Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chinese Water Torture, Waterboarding, and Fabric Stores

Every once in a while I am inspired to write about certain things.  It doesn't happen too often now, since I am more concerned with work and hanging out with my girls after I get home from work.  But today I saw a post on Facebook that reminded me of one of the darkest memories of my childhood:

The fabric store.

If you were the child of a seamstress, you know EXACTLY what I am talking about.  If you weren't, and think I am at all exaggerating about what I write in this post, then you obviously had a very easy going childhood, and a trip out with your Mom was filled with wonderful treats from the grocery store, new clothes from the mall, and maybe even a Happy Meal from McDonald's.

Before I start though, I must write a disclaimer.  While I had to suffer through going to the pit despair (a.k.a. Hancock's Fabrics.) it did in the end net me some great handmade clothes.  I had pairs of shorts that other kids could only dream of having, and while the shirts I had weren't "store bought", they were still pretty cool.  BUT...with that said, I remember a lot more torture trips out with my Mother than I do of kids asking about where I got my clothes.

It would usually start out with one simple question from my Mom, asking if I would like to go out shopping with her.  If she didn't ask, I would usually ask if I could go.  Keep in mind that before a lot of these trips the words "fabric", "patterns", and "buttons" were never really specifically mentioned, as they would have automatically been reason to stay at home and clean toilets.

The trip out with my Mom always had the potential to be fun.  Being the oldest of 5 kids, it was a great time to have some alone time with her.  A lot of the times we would get some lunch, and if I was lucky she would spring for a drink to go along with my burger.  It was a great time to get out of the house and explore my world.

That is, unless the words "fabric store" would escape my Mother's lips at some point.

It would always start out innocent enough.  We would be inside of Sears getting some shrink to fit Levi's for my younger brothers when my Mom would comment, "You know, I just remembered.  Hancock's has buttons on sale today.  After we are done here I need to make a quick stop in and pick some up for the dress I am making for Courtney."  I knew right then and there that my Saturday afternoon was about to get dark, and fast.

"Mom, how about you take me home first?  You will be in Hancock's for at least an hour if not two." I would plead.  "Anyways, you bought buttons last week.  Why do you need more?"  This would be followed with an answer that I believe was pre programmed into my Mom's head.  One of those things you wish were going to change, but you knew deep down it never would.  "Donald, it won't take that long!  And you KNEW I was going to the fabric store before we left the house.  You should have stayed home if you didn't really want to come."

She was right about one thing.  Yes, I knew deep down that just about every trip out would some way or another end up at a fabric store.  I was smart enough to know that  even if she didn't exactly say it, it was going to be inevitable.  But when she wouldn't mention it when I would ask what she was going out to do, I would secretly wish that this one time it wouldn't be the case.

And that would be that.  I was locked into a trip to Hancock's.  There would be no diverting her away from her mecca.

When we would pull into the shopping center that housed the fabric store, my Mom would start glowing.  The call of patterns, fabric, and good scissors (Ones that hadn't been used to cut paper like hers had been used for by us kids.) was too much for her to handle.  She would turn off the van, look in my direction, and say in a light awestruck voice, "OK, I will be about 10 minutes.  Sit out here and listen to the radio okay?"  I had no other choice than to say yes.

The first 45 minutes of my wait wasn't all that bad.  I would get out of the van and sit in the drivers seat.  At 12 years old, sitting in the drivers seat of a minivan WITH the keys in the ignition was a very powerful position to be in.  My favorite thing to do would be to turn the van on and off.  I would usually wait until someone was getting in or out of their own car to turn it on, so I could look like I was about to drive off into the distance.  All 4'8" and 72 lbs. of me.  Looking back I don't think I was fooling anyone.

This was also my time to pick what station I was going to listen to.  My favorite station in the Tri-Cites back then was 102.7 Hawk FM.  OK95 played a little more hard rock, and that wasn't really my thing yet so I would usually steer clear of it.  Then there was 98.3 the Key.  Back in the day the Key was a slightly more hardcore version of KONA 105.3.  They would only play Kenny G or Michael Bolton once or twice an hour.  In other words, my options for radio listening were quite limited.

It was around that time when I would go into the fabric store to see what part of the process my Mom was at.  Now for those of you who aren't familiar with the fabric store procedure it goes something like this:

1 - Walk into store, pick out some pattern books, and sit down to peruse them.

2 - After going through the pattern books you picked out, go back to the display and pick out two more books to look over.

3 - Having decided what patterns you intend to buy, find what cabinet they are filed in.  At this time it is acceptable to talk to the other ladies grabbing their patterns, and discuss what you intend to make, and for what child it will be for. 

4 - Decide what type of fabric you plan on buying.  If more than one pattern had been selected, it is a good idea to have a shopping cart.  Those bolts of fabric are heavy.

5 - With fabric and patterns in the cart, head over to the cutting table.  Chances are you will have to take a number, as there are a lot of other women who also have fabric that needs to be measured and cut.  This is also an ideal time to have conversations concerning all things sewing related. 

6 - With cut fabric in hand, you head to the checkout counter.  But before you get there, you get sidetracked by the buttons, elastics, and other miscellaneous sewing supplies that will (At some point.) be needed.

7 - With every square inch of the fabric store explored, pay for everything at checkout.

After 45 minutes, my Mom would be between steps 1 and 2.  I would walk in to the store, and locate her at the pattern cabinets.  "Mom, are you about done?  I am getting bored outside.  I just heard "Love Shack" for the second time since you have been in here."  This would naturally be followed by her saying, "Sheesh, I just got here.  Don't worry, I am almost done.  I just need another 10-20 minutes.  If you are bored in the car, you can hang out in here with me."

Needing a break from the van, I do two quick laps through the fabric store.  Mainly I do this to prove to the women inside that it is indeed possible to see the whole store in less than 5 minutes.  Apparently no one is paying attention to the 12 year old kid who is trying to prove a point.  So back out to the car I go.

Another 45 minutes pass.  The radio stations are all at commercial, so I move onto my next favorite thing to do in the car.  I search for new radio stations.  After browsing every inch of the FM dial I confirm what I already know...that there are no new stations in the Tri-Cities.  Since it is now 90 minutes since my Mom entered the store, I need to go check on her.

She is at step 5.  Thank goodness she is at step 5!!!  I check the ticket in her hand against the number now being served.  She is only two away!  All of a sudden my spirits have been lifted.  I could be out of here in the next 20 minutes if I a lucky.

I am not lucky.

I try another tactic.  This time I stay in the store with my Mom.  I wait for her turn to get her fabric cut.  As soon as her number is announced and she heads over I start it up:  The world famous 12 year old boy whine.

"Mommm...pleeeease hurry!!!  You have been in here for hoooours!!! (Insert high pitched, cracking El Donaldo voice here.)  Can we please go HOME???"

This lasts about 30-45 seconds before she has heard enough.  It is her turn to turn the heat up on me.

"DONALD!  You wanted to come with me, so now you have to put up with me being here!  If you are going to cry, go BACK OUT TO THE CAR!!"

With head hung low, I start the walk out to the minivan.  The thought of more radio listening is no longer appealing.  But driving the van is.

I get into the drivers seat, adjust the mirrors, and get ready to do some driving.  Yes...DRIVING!  I start the van up, and look behind me and back up.  I then pull it into the parking spot next to the one that we had occupied for the last 2 hours.  That will show her!  I might be 12, but I can move the car!!  But after 5 minutes I start to panic.  If my Mom knew I moved the minivan, I might never get to go out on the town with her again.  So I turn the car back on and move to back it out. 

And then it happens.

I accidentally go forward instead of back, and bump into the shopping cart holder in front of me.  I immediately put the van into park, and go assess the damage.  My worst fear has been confirmed.  I have cracked the front turn signal of the van, and there are pieces of plastic laying on the cement.  Obviously this is all my Mom's fault.  If she wasn't in the fabric store for so long I wouldn't have had to move the van to begin with!! 

Knowing that even though I am right and she will be wrong, it will never fly that this is all her fault.  So instead I pick up the broken pieces, put them in a baggy I find in the car, and decide to save them for a later time when I can drop them on the ground and claim someone hit our car.

It has been just about 2 1/2 hours since my dear ol' Mom headed into the fabric store.  I am thirsty, hungry, and am convinced that I am about to die inside of the van.  I look to my right and see The Burger King I would one day work at.  How can I be so close to food, yet so far away?  Just when I have given up all hope of seeing my friends again, the sliding door on the van opens up.  It is my Mom with her fabric and patterns.  She seems to have forgotten the buttons, but I will not point this out.  If I did, I surely would die right there in the parking lot.

With the situation finally behind me, I breathe easy.  The horror is over for now.  My Mom turns to me and says without a hint of sarcasm in her voice, "Now, that didn't take very long at all this time did it?"

I don't know how, but time stands still once you cross into a fabric store.  And now that I am in my 30's, I still find myself cringing any time my Mom or Lisa mentions having to pick something up at one.


NaDell said...

hahaha. Aww, good ole' Hancocks. =)

Jill S. said...

I may have done this to my kids a time or two...but in this day and age you can't leave your kids in the car anymore..poo

SuzanSayz said...

Oh tee hee Donald, tee hee hee. I know it felt like forever but I don't think it was ever 2 plus hours. And sometimes we would also do a quick visit to the Hostess store too :)

Mike Brinkerhoff said...

It was probably THREE PLUS HOURS!!! BOOOOOM!!!!

Mike Brinkerhoff said...

Wait. What about the broken turn signal cover?? Did you pull off the sham??

The Choffy King said...

LOL...Yes, I held onto those pieces for a couple weeks. I don't remember where I staged them at, but I know I did somewhere.

Angel Brockbank said...

That was great. Very cute Don.

Andi Sherwood said...

I love that she calls you "Donald" the whole time. :) Did she ever find out about the broken turn signal? Thanks for the good chuckle. :)

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