I love back-to-school shopping.
I have always loved back-to-school shopping.
All those aisles filled with the heady smells of pens and pencils and Crayolas and rulers and scissors and Pee Chees and glue and erasers and paints and . . .
. . . wasn't I surprised in the 5th grade when Kathy Hurd told me how much she, too, loved back-to-school shopping. O frabjous day! A soul mate!
Except . . . turns out that Kathy Hurd was talking about clothes shopping. Really? Clothes shopping??
I was stunned. It had never occurred to me to associate the joys of school shopping with shopping for clothes. Never mind that I attended Catholic school, where every new school year meant little more than replacing last year's plaid wool jumper and getting a fresh set of white blouses with the requisite Peter Pan collars. And that the fact of my orthopedic footwear didn't even allow for one single pair of saddle oxfords. Even if I had revolved in the same orbit as my public-school friends, new dresses and sweaters and anklets would hardly have been the thing to excite me into Hinshaw's Department Store in August or September or any month for that matter.
But what was even more shocking to me than the revelation that back-to-school shopping meant clothes shopping, was the obvious fact that my perception was so far out of whack. So I asked around, asked everyone I could think of. Did my 10-year-old's version of scientific research: What does back-to-school shopping mean to you? If I was off base, I wanted to know just how far off base I was.
And what I learned was that I was so far afield that I wasn't even in the ballpark. I wasn't even in a city with a ballpark. I wasn't even in a state in a country with a ballpark. Think slapped knees and raucous guffaws and lips curled in that classic, spirit-crushing "you're so weird" response. Apparently I was a 64-Crayola kid in an 8-Crayola world.
It took me a long time, but I finally found what one friend calls "my tribe." You know who you are, My Friends, my soul mates out there who understand the pleasures of a pencil's heft. Who can lose an afternoon to a stapler catalog. Who never met a ruler they didn't love. Who teem with opinions about gel pens and liquid ink. Who know to this day the smell that Crayolas leave on their hands.
Now I'm off to the office store. Folders are on sale for a penny each!
FOR EXTRA CREDIT: Read this blog entry about the Hinshaw's Arcadia Store
(goes without saying that "my" Whittier store was better!)
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