Freaky fratty! How a preppy pirate tricked me into bank rolling her very SperryHalloween
I know 'tis the season and all, but I was nonetheless surprised when I realized that I had been tricked into agreeing to treat my daughter to an expensive new shirt. I’m still not sure if it was a short con or a long con. To unravel the plot, a bit of background is in order.
I have never been a slave to fashion. If anything, it’s the other way around. When it comes to fashion, I have a long, shameful history of torture and abuse. It’s not that I don’t care about how I look. It's just that my focus is typically limited to exercising, taking daily showers and dedicating a modest amount of time and attention to my hair and makeup. When it comes to clothes, my interest fizzles out. I’ve never had a knack for putting outfits together and I don’t keep abreast of trends. And frankly, when it comes to accessories, I’d probably have better luck figuring out the criminal kind than the fashion kind.
So, it came as surprise to me when not one but both of my kids developed a thing for clothes. When Aaron went to college in upstate New York his affection for the "East Coast look" developed into what I considered to be an unhealthy obsession. Those were impressionable years for Hannah, and by the time I realized she had been drawn into this couture cult, it was too late. Together, they worshiped at the twin altars of Vineyard Vines and Lilly Pulitzer.
Aaron took to spending his hard-earned money on designer duds. Hannah was too young to have a purse to control the strings of, so she began asking me if she could go to various websites and fill her online shopping cart with her dream wardrobe just for sport. When a weekend trip to Dallas with the two of them last summer included not one, not two, but THREE separate trips to St. Bernard Sports, I knew an intervention of some sort was in order. At twenty-six years old, it was too late for me to save Aaron. But Hannah was only ten. There was still a chance I could reach her.
I started taking her to Target more often. I gave her permission to wander the clothing section by herself while I was off shopping for other things. I hoped this new independence would foster a positive opinion of Target’s clothing section. I wanted her to have an eye for the style she liked rather than being attached to the label. And generally, I felt like I was getting through to her. She didn’t like everything at Target, but she found some cute things there from time to time.
Just as I was patting myself on the back for saving her from being sentenced for life to a WASP-y wardrobe—definitely a white collar crime—I got kicked in the gut by the following question:
“Mom, can I get a feather in my hair?”
“A feather? In your hair?” I had never heard of such a thing.
“Yeah, my friend Ashley has one and it looks really, really cool,” she explained. “You can get one at Visible Changes in the mall for about $10. That includes the cost of attaching it and everything.”
“Attaching it? You mean you can’t take it out?” I said, my alarm reflected by the shrill tone of my voice.
If there’s one thing I’m not fond of, it’s alternative looks on my children. I mean, sure, both of them had been delivered by midwives rather than doctors. And yes, they both went to Montessori school. And true, I’m a tofu-loving vegetarian. But feathers? In my daughter’s hair? That was way too far out for me.
Suddenly, her obsession with East Coast couture didn’t seem half bad. I had always worried about her getting too fancy, but I now realized that if I had to choose, fancy was better than freaky. I thought about stuffing her in the car and driving her directly to the Lilly Pulitzer in the Domain in an effort to rekindle the flame. I’d much rather be rolling my eyes at a $75 pair of flip flops than arguing with her about a style that would make her look like the love child of a fly fisherman and a carnie.
“I don’t know, Hannah.”
“I’ll show you the next time we see Ashley. It’s small—you can barely tell it’s there,” she reassured me.
Before I had time to tease out my feelings on the matter, combing out my reasonable objections (it was semi-permanent) from my irrational fears (it would lead to her asking to get her tongue pierced at Claire’s Boutique for her eleventh birthday), one of Hannah’s friends called to invite her to go along with her to get feathers in their hair the following day. As you can imagine, Hannah really, really REALLY wanted to go.
I needed some sound advice from close friends I could really trust. So, I turned to my 400 BFFs on Facebook. I posted my opinion that if we were supposed to have feathers on our heads we wouldn’t have to go to Visible Changes and pay $10 to have them attached. One of my “friends” shot back that if we were supposed keep our original hair color past forty we wouldn’t have to go to a salon to get our hair colored. (She’s been defriended.)
In the end I decided to let Hannah go with her friend. I reasoned that we were leaving for Playa del Carmen the next week, and if I was comfortable with her getting her hair braided at the beach, getting a feather wasn’t a whole lot different. Plus, school would be starting in a couple of weeks anyway, which meant the feather would have to come out soon enough due to the dress code.
So, that’s the background. Now, to the story of how I got conned. It happened a couple of weeks ago when Hannah told me she knew what she wanted to be for Halloween.
“Oh yeah?” I asked.
“You know how I was a pirate last year, right?”
“Cutest pirate ever!” I said.
“Well, this year I think I want to be a preppy pirate.”
“A preppy pirate? What does that look like?” I asked.
“I’d wear my dark, skinny jeans and a scarf on my head like last year, and carry the same fake sword. But to make it look preppy I’d need, like, a shirt from Vineyard Vines or a Lilly Pulitzer,” she explained. “I know they’re expensive, but I could wear it after Halloween, too,” she offered.
“Awesome idea!” I found myself gushing.
“Can I go to the website and pick something out?” she asked.
“Absolutely!” I said.
And as flighty as a feather in the breeze, I shifted from fighting her fondness for fratastic fashion, to agreeing to finance it—at least this once. So, was it a carefully crafted coup or a crime of opportunity? Beats me. But either way, I was never happier to be asked to buy an overpriced shirt. Because if birds of a feather flock together, I want Hannah in Original Penguin.