I’m not the type of person who gets hung up on labels. In fact, I’m quite the opposite. Growing up poor and then being a single mother has taught me many things. 1. Pulling out doesn’t work as a birth control method, 2. You really CAN have too much white rice, 3. Drinking is not cheaper than therapy, 4. $20 goes a long way at a thrift store, and 5. I have and will always have better things to worry about than whether or not my ass says True Religion.
Anytime I do start to think that maybe I would look good in Prada, I reflect back to a something that happened to me when I was about seven. Jordache was HUGE. Everyone wanted Jordache jeans. You weren’t shit if you didn’t walk around with that horse and its flowing mane emblazoned on your ass.
I was just becoming aware of ‘advertisements’ and I bit. Hard. I spent an entire week working on my parents. Begging. Pleading. Crying. Running away. Emptying their Scotch. Selling my sister to the neighbor. Nothing worked. They were blind to my pleas.
Looking back, I know why. We were poor. Between my mother’s inability to keep a job, and my dad’s ability to drink a paycheck away in one bar sitting, we were always struggling to get by. That’s why adult me knows that my poor mother probably had to go without food for a few days to afford to buy me the best gift ever – A Jordache purse.
This, to me, was better than jeans. At seven, I was just beginning to understand that I would be a woman one day, and what better way to say I HAVE ARRIVED! than a lavender Jordache PURSE! I almost died of happiness. I immediately filled it with my Bonnie Bell lip gloss collection and a picture of my hamster. I took it everywhere with me. I slept with it. If my sister so much as looked at it, I would swing back and hit her directly in her face. With my Jordache purse.
One evening we went out for a family night on the town at McDonald’s. We were half way home when I realized I didn’t have my purse. I immediately started to hyperventilate. My dad pulled over, kicked the Busch Light cans out of the way, and started to look for it. It wasn’t in the car. We went back to McDonald’s. It wasn’t in our booth. My sever-year old brain was whirring on overdrive, trying to remember where it could have gone. When it hit me. The Bathroom! I had gone to pee, put it on the door hook, and forgot it! Filled with relief I ran to the restroom. And it was not there. Someone had stolen my Jordache purse.
The Washington, PA McDonald’s had never witnessed a scene such as I caused that night. To this day, it probably remains unrivaled in terms of volume and tears. I was, in a word, heartbroken.
It took me years to recover from the loss. And it taught me to not get too attached to ‘things’, because ‘things’ can go away (of course, so can daddy’s, a sibling’s sanity, and one’s will to live, but those are different blogs!). I put so much stock in that purse; I let it define ‘me’. I finally dried my tears, fed my Sea Monkey’s, and moved on. But I had undergone a fundamental change that would stay with me forever.
Instead of being proud of having expensive things, I became proud of having cheap things. “Nice sweater!” “Thanks! It’s Banana Republic. I got it at the Thrift Store for $3!” Or, “That is a great area rug. Where did you get it?” “Someone was throwing it out. Can you believe it? Once I scrubbed out the blood stain, it was good as new!” You get the idea.
I became the reverse label whore. If it cost more than ten bucks, I wasn’t buying it. This frugality came in very handy when I myself was poor; it got me and junior through some rough times. And old habits die hard. I make more money now, but I am still loath to throw perfectly good drinking money away on clothes. And god forbid they be name brand.
Which is why I am deeply concerned about my recent obsession with Uggs. For some reason, these highly unflattering and overpriced winter boots have invaded my psyche. Much the same as my childhood lust for Jordache jeans. I am trying to battle against this feeling, or, barring that, make Mavrick buy them for me (this crusade has been met with the same success as my long ago attack on my parents, minus the lavender purse consolation prize).
I see them everywhere. And they look so darn cute when worn with the right pants. And sometimes you just want something because goddamnit you want it. And I want Uggs. Not an Ugg purse. I’m not seven anymore. I want a real pair of Uggs. And you know what? I might just put seven- year old me in a time out long enough to go buy a pair. And I will do my best to never leave them in a McDonald’s bathroom.