Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2061696-Shopping-in-Jersey-with-Carol-2004
Printer Friendly Page Tell A Friend
No ratings.
Rated: 18+ · Non-fiction · Biographical · #2061696
This might be about the time our other friends started calling us Lucy and Ethel.
Thursday, April 8th 2004
7:52 AM
By Barbara E. Taylor

This story is 100 percent true.

Last Saturday Carol and I met at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey. This is one of the top ten malls in the country with over a million square feet of shopping under one roof and miles and miles of parking lots and not one but two parking garages. So when we made the arrangements we agreed to meet at 1PM at a store called Coldwater Creek in the mall so I could shop and we could have a late lunch.

I got there first, almost unheard of for me, and was happily flipping through the racks in search of clothes to wear to the office when Carol strolled in. We air-kissed, hugged and exchanged parking stories. You have to understand that parking at a shopping mall in Jersey on a Saturday is an art form. People are coming and going at an incredible rate and at high speed. They are impatient, irritable, will not cut you any slack and have been known to fire bazookas to scare you away from a potential open parking spot. It's a tough game and not for the faint of heart. Carol and I have each done it for years. I had parked in one of the garages close to the mall entrance near Coldwater Creek. It had been a nightmare to get a space in the garage close to the entrance but I knew I'd be leaving with bags and I paid the price in time and effort to park in the garage on a Saturday. So when I say to her, "Where did you park?" and she says, "I got a good spot but it took twenty minutes," I nod my head in agreement. We can both fill in the blanks for each other and enough said.

Now, you have to understand that we had met for lunch the previous week also and had stopped at Short Hills Mall, another top ten US mall - Jersey is loaded with them in case you hadn't worked that out - to find a Radio Shack to buy a piece of electronic gear. There was no Radio Shack IN that mall, but there was a Talbot's. Carol shopped up a storm and I helped her, having no pity in my heart for a retail customer. Been in that business way too long to counsel someone NOT to spend. On the contrary. When a friend shows up to help with shopping, most salespeople consider it the kiss of death. Not with me. When they see me they actually sigh with anticipation and rub their hands at how much money I will help my friend spend. But I digress. My point is that we had gone shopping at Carol's favorite store the week before and now we were in mine.

Carol had already told me she was along for the lunch I had promised having had so much good fortune the previous week. Good fortune, bad fortune. Although she tried to sit comfortably in a chair while I waved dresses, jackets, blouses and so on for her inspection, eventually it became too much for her and she started to shop for herself. At first it was for amusement I think, but it quickly escalated into a full fleged spree. I, on the other hand, was in complete control of my shopping. Oh, I did make additional forays into the racks after I had taken control of a dressing room. It's not true that I hip-checked the woman who was reaching for the same little black dress I wanted and I absolutely deny that I deliberately hung a skirt on a rack across the store from where it should have hung so it would be there when I was ready for it.

Carol in her dressing room was whimpering that she really shouldn't - but she did. By the time we were finished, I exited my dressing room with my arms full of dresses, blouses, jackets and jerseys. The saleswoman reached for them to offer to put them away. I handed her the one item I wasn't buying and carried the rest to the counter. Then I spotted another thing I wanted. Then Carol spotted another thing she wanted. Finally we checked out for the second time. By this time the store was offering concierge service to help us to the car. When we told them we were going to lunch, they offered to keep the shopping bags - yes, there were multiple large shopping bags - until we came back to claim them. At the moment that seemed like a fabulous idea.

We went and had a very nice lunch at a very nice restaurant in the mall and had the nicest waiter. He was young, cute, well-mannered and very sweet. When the kitchen ran out of the soup I had ordered with my meal, he saw to it that my meal was comped. Unbelievable. No we did not put any moves on him to get that kind of attention. We simply behaved the way we always do in a restaurant. Shut up, Judy. You weren't there.

Anyway, after this lovely lunch I express a desire to go shoe shopping at Nordstrom's. Anyone who has ever been shoe shopping at Nordstrom's knows that this is the shopping equivalent of a rich dessert on top of the full-course meal we had had at Coldwater Creek. So we set out for Nordstrom's at the far end of the mall - with our hands empty. It was too much for us. Just as we would not even have considered carrying the weight of our clothing purchases through the mall, it was equally inconceivable that we should walk through the mall empty-handed. So we bought little things. Carol bought a little jewelry. I bought just a few health and beauty aids from Crabtree & Evelyn and L'Occitane. Very small shopping bags.

At Nordstrom's the dessert was too rich. Before I could really get into the swing of shoe shopping, I saw the most adorable little Ferragamo patent leather pumps. No way was I spending that on one pair of shoes. It took all the joy out of it for me because I really wanted them. I had one of those irrational shopping moments where I couldn't justify the shoes on top of the rest of the splurge of the day. So I'll get the shoes next week. Never fear. See, I'm the one who wouldn't buy the skirt I liked at Talbot's and look what that got me.

Anyway, we're getting really weary now because all that shopping and eating takes it out of you so we turn our little toes toward Coldwater Creek. They remember us, of course. In fact, Carol found one more little thing or two she couldn't live without and actually there was this little red jacket that would go perfectly with a skirt of mine that I decided would be OK to make up for the shoes I hadn't bought....

Eventually, after Carol, in the heat of the moment, briefly considered becoming an employee of Coldwater Creek - for the discount, you see - I did talk her out of that, by the way - we picked up, uh, bench pressed our purchases and headed out.

"Where are you parked," I asked.

"I came in through Neiman-Marcus," she replied.

"Oh. I'm in that general direction. I'll walk with you."

We head to Neiman's, bone-weary and laden with overweight shopping bags. A pit stop is also in order before we hit the road, so we use the one in Neiman's and prepare to go our separate ways.

"Where are you parked," Carol asked me.

"In the garage on this side of the building. I came in the mall entrance, but I actually am closer to my car from here."

"Cool," she said. "I'm in this garage too."

We laughed. What were the odds we would be in the same parking structure at Garden State Plaza on a Saturday? There were square miles of parking lot out there and a second garage. As we head out the door I nod my head in the general direction of my car because I cannot point or gesture. My hands are too full.

"I'm in this row," I said, "Just after it starts to slope up."

"Really," she said. "I think I'm in this row, too."

We trudged on. I paused to relieve my hands and gather strength. Carol started to say goodbye because I had stopped by a dark red car and she thought it was mine.

"No, no," I say, "It's a little farther up. Just after the slope starts."

Carol looks at me. "I'm up there, too."

We continued, after an exchange of looks.

"You don't think it's possible..." she said.

"No way." I said. But the truth quickly became evident. We were still several car lengths away when we spotted our respective vehicles, sedately parked next to each other like two horses at a hitching rail. I swear I heard them snicker as we walked up.

After we were through howling with laughter and estimating the odds on this situation we pondered the cosmic implications as well. I then asked her the question that the friend who parked first gets to ask. "How could you park next to me and not recognize my car?" I demanded to know.

"How can you ask me that when you had to find a space in this garage yourself?" She defended herself.

I nodded in concession.

We opened our trunks, stowed our goods, hugged and air-kissed goodbye. We opened our doors, started our engines and made our way out into the night. Yeah, it was 7PM when we left.

Shut up, Judy.

You can talk if you want to, Carol......
© Copyright 2015 🌷 Carol St.Ann 🌷 (bookmeister at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2061696-Shopping-in-Jersey-with-Carol-2004