. Her impeccably arched eyebrows seemed to indicate true inquisitiveness, so much so that I wanted to grab her arm and say, "Oh yes, I DO need help. I really do! I've got to get this whole thing figured out. Can we sit down somewhere and talk for an hour or so? Can I bring my possum with me?" Instead I just smiled a crooked smile and shook my head.

She backed away, smiling and nodding politely. She could smell the Ross on me; her mind automatically calculated the thread count of my white shirt and found it below industry standards. Did she perhaps recognize the jacket upon my back as the one she donated to Goodwill two months ago? No loud Hawaiian shirt and sandals could have announced it more clearly: I was a tourist here. She knew that and I knew it too. I was not from this country of $400.00 handbags and $150.00 shirts.

My visit was over. It was time to go home. The possum, now calmer, nodded in agreement. We went and got a cookie at Mrs. Fields before leaving the mall.

3 comments:

Susan said...

I feel exactly the same as you do while in Nordstroms. Part of me is quite proud that I do not fit in there, however. Nobody has witten about it so clearly as you. Thank you!

Karen Llata said...

Betty, did you take the picture of the cute little critter? I love it!

Shan said...

Oh my goodness, I know exactly how this feels! It's a gift from my mom, who repeatedly reminded us that Sears and JC Penney were too expensive because they were at the mall. I learned the truth about those stores, but it still took me a long time to venture into May Co. and Nordstroms. And the first time I dared to lunch at Nordstroms was less than a decade ago.