Lands End


A christmas tree.

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It is 8:45 on a Saturday night. I rush into the grocery store when I see her—a tall, lean, beautiful blond.

This is my second trip to the store for the day. I forgot a few necessities such as cereal and milk for tomorrow morning and a jug of my favorite red wine for a nightcap. I round the corner and nearly flatten her with my cart. She is standing in the middle of the wine/gift and card section. We give each other “the eye” and then a nod and weak smile. Not the big toothy kind reserved for your long-lost BFF but one with a slight upturn at the corners of the mouth. The kind that says, “Hello stranger. I come in peace.”

She is a tall, willowy, middle-aged blond (cue the harp music and wind machine).The first thing I notice is that she is severely under-dressed for the weather. She is wearing a fashionable lime green puffy vest with a complimentary lime green sweater and skinny jeans—or they might have been the new, trendy jeggings. Whatever they were, they were the tight, show off a killer figure kind of jeans. While I stand there in my ¾ length Lands End coat with the detachable hood and rated to -15 degrees, I think she looks cold. I am warm and self-assured in my stretch mom jeans, green coat accented with a festive red scarf and my gray hair tucked under my charcoal gray corduroy news-boy cap with a green felt wreath jauntily pinned to the side.

She takes a step toward the card display and that is when I see a flash of red. Wait! Did I really see what I think I saw? Toe-nail polish! Yes, she has naked toes! Did I mention it is COLD outside? Like about 15 degrees cold. She is wearing flip-flops (as contrasted to my toes encased in wool sox and fur-lined boots). What is she thinking? Not only is it cold but we have a coating of about 4 inches of snow on the ground. Even if she is so hot she thinks she is immune to the cold, she is risking frost bite just crossing the slushy parking lot.

I don’t understand women who are a slave to fashion. Before you judge me for being old-fashioned and out of step with fashion, let me fill in a part of my resume. (OK, I confess about the mom jeans but they are comfortable and topped with a sweater or sweatshirt no one knows the difference.) I used to own a shop and took frequent buying trips to Chicago to the Merchandise Mart. I believe in looking nice at all times but also being dressed appropriately for the occasion and the season. You don’t wear swimwear in the snow nor snowsuits at the beach. I had a business partner during my boutique days and she was such a slave to fashion that my father once said that if it became the fashion to wear sh-t on your head, she would be the first one to try it.

What was this beautiful but under-dressed woman doing at the grocery store at 8:45 on a Saturday night? I hate to bring up dumb blond jokes but she couldn’t be the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree.  Why was she wearing flip-flops in the snow? I don’t have the answers to these questions but I hope she was not headed to the annual Wildlights at the Zoo exhibit. She might have a few less toes in the morning. As for me, I settled in by the fireplace wrapped in a big, fluffy blanket with my toes covered and my glass of red wine to warm my soul. I wouldn’t trade places with her for any amount of money.