Down East 2013 ©
Last week, I just needed to get out of Dodge. Our double-wide can feel mighty close by the middle of February, if you know what I mean? The tip off? I find myself thinking, Why is Charlie breathing so loud? That’s when I know it’s time to pick up the phone, and organize a field trip. My sister Irene was feeling kind of antsy, too, so off we went to Bangor for a day of shopping.
I love shopping with my sister. Well, I love shopping period, but it’s especially fun with her. First off, it makes both of us feel close to our mother. She was one heck of a shopper, our mother, and the three of us had many a good time pounding the pavement at the Bangor Mall. Mom’s been gone seven years now, but her shopping spirit still burns bright in Irene and me.
So, we both took a mental health day from work, and headed off to the Bangor Mall. We stopped by the Busy Bee first on our way out of town, and each got one of Babe’s famous cinnamon rolls. They were still warm, so the maple icing was kind of soft and runny. A couple of those and a rocket of coffee, and we were in Bangor in no time.
Now before getting out of the car, Irene and me have a little tradition. We say a prayer. “Mom, please guide us in our shopping today. May we find what we’re looking for, and let it be on sale. Amen!” And we’re off!
Our other tradition is bringing along “our colors.” That’s this little notebook with scraps of fabric in it. See, way back when, just as “Color Me Beautiful” was taking off, Irene and me thought it would be a hoot to take Mom to get our colors done. I think we were celebrating her sixtieth birthday, and we’d heard of this gal in Portland through someone who worked with Irene at the time.
Anyways, we drove south, got a hotel room for the night and the next day went to have our colors done. The thing I remember most was all of us laughing and joking around in the car. The instructions were to arrive wearing no makeup at all and a beige top. None of us had a beige top (We’re really not beige people, if you know what I’m saying.), so we wore light colored tops, instead. But the “no makeup” clause? That was a challenge!
The three of us hadn’t left the house for years without makeup. And there we were, driving around in the big city of Portland, with no makeup on except a little lipstick. (I know, technically lipstick is “makeup,” but come on! We couldn’t go completely bare faced. That’s just cruel and unusual punishment!)
I says to Irene, who was driving, “Whatever you do, don’t get in an accident. We don’t want anyone seeing us looking like this!”
“No!” our mother agrees. “No one except you and your father has seen me without makeup in forty years!”
Irene asks, “What about the doctor when you had your gall bladder out?”
“Are you kidding? Oh, they told me not to wear makeup, but I managed to put on a little lipstick anyways, under eye concealer and blush before they wheeled me into the OR. That doctor was a nice looking guy!”
Irene and me almost pee’d our pants, we got to laughing so hard. What a great day!
Turned out we were all “Springs,” though I’m a late spring while Irene and Mom are early springs. From then on, the three of us shopped with our colors. Irene and me still do. By now, of course, we don’t have to look at our color book as often. But if we’re on the fence about something, it’s good to have the book handy.
So last week, our little prayer said, we were in a dressing room at Macy’s trying on clothes, giving each other our opinion on things like only a sister can. I’m looking at Irene in this dress she’s got on that’s just not working. “Too Barbara Bush,” I says. That got her going.
Meanwhile, I’m modeling this lacey top, and Irene just shakes her head, remembering that girl we went to high school with. She goes, “Tammy Carbonneau.”
“Ida, what does the sparrow say?”
And together we go, “Cheap, cheap, cheap!” and laugh some more. Just as we’re heading off to get more stuff to try on, this woman stops us.
“What do you think of this dress,” she asks. “Is it too dowdy?”
Irene jumps in, “Um, I don’t think it’s the dress, so much as the color.”
I agree. “That purple is doing nothing for you. What size is that?”
“Fourteen,” she replies.
“OK, we’ll go look for it in a different color,” Irene says. “I’m thinking sky blue.”
“Or sea foam green,” I add.
See, that’s the magical thing about shopping with Irene. We enjoy each other’s company so much, we’re having so much fun, people are drawn to us. We suddenly become independent style consultants. Irene and me expect good things to happen, and they do.
We end up spending about fifteen minutes with a complete stranger (who looked fabulous in that blue dress, by the way). Then, Irene and me go to Payless, and each get a pair of shoes using their “Buy One, Get One for Half Price” deal, and splitting the cost. We did a little consulting there, for a young lady who was looking for a pair of dress shoes, but kept reaching for these old lady pumps.
“I want to look good,” she goes, “but be comfortable.”
“Honey,” I reply, “that’s a tall order. As they say, “You got to suffer to be beautiful.”
“Look at these!” goes Irene, picking up a pair of black strappy shoes, “Talk about fabulous! Guaranteed to make your legs look longer.”
“Yup,” I agree, “and by doing that, it’ll take ten pounds off your appearance.”
“Really?” goes the girl. (This seemed like news to her. Kid’s today!) But later, the three of us were in line together, and she thanked us for picking out her shoes.
Irene and me had lunch at Friendly’s, where we had the cutest little waitress. She asked if we had the coupon for the free large sundae. We didn’t. But then she says, voice lowered, “I have a couple extras I’ll give you. Don’t tell my boss!” Wasn’t that sweet? So Irene and me both had our favorite: butterscotch sundae with buttercrunch ice cream. Delicious!
We called it quits around two-thirty. We’re loading our bargains into the car and Irene goes, “Mom was with us today!”
“That she was.”
And looking back at the Mall, hands over our hearts we say, “Thanks, Mom.”
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!
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