A few friends and I drove up to Denver on Saturday because that's where Colorado keeps its nice malls. (You're probably wondering whether you can trust the system I use to decide whether or not an establishment is nice, and I'm glad you asked. Like any red-blooded American, I use a standard one to ten rating system based on the likelihood of my being stabbed while standing somewhere - one being the top of Mount Everest* and ten being a Shakespearean tragedy. The mean rating for the malls in the Springs is a shaky seven, and I'm really gonna need my medical benefits plan to roll over before I can afford that many stitches. [Insert hilarious joke about price gouging here.])
We went to Forever21 first because the five of us have a shared passion for polyester and spandex. Gary and I are on a tight budget, so I had a $20 spending limit for the day. I actually planned not to spend any money at all unless I saw something I absolutely couldn't live without -- and wouldn't you know it, that very day I was self-diagnosed with a severe motorcycle jacket deficiency. WHAT are the ODDS?!
But I mean can you blame me? LOOK AT IIIIIT.
It was the only one left and it was my size. Clearly, this jacket and I were MFEO.
My heart sunk as I flipped the price tag over. It was fifteen dollars above my spending limit. I texted Gary and asked if it would be okay if I broke the limit just this one time, but after a few minutes with no response my conscience got the better of me and I decided to put it back. After our tearful goodbye, a small voice in the back of my head kept saying, "You should be proud of yourself! You're being responsible! You're a real adult!" but it was quickly drowned out by a much louder voice that screamed, "NOBODY ASKED YOU, PATRICE!"
A few minutes later, I was in the jewelry section trying to distract myself with something shiny when I got a text back from Gary saying to go ahead and get it because he is the best and most generous husband of them all! My face lit up and I ran to the back of the store where I'd left it - but heartbreak of heartbreaks, it was gone. My sweet, buttery fake-leather baby had been snatched up by someone else. Sarah suggested that someone was probably just trying it on and maybe if we came back later it would be back, but I knew better. No one could possibly have put it on without falling in love with it. It would live in my memory forever as the one that got away.
I wandered listlessly around the mall for the next couple of hours, dragging my feet and mourning my loss. Just before we were supposed to meet back up with the other girls to leave, Sarah suggested that we go back and check one last time. I knew she was just humoring me, but I played along. I walked to the back of the store, knowing the bitterest disappointment would be all I'd find there.
If only I'd waited five more minutes to put it back! It'd still be with me! It was as if I could still see it hanging there; a cruel mirage. The subtle detailing, the elegant ruffle of the collar, the $35 price tag...mocking me, just out of reach...but then suddenly, I felt my hand close around something very real; something soft and smooth and perfect and...IT WAS BACK! I didn't even remember crossing the room; all I knew was that we had been reunited at last!
I was so ecstatic, I didn't even mind standing in the longest line any human being has ever encountered. What did I care for wasted minutes when there was such joy to be had? As I approached the counter some minutes later - or was it hours? I really couldn't say; time loses all meaning when we're together - I was thinking to myself that this day could not possibly get any better - that is, until I heard the girl behind the counter utter these impossibly beautiful words: That'll be nine-oh-seven.
Then I blacked out from happiness.
*Think about it. How many people do you know who've been stabbed at the top of Mount Everest?