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Fashion scares me

Saturday I spent an exhausting mid-morning at the mall with my good friend Rita.  When I was a child, I used to think shopping was really cool, and that the image of being someone who shops was even cooler.  This was around the time I was worshipping the Spice Girls and thought that gay people were “gross.”  Ahem.  As I’ve come into myself, I’ve ditched a lot of the traditionally “girly” things I did just because you were supposed to, and the mall is one of those things.  I can’t stand malls.  They suck you in, they seem to be populated entirely by rude thirteen-year-olds, they’re impossible to get to using public transportation, and the smell of perfume irritates my sinuses.

That’s not to say I don’t like shopping entirely.  I love shopping for kitchen supplies at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  I love grocery shopping.  I like shopping online from the comfort of my bed, and yes, I admit, I love Target.  I joke that I can’t walk out of that store without spending less than $100, but it’s actually true.  I have never walked out of Target with less than $100 worth of merchandise.  It’s an affliction.  Fortunately, I don’t go frequently, but when I do it’s always a bit overboard.  Last year, I spent several thousand hard-earned dollars on furniture (about 40% of it shipping charges) from Target online.  My dresser, nightstand, desk, end table, desk chair, hutch, and bookcase are all from Target, which means I put them all together myself in two painful, frustrating weeks.  My desk is beautiful, but both screws on one leg came out with the inside part as well, stripped clean off the wood, and had to be glued back in with apoxy.  I’m still a little frightened to get an iMac because I don’t want something worth more than a thousand dollars sitting on that thing.  

Anyway, I digress.  The point is, when I want a lot of random things I go to Target.  I’d been meaning to take the bus out there forever, and I had plans to go after the Farmer’s Market Saturday, when Rita suggested we go together – in her car.  Clearly, a much better proposition.  The initial plan was to purchase comfortable shoes, along with a few other items.  I’ve been having a bit of a shoe quandry, because I own maybe twelve pairs and none of them are quite comfy enough.  Since I do a lot of my moving around the city on foot, a very slight discomfort can be a big pain.  What I really wanted was some plain, comfy, closed toed, closed heeled black loafers.  These apparently don’t exist.  I tried on about nine pairs at Target and gave up.  This meant that (after I spent $109 on other random crap, including six pairs of those new Hanes underwear that I really can’t praise enough, by the way) we had to venture into the mall.  Crap.

I did end up getting two pairs of shoes.  One is a pair of black loafers that aren’t perfect, but might be with the right socks.  The other is a pair of black crocs that look like Mary Janes but are super, super comfy.  I sort of hate crocs, but these aren’t brightly coloured and don’t have huge holes in them, so they’ll do.  The problem was that Rita wanted business clothes.  Specifically, she wanted dress-shirts.  Button-down dress shirts.  Shockingly enough, they no longer exist.  Okay, I exaggerate, but it took three hours roaming around the mall and we probably saw about ten button-ups total.  We looked at the men’s section, but nothing was small enough to be convincing.  We did, however, find more than our share of Disturbing Fashion Trends for this season.  Here are a few you should watch out for:

#1: The Shacket.  I don’t know what the designers were thinking when they came up with this, exactly.  It’s a shirt that looks, for all intents and purposes, like a business jacket.  A really tacky business jacket.  The fabric is thinner than a jacket, but it’s not at all soft.  

#2: The My Breasts Are Happy to See You Shirt.  This comes in two forms.  One is a shirt that looks deceptively conservative, even nice, until you hold it up off the rack and discover that it is translucent.  The other is a drapey thing, made of thin fabric, with a “V neck” that ends just above the belly button.  

#3: Picnic Blanket Wardrobe.  Sometimes shirts, or sometimes coordinates, this fabric is opaque at least, but it doesn’t help much.  The pattern is either plaid or checked, and you have your choice of yellow, bright green, or the ever popular orange-and-pink combination.  

#4: So-Short-They’re-Not-Even-There Shorts.  I know this isn’t a new phenomenon, but it really just hurts me.  That can’t be comfortable in the derrière.  

#5: Gone Fishin’.  This is a trend in both men’s and women’s apparel.  From your navy blue woman’s shirt with what looks like a shoelace hanging from the neckline to the horrible short sleeved double-pocket men’s button-down shirt, this style compliments #3 quite nicely.  Or, you know… not.

Trend-setter for fifteen seconds

Every now and again, it’s bound to happen.  If you keep living your life more or the less the same way, the way you dress/what you eat/who you have sex with is bound to become trendy for a few minutes or so.  At various times in my life, my style of glasses, the men’s dress shirts I wear, and my haircut have been cool.  Wearing dark colours was actually cool for quite a while there.  Being a vegetarian?  That was cool at some point, I think.  Anyway, today I just realised that the tea I’ve been drinking for a year or two is suddenly trendy for the summer.

Sometimes, when I’m bored, I watch Danish talk shows on YouTube to keep up my Danish skills (which are severely lacking, really).  In one episode, a talk show host was interviewing Viggo Mortensen, an actor I happen to be a fan of (check out his performance in Eastern Promises if you haven’t yet; it’s stellar).  Mortensen spent some time in Venezuela and Argentina as a kid, and he apparently drinks a tea called maté, to which he introduced the host.  “Does it need sugar?” he host asked.  “No, no.”  Host takes a sip.  Nearly spits it out.  Mortensen adds sugar.  

I was intrigued by this clip, because I’m a huge fan of strong tea.  I got some yerba maté, as well as a blend called “rainforest” maté, from the online tea company I was using at the time, and I really liked it.  I was also thrilled to find that Red Poppy, the hookah bar slash tearoom in Iowa City, has a fantastic maté.  Searching around online, I found that the tea contains antioxidants that give an energy boost, much like caffeine.  Excellent!

Well, today I was riding my bike across the river for my Turkish exam, and because I’m lazy and didn’t want to ride up the hill to the building where the exam was, I “parked” at the student union.  And because the weather was nice and this was my last exam, I decided to celebrate with an icy beverage.  So, lo and behold, they have turned my nice hippie antioxidant tea into a latté.  Leave it to JavaHouse to latté-ize almost anything.  It’s good – basically a chai latté with maté instead of chai – and it costs $4.05 plus tax.  Ha!  Ha ha ha ha.  And of course, they have big posters advertising how it’s like caffeine but not, and organic and good for you and trendy. 

Oh, boy.