Shimmering light dawned on spare, scarcely clothed, faceless, hairless mannequins. Displays of currently cool juniors fashion drew huddles of giggling girls like a ringing cell phone. Enormous picture windows displayed more of the same clothing we had already seen – alarming and inappropriate for a first junior high dance. The Kid joined the wave and so did we. Everything sparkled in watts that could have lit a small city. Car sized posters featured models in scant, fashions “so new, that they had to come back from the future,” (or so the posters read).
The Kid quivered at the spectacle and considered every merchandised square inch including the most effective marketing tool – the beautiful early 20-something salesgirls. Dressed to fit their environment and armed with their best employee manual prescribed smiles, they flitted about gathering up armfuls of “totally rock’n” clothing for the Kid in rhythm to the deafening, pulsing music. The Kid grinned widely as she closed the dressing room door.
Here we go. Oh God, I need chocolate.
It was hard to hold a neutral expression each time the Kid emerged from the dressing room. I pictured her dad tossing a blanket over her, scooping her up and running for the door. The Grandma was still not very good at covering her gasps and some outfits sent her slipping away. The beautiful 20-somethings crooned as they scurried by, “That outfit rocks! You look like a total rock star!”
I was conflicted. On one hand, I was happy that some hookers had become ex-hookers when they found new careers as the juniors fashion designers for every single store in the mall. On the other hand, finding a nice dress for a nearly 13’s first dance was looking grim.
Impatient with my vetoes, the Kid slinked into what must have been her 30th outfit. She would want to quit soon I could tell. The mission became clear. The dance was Friday and I vowed we would not leave this store without an ensemble. Surely there was something here that wasn’t one button pop away from an NC-17 rating. I would not go to one more store. I was finished with the beautiful 20-something filling the Kid’s dressing room with every mother’s nightmare clothing. It was do or die in this clothing war. The Grandma was slumped in a chair near the dressing room almost hidden under a mountain of rejected (and maybe if we have to) clothing. She was fading in and out of a hunger-induced stupor and long since passed her enjoyment of my heaping dose of payback.
Stopping the beautiful 20-something “helping” us I pleaded, “Could you find something a little more modest?” A nearby scurrying beautiful 20-something shot a look at me as if I had slapped her across the face. Then, I spotted it across the store. A pink, perfect for a young lady top was just hanging there looking out of place. A choir of angels sang in my head. Where was it an hour ago? Could this discovery wrap up our marathon here and now? Maybe we would not have to live here in the mall after all. Noticing another mom eyeing this out of place top as well, I made a break for it. I rushed that top like a hockey player. Purses and backpacks fell to the floor in my wake. This top was the key to my parole and now was not the time for hesitation and pleasant feigned embarrassed apologies. Skidding to the rack, I grabbed, stood tall, recomposed and walked away with my prize held up for the Grandma to see.
“You better not like it too much, or she won’t like it at all,” the Grandma said eyeing the price tag. “Looks like you will be serving rice and beans for a couple weeks.” “It will be worth every dime, “I said.
With maximum sincerity, I looked into the eyes of our beautiful 20-something sales girl and stated, “You really love this top, and I know you do.” “Please tell the Kid, in your own words of course, that this is the greatest top in store.” I winked and waited. I got through; she grabbed a velvet skirt to go with the top and bounced to the dressing room. I heard her exclaim to the Kid that this outfit “totally rocked” like no other in the store.
Hesitantly the Kid emerged from the dressing room. Too much enthusiasm on my part could blow the whole deal. I beheld her wearing a top and skirt that made a lovely nearly 13 look just that.
Cautiously she approached the mirror with an expression that revealed no commitment. We were stuck in a pause as never ending as the hideous pounding music. She turned this way and that, studying a mirror filled with her. Suddenly, she turned to us and grinned. We were much poorer now but finally free.
As we left the store, I told the Grandma what we just experienced was my payback. She stopped and looked hard at me, “yes, this was payback, but you got it wrong. I wasn’t supposed to be here!” Just then the Kid said, “I need shoes.”
Yield approximately 24
8 Oz bittersweet chocolate
¾ Cup heavy cream
1/3 Cup light corn syrup
2 Tablespoons strawberries, puréed
1/8 Teaspoon strawberry extract
8 Oz milk chocolate
1. Place chocolate in a metal mixing bowl
2. Mash strawberries until smooth
3. Whisk together the cream, strawberry puree, extract, and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring to a boil
4. Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate in the metal bowl, whisk until it is smooth.
5. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes while occasionally stirring
6. Cover and put in refrigerator for approximately 2 hours, or until mixture is firm enough to form
7. Cover hands with a dusting of cocoa powder and scoop mixture in a tablespoon and roll into balls
8. Place on a parchment or waxed paper covered cookie sheet and refrigerate for a few minutes while melting your milk chocolate for dipping
9. Place milk chocolate in a double boiler and melt slowly, stir occasionally
10. Dip truffle balls in melted chocolate and place on a parchment covered cookie sheet
11. Place in pretty cups, refrigerate, take out of refrigerator 30-40 minutes before serving
Until Next Time,