What recession?

On Friday, Bossy posted a great photo of a Goodwill store advertising “lower prices”, citing this as evidence that the economy is in the crapper.  That may be the case where Bossy lives, but I went to the mall yesterday and saw ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE that the economy is suffering.

I normally am loathe to go to the mall. But, my oldest son and his friend, our 14-year-old neighbor, wanted to go look at stuff for their skateboards, and I was in the market for something cute to wear to the clubs in Vegas next week. Nothing crazy, maybe a simple black dress, ideally MAD on sale, because Soup never pays full price.

The boys and I parted ways and I set off to pursue a hot tip I had received – all the cocktail dresses were on sale at Macy’s! Get outta my way! Only when I got there, it was MOBBED.  I was at the intersection of “all the summer cocktail dresses are on sale” and “homecoming’s just around the corner,” the the ensuing crowd resembled A SWARM OF HORNETS. Either the local economy is in fine shape, or else thousands of teens and their families are in complete denial.  When I saw the line snaking outside of the fitting room, with girls bouncing out to model dresses for their parents, I shuddered, thanked God for my three boys, then took my dresses over a fitting room in a different department.

And then I remembered that my 41-year-old body, the one that has borne three babies, has never really been a good match for odd-numbered sizes. I left empty-handed but thankful I didn’t have to wait in line to pay.

By the time we reconvened, the boys had purchased some doodads for their skateboards and a couple of video games, and I was starting to develop hives from all the crowds. I suggested we detour through the food court to grab some sodas before heading home.  At 4 in the afternoon, the place was packed, with lines at all the stands. 

You don’t go to the food court to check things off the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In fact, there’s really nothing at the shopping mall that belongs there. The mall is all about the top half of the hierarchy. It’s fluff. It’s wants, not needs. My husband always talks about the “useless beauty” there, in reference to Elvis Costello’s 1996 album.  At a time when there is much evidence of the economy floundering, why were so many people at a place that has nothing to do with meeting basic needs?

I suppose I should be happy that the local economy appears to be thriving, but I’m suspicious that people have their heads buried in the sand. Regardless, I’m still on the hunt for a bargain. Bossy, don’t be surprised if you see me pawing through the racks at your local Goodwill store. It shouldn’t be crowded; I think all the girls are probably still in line at Macy’s, waiting for their turn in the fitting room.

Or on second thought – it turns out, there’s actually a dress in my closet that will be perfect club attire. Maybe I should have looked there first.

9 thoughts on “What recession?

  1. HA. I remember making a black satin cocktail dress for you when you were in college. Hadn’t I sworn that I would never make you another dress out of satin after that lilac ruffled number for a high school prom? And then didn’t I go and make champagne satin blouses for the attendants at your wedding, the 15th anniversary of which is just around the corner? Not making you a dress for Vegas. Not gonna do it.

    But speaking of Vegas, wanna place a bet for me? Ten on the Cowboys to win the Superbowl.

  2. I do think some areas are harder hit than others, but I can never imagine the DC suburbs ever lacking for people willing to fork over money. You couldn’t pay me enough money to get me into those Tysons Corner malls, it was always an assault on the senses and an exercise in excess.

    Maybe you could buy a dress in Vegas?

  3. Mom – I shoulda thought of that – you could have made me a frock to wear out there! Next time.

    CBW – of course they are, and I know of people who are directly affected in my area. I was just shocked at how, on the weekend when congress is talking MAJOR FINANCIAL BAILOUT for the NATION, the mall was so packed I could barely find parking. I’m with you on the assault to the senses – I have a very low saturation point.

    But… buy a dress in Vegas? I’m afraid I won’t be able to get the husband to venture through any of the shopping venues. If I strongly dislike the mall, he thoroughly despises it. He only shops under duress.

    Suz – eh, I think I’ll wear one I already have. Nothing’s cheaper than $0! Although my dress does have 3/4 sleeves and it’s supposed to be HOT all week… I will be counting on major air conditioning at all points. Now I gotta figure out SHOES.

  4. Hey girl…Come shop in my closet full of little black dresses from my previous life!!! Dead serious…you are MORE THAN WELCOME. Check out the one in my facebook page – life with Laura. Doesn’t fit my 40 year old frame (39, actually) right now. And it has BAGGAGE.


    And yes, I believe this area, particularly in the ‘burbs of MoCo is IN DENIAL. Surely WE, the priveleged upper middle class, CANNOT be affected by the rest of the world. Surely our overvalued homes cannot be crashing. Surely our maxed out credit cannot come to an end.

    Bitter? Maybe just a bit.

  5. I know there are people in a bind financially but the few I know bought homes way out of their league with little down and adjustable rates…now their payments are too high. Of course their is the old snowball effect.

    As far as Vegas, unless you have plans for a fancy show I wouldn’t dress up too much. They keep those casinos very cold too, and it’s still very hot outside. Now I’m ready to go back! Good luck!!!!

  6. Laura, you are kind! I’m just going to go with the one I rediscovered in my closet and bank on A/C. I’m too old to be showing too much skin anyway. :-) Yes, I think we are very much in denial, but I feel like it’s creeping ever closer to the rest of us. It sure is a different story for us than it was a few years ago.

    Grandma J – I know people in that bind too… and our Vegas plans do include visits to some clubs whose attire requirements say “upscale club attire,” whatever THAT means. I know it’s not jeans and a fanny pack!

  7. Just came from the Hershey Outlets, and folks there are shopping. There was a nice amount of traffic, considering the park is closed for the season. (Found “boggins”, too. )

  8. A man I know was in the office the other day, chatting with my boss. After he left, my boss came out with wide eyes, and said, “He just cried, right there in my office.” Three years ago this guy owned two rental houses and sold them when the market was strong. Now he’s scared.

    Juxtaposed against packed malls, this particular scene couldn’t have been more surreal and obscene.

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