A few years ago around the holidays, I received a Harry & David gift box set from my grandparents in the mail. Pears, Moose Munch, petit fours. All good stuff, I admit. This bounty, however, wasn't the usual Christmas offering I usually got from my father's parents - that would be cold hard cash. And not the $2 check from senile Aunt Linda cold hard cash. So I did what any confused/concerned (Was I going to get a half-empty box of cereal next year?) grandchild would do - I called another grandchild to see if this was a grandchild-wide development or if I had at some point during my last visit stuffed my face full of petit fours and exclaimed, "I love these things!" "It's because we're adults now," my cousin replied. "We only got the cash because we didn't have jobs." There it was. Nanny and Pa making like the unemployment office, effectively cutting us off upon recieving proof of employment. After considering moving back into my parents house for a mili-second to get back on the grandparent gravy train, I decided to not look my Moose Munch in the mouth.
Fast forward to last weekend. I drove down to the suburban home of my youth for Father's Day. Since my dad's perfect day consists not of paddleball on the beach, boating (to be fair, if we actually had a boat, it may have been an option) or some other quintessential family-oriented activity, but playing golf and then watching golf (and not just any golf - the U.S. Open), my mom and I did what any women in our position would do - we went shopping. And as every girl knows, shopping with my mom means one thing: free stuff. First stop, Forever 21. I head to the dressing room, my arms about to fall off from all the $20 goodness piled high, when my mom announces she'll be next door in Z Gallerie if I need her. Fair enough. Ruffled sundresses and Usher aren't your thing, mom, go ahead and peruse bamboo placemats and fancy patio lanterns. I get in line with a reasonable four items behind a Hannah Montana-aged girl and her mom, which reminds me: hey, where's my mom? And, more importantly, her wallet?
Next stop, Urban Outfitters.
"I'm going to put money in the meter," my mom announces.
"Okay, so I'll meet you in the store?"
"Um, I think I'll just wait at the other end of the mall."
"Take your time!"
After balking at $78 cotton sundresses, I settled on a top from the sale rack and decided to call it a day. I was thirsty anyway, so we hit my favorite smoothie shop (small Sir Choco, please) before heading home. "$5.08," says the teenage smoothie employee. My mom is inspecting a low-fat coffee cake, so I whip out a five spot and sift for change. Five pennies. "Mom, do you have three cents?" She doesn't. Mind you, this is a woman who's notoriously carried enough change in her purse to feed a meter for three days. I hand over a quarter (yes, at 30, I still don't own a washer and dryer -- quarters are coveted). It was official. I was an adult. With a job. More importantly (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), a job my family could comprehend, unlike my previous incarnation as a freelance writer. Ah, those were the days: when no one understood what I did and so they assumed I was poor. Someone pass the gourmet fruit.