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Anywhere But Claire's

Abandon hope, all ye who enter accessory stores with their seven-year-old daughters.

If poet Dante Alighieri had had a daughter, and if there had been a Claire’s – the little girl accessory retailer – in Florence back then, I am sure the author of the 'Divine Comedy' would have included the store as the tenth and final circle of Hell.

For her seventh birthday, my youngest, Christina, received a $20 gift certificate to Claire’s from one of the guests at her ice cream sundae party. She was delighted. When I could put it off no longer, we headed to the mall and she made a beeline for Claire’s.

The following describes the 45 minutes we spent trying to spend this gift certificate.

Christina: "Oh, Mommy, look at all this cool stuff! Can I get the makeup cell phone, the purse with purple glitter and the sparkling peace necklace?"

Me: "Let’s see, that totals $27 and you have $20 to spend."

Christina: (Disappointed face.) "OK, Mommy, can I get the soft monkey, the cherry lip gloss, and the rainbow headband?"

Me: "Umm, not quite, that totals $26.00. How about the makeup cell phone and the cherry lip gloss? That’s just about $20."

Christina: "How much would I have left?"

Me: "$2.05." (I’d walked right into a trap.)

Christina: "Great. Then I’ll get this eye shadow package too!"

Me: "No, that’s $6."

Christina: (Disappointed face again.) "What about this silver, glittery headband?"

Me: "No, that’s $4."

Christina: "How much is the smiley-face wallet?"

Me: "$6.50."

Christina: "Oh. Well, look, panda erasers, can I get these?"

Me: "Not with the makeup cell phone and the cherry lip gloss, you can’t."

Christina: "Oh."

(Twenty minutes later.)

Christina: "Well, I really don’t want the makeup cell phone anyway.  What about the silver glittery headband, the cherry lip gloss and these lime green gloves?"

Me: "Umm, you’re way over $20."  (I said feeling weary and worn out with a touch of migraine coming on.)

Christina: (Very sad.) "But I really do want the makeup cell phone ..."

Me: "If you really want the makeup cell phone, then I suggest you select that with one other small item."

Christina: "What I really want (she said, spying the racks upon racks of pierced earrings) is to get my ears pierced. Can I please get my ears pierced?"

Me: "No, not today."

Christina: "When then?"

Me: "Not for a while."

Christina: "When is 'a while'?"

Me: "Eventually."

Christina: "But everyone else I know has pierced ears."

Me: "That argument will not sway me."

Christina: "Fine!" (Her frustration also escalating.) "Can I get the soft monkey, the lime green gloves and these earrings for when I eventually do get my ears pierced?"

Me: "No." (I whispered softly, to keep from screaming. Where is my Virgil?!)

Christina: "Why not?"

This went on for a very long time. So long, in fact, that the store began to close in around me and my jaws ached from clenching my teeth. At some point, I began to perspire. She finally selected three pieces of sparkly junk, that of course, totaled more than the $20 gift certificate. Silently admitting defeat, I threw in the balance – $8 and change – and at this point, would have paid double that amount to have been anywhere but Claire’s.

Here, then, are the adjusted circles of Hell:

1. Limbo

2. Lust

3. Gluttony

4. Greed

5. Anger

6. Heresy

7. Violence

8. Fraud

9. Treachery

10. A gift certificate to Claire’s

Robin Cushman Phillips July 22, 2011 at 11:23 AM
Oh, what a familiar experience! I thought I had repressed all that.

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