School clothes shopping is pretty much the bane of my existence. Each year I try to buy as much as I can online, because shopping with Violet and James in physical stores is kind of like taking a pet snail on a walk. I age at least 10 years and my patience takes a swan dive off a cliff.
Some of my disregard for shopping with them could also be due to the fact that Vi is a little bit headstrong – just like I used to be. If she doesn’t like it, she isn’t wearing it. Period. If she wants it, she’ll beg for it. It’s my payback for all the years of refusing to wear the cutest little Scottie Dog sweater that my mom bought for me it really was cute, I was clearly fashion backwards.
One year, I remember begging and begging my mother for this fancy “fur” coat. Of course it was fake fur, we didn’t have a lot of money and the only real fur I could have worn would have been rabbit since my dad was a hunter. I remember seeing that gray and white “fur” coat in Bergners and flat out swearing to do all the chores everyone was ever assigned to – FOREVER. I had to have it. I pleaded. It was dramatic.
After 20 minutes of me causing a minor scene in the mall, my mom decided to cut her losses and just get me the coat. A coat that wasn’t on sale! That was a big deal. It didn’t matter to me though, I needed it. I didn’t care if I was going to have to clean the rabbit pen for the rest of my life or forever babysit my little sister. I was gonna be stylish.
Before I go any farther, I have to provide you a small detail. It’s not a dirty little secret, but it is embarrassing. I, Kelly Marcus, was boy crazy. Sure, I’ve been accused of this still to this day, but whatever. At the time, it was almost ridiculous. Not almost, it was. I painted the name of this older boy, in bright yellow, on the sides of our out buildings. Bright yellow. TRACEY HOLLOCH FOREVER. Also, we lived by the interstate. So, pretty much everyone heading from Bloomington-Normal to Champaign-Urbana on I-74 was wondering who this Tracey Holloch was because according to those barns, he must have been quite the fella.
I dreamt of the day that Tracey would see me in my coat. I just imagined him getting on the bus and asking to sit by me because I looked so fabulous. I mean, the guy was four years older than me which is a huge difference when you’re little. I think he probably had heard word of my intense crush, because he was always super sweet to me. He would wink at me blushing thinking about it!, and wave when he walked by me on the bus. For the love of all things holy, that was all I needed to fall head over heels.
Finally, the weather changed. Summer disappeared into fall, and fall didn’t stick around near long enough for my liking, but I didn’t care too much. I had a coat that was definitely going to “get me the guy.”
I remember putting that fluffy coat on with glee. Goodness, it was fancy. I think I did some twirls in my mirror before I traipsed off to walk down our long driveway to await the bus. We were the first kids on and the last kids off the bus during the wintertime, and I had to sit and wait for a while for Tracey to get on.
I still remember it like it was yesterday. There I was: piggy tails, fur coat, and a shy smile. Tracey got onto the bus and walked by me, stopped, backed up, and said, “Hey there, rich mama.”
“Wait. What? What did he call me?” I thought to myself. Surely he did not just call me “Mama” or “Rich.” I think my jaw dropped. He looked at me weird, and kept walking. He probably thought he’d paid me a compliment, but I was just crestfallen.
Rich Mama! Holy cow. I was only like 7! I was nowhere near ready to be a mama. Of course, this is just silly of me to have been upset about, but I felt attacked. Also, I wasn’t rich. I grew up lower middle class, or the working class. I did love the fancy coat, but I liked it because I wanted to “get the boy” not to go class climbing.
This was my first heartbreak, and it was connected to this coat. I immediately took it off and put it in my book bag. The rest of the day, I had to borrow a coat because I told my teacher I forgot mine. I also continued to tell my teacher that lie for about two weeks, and my mom wasn’t very happy about that when she found out.
My teacher had become concerned that I didn’t have a winter coat and wrote my mom a note asking her if she could buy one for me. My mom said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Kelly has a fancy winter coat that she just HAD TO HAVE.” Then, mom checked my book bag, and I am currently still grounded.
Mom also refused to buy me another coat, and I had to start wearing my Rich Mama coat which the whole family called it… so nice of them for the rest of the winter. Wearing it felt like wearing disappointment. Talk about a day ruiner straight out of the gate.
I recently told the kids about my Rich Mama coat, in hopes of teaching them the value of not worrying about what other people think. Instead of focusing on the lesson, they chose to laugh hilariously about me painting barns with boys names. Then James said, “You still cooking dinner tonight? Or should we ask the help Rich Mama?” I just turned on my heel and told them to figure it out.