I heard on the news that Claire's, the "teen" jewelry chain, is filing for bankruptcy. Here's an excerpt from a story I wrote several years ago that features one of my favorite visits to Claire's. The entire story originally appeared on my old blog The Urban Erma and can be read here. You can also hear the story in the companion podcast.
When the man walked in every woman’s head simultaneously turned to look at him like we were Stepford-Children of the Corn. It’s unusual to see a man in Claire’s. (Oh, you don’t know what Claire’s is? Then you don’t have a pre-pubescent girl in your life. Well, technically I don’t either, but I used to be one and thus never lost my taste for girly-girl accessories on the cheap.) Even male employees are rare at Claire’s. And the ones they do have don’t usually dress in business suits. We women said nothing out loud but I’m sure our Borg collective thought was: “What are you doing here, Sir? Are you lost?”
It turned out that he wasn’t in Claire’s to indulge a latent desire for multi-colored scrunchies and matching eye shadow. This six-foot tall man had his five-year old daughter in tow. Or rather, she had charge of Daddy. Little Miss – already a savvy shopper – skipped in, picked up a basket, and began selecting the items that she wanted. She was giving Daddy a running commentary on what she was picking and why she had to have it. I’m not sure Daddy understood it all, but he followed her around dutifully and seemed to hang on every incessantly babbled word.
When Little Miss was finished, she took her basket and headed not for the register, but for the front door. Clearly, she was done and ready to leave. Her father said, “Wait, wait, Sweetheart! We have to pay for that.” Everyone in the store knew that “we” meant “he.” Little Miss didn’t need money. She had Daddy and when you’re five Daddy pays without protest.
How I wished that moment had been recorded, so that when Little Miss turns 16 and swears that Daddy just doesn’t love or understand her, he can just press “Play” and let the evidence speak for itself. He went to Claire’s for you, Boo. Case dismissed.