I have a confession to make; in just two days, I shopped at the new Gap Factory Outlet in Saint John, twice.
Yes, some of you will say: "That's all, girlfriend. You should go back today!"
But, there will be those of you who think I have a problem, a serious problem, and after much consideration, I have decided my affinity for factory outlet shopping is beyond my control. It is in my genetic make-up. You see a lot of people say I am like my grandmother, Alice, or affectionately known as Allie by me and my siblings, and she was a shopper to the extreme. In fact, she turned her love of shopping into a career when she was the shopper for Calp's Department Store here in Saint John during the fifties and would visit designers and fashion shows in New York City and Montreal to stack the racks at Calp's. How much fun would that be! Fortunately, for me, genes tend to undergo mutations, and her love for all shopping, anytime and anywhere evolved into a strictly factory outlet shopping fetish in her granddaughter. This mutation could have occurred solely due to environmental influences like a lack of money, but nonetheless, it occurred. You will never find me perusing the shops uptown or in the mall. If I have to buy something from one of these stores, I rush in and rush right back out. I do it out of necessity rather than love but, if you place me within a twenty mile radius of any outlet mall, I will burn a strip off my debit card faster than it takes most people to down their favourite beverage. It's crazy!
Again, I blame my grandmother. Some of my fondest memories as a child were the annual trips my sister and I would take with my grandmother and her sisters down to North Conway, Kittery, and Freeport. These ladies were serious shoppers! We would wake up, devise our plan of attack on the outlet malls, and charge! (I love playing with double meanings . . . tee hee!) We wouldn't even stop to eat until we returned to our hotel that night. It's amazing my sister and I even survived, but we did, and we enjoyed every minute of it. After we inhaled our meal of pizza and drank copious amounts of soda, we would lie in bed and listen to all the crazy stories from their childhood. These three women loved to shop, but they loved to laugh even more.
Eventually, we had to head home, which meant we had to cross the dreaded border. My grandmother viewed cross-border shopping as a game with the intent of the game being to outsmart the border guards and pay as little duty as possible. The morning of our return, my grandmother would scour the receipts and determine which ones we could claim and which ones would have to disappear. Then we would remove all traces of tags, stickers and plastic do-flickies from our new clothing and put them on. Yes, we had to wear all of the clothes we bought, layer upon layer. We must have looked ridiculous! Then as we approached the border crossing, my grandmother prohibited anyone from talking or laughing, which made all of us, including her sisters, laugh even more. As soon as we would approach the gate, my grandmother would wave the receipts she deemed okay to present in front of the border patrol and gave him all of the necessary information about who was in the car and who spent what. Meanwhile, we were sitting in the backseat of the car stifling our nervous laughs and sweating all over our newly purchased clothes. Then, miraculously, he would wave us through. Even though we all wanted to shout out in victory, my grandmother would prohibit us from speaking until we were well out of St. Stephen. She was convinced they had the border towns of St. Stephen and Calais wired with cameras and audio equipment to catch cross-border shopping criminals like ourselves . . . tee hee! I love that woman!
Anyhoo, as crazy as these shopping trips were, they seared an affinity for outlet shopping deep within my subconsciousness, and I become powerless when standing amidst piles of new clothing adorned with bright signage reading 30%, 40%, 50%, and 60% off. Oh, sweet manna!
So, on Monday afternoon, when the boys and I were headed to Costco, I spotted the new Gap Factory Outlet store with cars lined up out front and a massive purple sign reading 60% off, and I squealed with delight. I could feel my pulse increase and a million excuses as to why I should really stop in flooded my mind and drowned out the already-barely-present logical voice saying: "Keep driving. You don't need anything". But, the wonderful thing was that I did need something. My poor boys, who did not receive any back-to-school clothes in September, were still wearing shorts most days because they had either outgrown their pants or they were so ripped you might as well wear shorts. Armed with my debit card and a purpose, I marched into that store and immediately, was enshrouded in warm, fuzzy feelings of nostalgia. I breathed in the new clothes' smell and soaked up all the sights and sounds of other women indulging in the sacredness of outfitting their families in trendy, yet ridiculously affordable clothing. Ahhhh! This is what life is all about.
Now, before you decide that I am entirely shallow, insane, or a bit of both, hear me out. Gap is one of the few stores where I can buy pants for my boys because they are one of the few franchises that offer slim, skinny jeans with the elastic waist. I kid you not! My boys' legs are so skinny that regular straight-legged jeans look like cargo pants on them. Even with the slim, skinny jeans, I have to pull the elastic band as tight as it will go to fit around their waist and they are still baggy. Craziness! Thankfully, the boys indulged me by getting excited about our little impromptu shopping trip, and one of them even let me take his picture in the dressing room. I have the best kids!
Poor Mr. Level-Headed doesn't even say anything about my shopping splurges anymore. He just smiles and nods, while I show him my booty (tee hee! . . .again, double-meaning . . . love it!) and go into a long treatise on the pros of my recent clothing acquisition. But, check out these savings! Not even his level-headed self could argue with sales like this.
Then, Tuesday night at dinner time, Zoe was going over the itinerary for her day at the Saint John Regional Hospital for "Take your Child to Work Day". We have a really good friend, who is a cardiologist there, and he signed Zoe up for a special workshop the heart unit was offering to grade nine students in the area who were interested in health sciences. She had a blast! They kept them busy all day and some of her highlights included touching a heart that was just dissected and watching a surgery. If those were her highlights, I think Baby Girl will make a fabulous doctor someday.
Anyhoo, when Zoe was reading over the itinerary, she noticed that the dress code was business casual. Being a fourteen year old girl, her closet is only filled with jeans, sweatpants and skirts for church, and, as she so adamantly informed us, she was not wearing any of these to her first day of "work". She looked at me with a twinkle in her eyes, and I knew immediately where we could find a solution to this very, real problem of hers: The Gap! Mr. Level-Headed, who is weak to the whims and desires of his two favourite girls, just laughed and waved us off. Woohoo! Is there any doubt as to why I love that man? My only condition for Zoe was that I had to be able to take a picture of her adorning her new "grown-up" clothes and be granted permission to put it up on the blog. Again, it's all about knowing your children's weaknesses.
Without further ado, I would like to present the very-rare, and almost never present on this blog, Zoe Webster (aka Baby Girl)!
Gosh, darn it, she is too cute!
Well, there you have it, folks. I'm a diet cola drinking, Stamping, outlet-shopaholic. Please don't judge me too harshly. And if you know of any meetings for people with my unique addiction-make-up, please keep it to yourself. I really do not care to be reformed.