So what do American Eagle jeans, school supplies, school fees and combination locks have in common?
Funny you should ask.
Mom and I decided to take Rye out for a drive. Or to be more precise, we thought it was time for her to break the 45 mph barrier at this point in her development as a driver. Guess, you know, eventually she’ll need to get somewhere fast. So we let her drive us to the mall because American Eagle has a sale on jeans. And its time for some back to school shopping. So to recap…Rye got to drive. To the mall. To get herself jeans. Best day ever for her.
Then we entered American Eagle. Have you been there recently? If you have, did you spend any time actually looking around? I mean really looking around. Observing. Scrutinizing. Its like some sort of weird retro cross-pollination of 80’s preppy and hair metal faded shredded jeans. Its like Alex Keaton went to a Motley Crue concert. Rye says it fits her new 9th grade personal style. Which she has coined Chill Prep. To which I have counter coined it Very Stale. I was, and I’m exaggerating, walking around the store with one of those half grins chuckling to myself. Faded, shredded jeans? Popular. Jean jackets? On display. Plaid shirts? In the front of the store. Faded jean shorts cut off and then rolled up at the knee for dudes? On the mannequins. Faded denim shirts? Right there next to the shorts. Seriously. WTF is going on? Is it 1989? Is Love in an Elevator back on the charts? Did Herschel Walker just get traded to the Vikings? Is Hasselhoff singing on the Berlin Wall? Anyway, since we were there getting Rye new jeans, Mom and I couldn’t’ help ourselves. We both got a pair. I got mine, walked out of the dressing room, showed Rye and said, “Hey we should wear our new American Eagle jeans on the same day so we can be twinsies.”
We thought it was funnier than she did.
I’m looking around the store at all the high school kids in there, many of whom are also walking around with their parents getting some new back to school clothes, and all I’m thinking is – “these guys have no idea there is going to be a crap ton of 40-somethings dressed just like them this fall. Awesome.”
The jeans shopping with Riley went far, far better than the school supply shopping went a day earlier with all three of the girls. I don’t know how it works in your family, but in ours, Office Depot brings out the absolute worst in Bails. We’re walking around with three distinct lists for each kid. In an ideal world each individual supply list would enumerate each distinct supply in the same order so we could pick up the right thing for each girl as we move through the store in an orderly and somewhat reasonable fashion. That’s not what happened though because 5th graders and 9th graders do not need the same stuff.
We thought the logical and seemingly easiest solution is simply to have the kids walk around with their own lists and get the stuff they need. Bails is almost 11, Kinz is 12 and Rye is 14. They can do it. Sure they’ll likely miss something forcing a return a trip but its way easier than trying to manage the purchasing ourselves while they each bark at us about what they want. The issue is that the girls base their purchasing decisions based everything other than price. A one inch binder for $4 or a sweet pink binder for $8? Damn sure they’ll pick the $8 one. Zebra print folders for $2 or solid color folders for 25 freaking cents? Yup that zebra folder will find its way into the cart.
This means Mom and I have to manage this process. And it is a process that for some reason triggers a behavioral response in Bails that disables the electronic relays between her ears and her brain. Additionally, there must be something in the Office Depot ventilation system that blocks all memory of discipline and respect. Not kidding. She walks around the store with complete disregard for just about everyone, talks over everything you say, ignores instruction…so I guess what I mean is she behaves exactly like Chris Matthews.
You’d think that spending $354 on the three of them would, at the very least, make them appreciative. That’s a lot of stuff. It didn’t. But it did make me mad. Like when I found out Sharna isn’t going to be on DWTS this season. Sure Peta is still on and she’s smoking hot. But she’s also scary as freaking hell. Seriously, she one of those women who you can’t stop looking at but they also scare the crap out of you. Sharna’s just hot without the scary. And listen when you have a 9th grader who is on two dance teams and a wife who spent most of her formative years in dance, you spend a lot of nights watching DWTS. So if you’re going to doing that, you damn well have an interest in the hotness of the dancers.
But that’s just me. Whatever.
So, when I told them that if you take the $354 dollars in school supplies and combine it with the $600 I just paid in school fees for Rye and Kinz, it at least go them to pause briefly.
Yeah, we go to the 9th grade registration for Rye and I’m fairly certain that I pre-paid most, if not all of the school fees. Paid the $80 book fee. Paid the $25 for the year book. Paid the $55 for the all-sports athletic pass. Well, turns out, that property taxes do not pay for a whole plethora of stuff at public schools. Like the school bus. I still needed to pay the first quarter of bus fees. $118. Then there’s the plethora of other school fees including a crap ton of dance team stuff. $237. Then I had to add about 40 lunches to her balance. $112. Also present at 9th grade registration are other 9th graders. Including one whom Mom pointed out and labled a “cutie.” Rye agreed but added that he’s kinda full of himself. I took this all in decided that from thence forth he’ll be known as “toolbag.” Soon after that we enlisted the help of two soon to be 10th grade girls to show us around the school so Rye could find her locker and classes and other things of that nature. How it go? Here’s a sample:
“Where is your first class?”
“Speech in Room 107.”
“Omigosh, that is like the hardest class ever. It’s soooo hard. Like the hardest.”
“No it’s not. I got, like, a 96 in that class. Just pay attention and your teacher will love you. L-O-V-E you. I’m not even kidding.”
“Oh, right, here’s Room 107. It’s like super easy to find and all the English type classes are down here. You’ll totally be able to find it.”
I just went ahead and assumed that whole thing helped Rye.
The next day I had to take Kinz to 7th grade registration. Another $100 for lunch fees. But that was the least aggravating part of the process. Rye and one of her friends went with us to help show Kinz around the school. They’re walking her through the building, pointing out where her classes will be when we walk by her new locker. No big deal right? WRONG!
Kinz needs to learn how to correctly operate a combination lock. You may be like Kinz and be in possession of a brain that simply does instinctively know how to process the steps required to open the lock. Like President Obama and foreign policy.
So combination locks are pretty straight forward. Approach the locker. Make eye contact with the lock. Either commit the combination to memory or write it down. Place your dominant hand on the lock and spin it a few times. Then turn the lock to the right, without stopping, until reaching the first number. Upon reaching that number, turn the lock to the left past the second number, without stopping, until reaching that same number again and stop. Then turn the lock to the right, without stopping, until reaching the third number where you again stop. Open the locker.
Everytime Kinz tried she would start turning the lock to the left to start. And we’d tell her, nope stop, start over. And she’d get frustrated…and then she’d turn the lock to the left again. This kept happening until she finally said, “Why do I have to turn it to the right!?”
Wait, what? Did you just ask why? Why? Exactly how does knowing the philosophical underpinnings of lock mechanics help you here? Nobody knows why. But more importantly, nobody cares. No one. Not a single person. You know why? Because, much like any show that is on at the same time as Walking Dead, it is completely and totally irrelevant to anything anyone cares about. Locks are just locks. There isn’t a platform on which the lock’s tendencies are detailed. Just turn it to the right!
Eventually she figured it out. Although I’m quite certain she has since forgotten about how to correctly perform the procedure so it is entirely likely we’ll be heading back to the school to have her try it again a few times and walk her around the building to help her get comfortable. Because that’s what you do when you’re the Dad and your 7th grader is nervous about starting at a new school building.
Jury is still out on whether I’ll have to pay any extra fees for access to the building…