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Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Department Debacle

Did anyone else from my generation go through that awkward phase where you were too old to shop in the junior's department but too young to peruse the women's departments that featured brands like Liz Claiborne? I hated that phase! Back then, The Limited was featuring career wear and stores like Express or departments like Nordie's T.B.D. didn't exist. Awkward! Yes, I was growing up, but didn't know where to shop.

Today I found myself between departments, so to speak, when I attended our kids' former baby-sitter's bridal shower. At 44 I certainly wasn't a natural fit with the twenty-somethings who dominated the party with their lovely, long, straightened hair and on-trend dresses. Yet I wasn't an exact match for the late 50+ crowd of relatives-to-be, either. When the soiree gathered to eat at tables in the back yard I wondered where to go. It was the department store debacle all over, only this time with people. Smartly, I pushed vanity aside (oh, to be young again!) and set my cork-wedges in the direction of the older table.

Let's not make this bigger than it was: either grouping would have been fine. Earlier, while mingling with the younger crew, I adopted the role of inquisitive newbie, asking all the right (light) questions about careers, friendships and even fashion. The young women were full of energy and they were an absolute delight to engage. The older women were, too, though I found myself in a more balanced exchange of communication. The younger gals freshly talked about new career paths and strong ideals; the mature group shared intriguing stories about their accomplishments and their wisdom. The older set had a secret ingredient that the younger set hadn't quite honed: gentle cynicism. (And for me, the girl who notoriously does not like showers of any kind-- that made my choice of table groups much more fun!)

I didn't win the clothes-pin game, nor the guess-how-many-corks game, but because of subtle cheating (!) my table won the how-much-do-you-know-about-the couple contest and I was awarded a mini-bottle of Kettle 1 Vodka (which happens to be Brian's favorite).

Truly, today wasn't about me. I was secure in that from the get-go. More importantly than fitting in or winning silly games, I was there to witness the happiness of a truly special young woman as she prepares to wed a wonderful man. But a bonus of the event was that when faced with another age reality check, I knew which way to go, and actually found something in both "departments" that fit after all. :)

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