Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tween a Bear and a Brand Name

Imagine my delight when, after a week in Chicago with her father this past summer, my ten-year-old daughter returned with two brand-new (and pretty darn cool) zipper-front sweatshirts from her aunt. My "tween" was growing rapidly and last year's favorite sweatshirts had been heaped in my resale bag for months. Lovely, I said to myself. One less thing for me to buy this fall. Money saved. And she really likes them too, especially the velvety hooded pink one. I sighed and leaned back in the lawn chair in my mind (at my residence on Easy Street) and said a silent thanks to Aunt Ruby.

Ah, but naivete is my middle name.... Barely a month into her fifth-grade year, a certain word -- a word with the sound and syllables and power of the name of an ancient king -- had insinuated its way into my daughter's vocabulary. The word was Abercrombie, and it was coming out of my daughter's mouth at least ten times a day, along with detailed descriptions not only of various classmates' Abercrombie sweatshirts but also of the very shopping trip to the mall when The Abercrombie Sweatshirt (let's call it TAS for brevity) was bought by a particular classmate's wonderful, generous mother.

It went for weeks like this -- the stories, the TAS sightings, the sacred word coming from her mouth from the time I dropped her off at school until I tucked her in at night. Pitching like a smarmy salesman, I played up the "coolness" of her two new sweatshirts. When that didn't work, I went after her tendency to feel sorry for inanimate objects: "But what about your poor new gray and pink sweatshirts?...." I thought I could do it. I thought I could slide past this one. But then the clincher, the thing that was too much for her to bear: her best friend got one.

"Alright," I finally said, "we'll look at them online. But that doesn't mean I'm buying you one...."

The Abercrombie Sweatshirt arrived in about a week, and I must say, even though I paid $40 for it, I really do like it. It's attractive and colorful and well-made, and it has one heck of a sturdy zipper, not a feature to be sneezed at. And the best part -- wearing it, my daughter actually wanted to go to school for a few mornings.

The new sweatshirts from Aunt Ruby weren't for naught. Of course, since The Abercrombie Sweatshirt, like some precious sheltered queen, must never become soiled, must never touch earth, my daughter needs another one to switch into when she's home from school and just wants to be a regular kid. "I'm going out to play," she's been saying lately, draping TAS over the chair, slipping into her ordinary gray sweatshirt and dashing out the door, her new stuffed bear, in its own little sweatshirt, under an arm.

written Fall 2005

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