« We're Calling it 'Harvest' | Main | Dirty Dancing »

October 19, 2011

Sneaking Out

Sneaking Out

by Nancy Martin

Two weeks ago, alert citizens caught Michelle Obama shopping incognito at Target.  Thumbnail  Girlfriend, can I just say that I'm so in your corner?

OKay, I'm a writer who doesn't get out much.  Success in my career depends upon how efficiently I can keep my butt in this chair, hands on keyboard. I stock up on supplies so I don't have to leave the house until I run out of every atom of turkey and swiss, lettuce and my favorite rye-pumpernickel swirl bread. When at last I must admit defeat and go to the grocery store, I sometimes feel like Rumplestiltskin.  Last week I was astonished to discover that the seasons had changed without my noticing. Hey, wha--?? The leaves are suddenly a different color!

I can't remember the last time I went to the mall. (Although, Jackie, from Lands End? Thanks so much for taking my order so cheerfully! I've been wearing my old bathrobe foe 17 years, and it really needs to hit the rag bag.) But some mornings, I do slip into my yoga pants, zip up my anonymous black jacket, put on my sunglasses and hope nobody notices my hair.  I ease into Target, too, just like the First Lady.

Can I insert a commercial here? There's no place like Target for retail therapy.  I don't mean spending money. I mean just looking. Just cruising around to admire their latest design items is fun. (I did manage to see some of the Missoni ThumbnailCA2JTFHUknitwear that crashed their website.  I gotta say, it wasn't anything I couldn't live without.) I love their back-to-school office supplies the best. (Really, can any writer pass the display of writing pens and not stop? And for me, of course, it's Post-It notes in funny shapes.) Halloween decor is fun.  They've already got Christmas stuff in the back!

So I completely understand Michelle's choice in shopping destinations.  If you want to see fun stuff, pick up a few essentials while you're at it (Revlon eyeliner, where would I be without you?) Target is the place to go.

There's one big difference between Michelle and me.

Michelle doesn't shop for toilet paper or paper towels.  "It's one of the perks," she says.

Boy, I would give a lot for somebody to buy the toilet paper and paper towels for my house. (Would your spouse pick up a four-pack of TP without being asked? No, my husband would use every Kleenx in the house before it would occur to him that we need to be re-supplied. He believes in the Toilet Paper Fairy.)

I think "sneaking out" to do some window shopping is kinda like taking a mental health day.

Michelle says sneaking out once in a while gives her daughters a feeling of "a normal life."  Well, I think I disagree there.  Times have probably changed since I was Malia's age, but back then "sneaking out" meant popping the screen out of your bedroom window and slipping out at 2am to run the streets with your best girlfriends. Why did we do such a thing? I have no idea. We never met any boys, which seemed to be the plan. And we spent most of our time giggling in other people's backyards while the single police officer in our town cruised around looking for lost kittens or whatever he was looking for in those days. Come to think of it, shopping at Target is probably a lot more "normal."

I grew up in a small town--so small that there was no shopping to be done on Main Street except the 5&10. We had to drive 2 and a half hours to Pittsburgh once a year to do our "school shopping." But I spent a lot of hours mooning over the 45 records at the 5&10. Thumbnail  (I saved my allowance to buy my first Beatles album there.)

Can I admit to you, my friends, that I love Michelle Obama? She's a breath of fresh air among First Ladies, don't you think? I like that she's leading kids in jumping jacks on the White House lawn. I like that she usually wears clothes that come "off the rack" instead of accepting designer duds, and she wears the same stuff over and over like a normal person. I like that she gets caught visiting Target, not Saks. I like that she's smart and supported her family while her husband went around asking people to vote for him. I have a feeling she's going back to work when his term is over, too. (New Secretary of State, maybe?)

Meanwhile, I have sneaked out this week.  In fact, I have made the ultimate sneak-out trip.  I am in Texas, visiting my daughter and my grandchildren. (Bobby is now three.  Edie is eight months--and talking!  Her mom was a chatty Cassie---could recite the Pledge of Allegience at 18 months, but Edie can say "Mama" and "Bye" and her own name!)  Like Michelle Obama, my daughter is a lawyer (now teaching part time at a law school) and raising her kids while making occasional theraputic trips to Target. I remember packing Cassie and her sister into a stroller on snowy days and walking them around the tiny mall in the town where we lived when they were little. I never bought anything. Just walked and looked and felt glad to be out of the house. The change of scenery felt good. 

I think "sneaking out" to visit stores just to look around is a long-standing tradition, don't you? Good for your mental health.



TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Sneaking Out:


I also like the photos of Michelle and Barak looking at one another -- they look like they actually enjoy each other. I don't remember either pair of Bushes and certainly not the Clintons enjoying their spouses.

I love sneaking out. It's a big production. No more last minute outings for me . . . but every now and then I call paratransit and arrange for an escape day. I almost always go to a bookstore or the Safeway that has a Starbucks kiosk where I meet my friend Elodie.

Sometimes I go to the butcher shop and buy local tomatoes when they have them and cheese curds when they come in. I love my poutine! Gotta have fresh cheese curds and a certain gravy from Quebec for that. Any old fries will do. This hardly ever comes together at the same time. And it's a good thing too. I've lost 75lbs now, and poutine would set me back six months!

There is nothing like spending a morning or an afternoon inside a large bookstore. Just the atmosphere of the place is soothing.

I like the occasional day away from my life. Once a week would be nice. I have to be careful, though, because I'm a weird people magnet.

I like Michelle, too, but more importantly as Holly mentions, I think her husband likes her, too. (But I don't think he'd notice when the TP ran out. Is this a new way to gauge something in men?)

I do seem to remember some tender moments with the younger Bushes. The Clintons, no, I never believed what I was seeing of either of them. The Bushes, Sr....don't you think if you look Barbara Bush directly in the eye, you'd explode or something?

When we first moved to our townhouse, the closest bookstore was 20+ miles away, so visiting was a production. I watched with eager anticipation as the B&N just a block away was slowly built, and have spent many a so-necessary hour hanging out there. Our downtown apartment is across the street from the "fancy" mall, and I do enjoy being able to take a cruise when the weather is bad and I need an outing. It has a wonderful kids' play area in the food court, too - we'll be taking Duffy there this weekend! The only downside is the deep temptation of the Apple store :)

My husband never lets us run out of TP, for which I count my blessings frequently :)

TP . . . OMG . . . TP . . . you only think you want a man who cares enough to get a multi-pack of TP. Step buys the industrial size pack every time he goes to Safeway. That's what - 24 rolls? You want TP? Come over here. When Step isn't looking I'll toss 3 or 4 of these in the back of your car. If you have a pickup, just back up to the garage, and I'll have my son and his marine buddies toss 'em in. Long bed? So much the better.

Oh, Nancy, yes, yes, yes. Yes, I love Michelle. Yes, I love escaping by wandering through Target (but, as God is my witness, I can't get out of there for less than $75 even if the only thing on my list kleenex.). And yes, I could sure as heck use a TP fairy.

Have fun with those grandbabies, too!

Reine, Step sounds a lot like one of my brothers-in-law. If he goes to the store with my sister, he piles up the multipacks of TP. He's been known to grab a shopping cart for himself, just for the TP. He will occasionally embarrass her by telling the check-out clerk "there's a stomach virus going through our house", if the clerk is amused by the huge purchase.

By the way, congratulations on the weight loss that you have maintained!

I'm definitely NOT a shopper, and have always, as far back as I can remember, associated shopping with pain! I just cannot walk through a store without ending up with a lot of back and leg pain. (At the time, I didn't know that as an adult I'd find out that there's enough going on in my spine to keep neurosurgeons and rehab MDs working for life!)

I do love bookstores, though - they often have chairs, and back when they didn't, I felt comfortable enough to just sit down on the floor while I was browsing. I grew up in a family that didn't have a lot of money, so there weren't a lot of extras. However, books WERE important, and we were introduced to libraries and bookstores early on. I always plan a full day at a bookstore into my vacations, and if I'm lucky, I manage to find a library, too. My siblings and I have always had friends who valued books as much as we do. I know a couple of people who met their spouses at bookstores, including one person who ended up marrying the store owner! That was a great union for ALL of us! It's wonderful to have a friend at the bookstore! (Sadly, it is one of the independents that had to close a few years back.)

Target is one of my favorite destinations for things like paper products, socks, necessary household items. Socks - they have the best! I've bought socks at major department stores, only to have them disintegrate after the second or third washing. The socks I buy at Target last forever - hurray!

Okay, you guys are marvelous. I am here in Lubbock, TX, site of a major dust storm a couple of hours after my arrival. Whew!

I think we may have to adopt Step around here. Me, Margie can't keep us in TP.

Bookstores......aaah. Delightful sneek-out destinations.

Must go have chocolate chip waffles with the grandkids....

Ramona, I think you may have solved the mystery of "whatever happened to _______ (fill in the blank). He/she looked at Barbara Bush and exploded. I know she is one of God's children and much beloved by many of the populace, but her remarks after Katrina put her on my "not a close personal friend" list.

Yes, I do love Michele. I also liked Laura.

I'm sneaking out today to jury duty.

Speaking of socks, I got to Target a bit late in the Missoni game, but did manage to snag some very cool socks in that line. And an awesome, Art Deco-looking cocktail shaker (that I'll probably never use, but it's gorgeous). I really wanted some striped pillows, but it's just as well they were all gone.

Michele Obama is the Jackie Kennedy of the 21st century: gracious, beautiful, and seems to be a wonderful mother and wife. But unlike Jackie, she seems perfectly capable of keeping her husband content to stay right at her side. I say "seems", because, good Lord, you never know. We thought JFK was a wunderkind and he turned out to be such a slut.

Since we have two homes (hey, a double-wide is a home), I have to supply TP for them both, and my husband raids our supply here for his office. Costco is my friend, baby. Their store brand is a perfect compromise between cheap and quality, and comes in a huge bag of 48 rolls.

Nancy/Cassie, enjoy the littles. They grow SO fast, especially when you only see them a few times a year, don't they? My grandson read four pages of Harry Potter to me last week!

Oops. I forgot to sign in as myself, so I'm officially "Cassie" today. Sorry. (NANCY)

I am becoming the master of the 'sneak-up' - which is to say I go upstairs to my home office and hope no one comes up there.

Family stuff gets me out enough - although never to Target. Still boycotting them.

I do like Michelle Obama - seems like a down-to-earth person with a good sense of humor. We could use a lot more people like that in this country!

Nancy - enjoy your grands!

My knees are killing me. So much time on the floor with the grandkids. This is not a symptom of grandparenting anybody warned me about.

Jury duty! Oh, Harley. When they ask your profession, do you say "crime writer?' And I wonder if that would get us out of serving?


Nancy, you didn't go to Butler for school shopping? I remember when a trip to Pgh. was about as likely as a trip to the moon. Or Paris.

Anyway, my husband DOES pick up the toilet paper. Big lots of it at Costco. However, he has refused to actually FIX the toilet for the last 4 years or more. Two days ago it gave up the ghost, the floor did a bit of a downward dance with a nice hole opening up. We only have 1 bathroom (and it's so small that if you have 2 people in it one of them better be in the tub). And now he's telling me that nothing can be done for at least a month. He won't even call contractors. I'm not using a bucket for that long so it looks like I'm soon going to be back in Harmony.

Since he refuses to even try to drive in snow, I'll be there until spring thaw.

Boycotting Target? Why?
Jury duty -- I was sent home, too opinionated, I think -- one question was "Do you have strong feelings about drugs and/or guns?" Well, yes, shouldn't we all?

I think we boycott Target for union reasons. Or--wait--political contributions? I'm pretending to forget because............sorry.........I love Target. My bad.

Judith, never Butler. We couldn't get there from where I lived. (Typcial in PA, right?)


Wait, wait--you hardly ever leave your house (I can totally relate), yet cannot survive without Revlon eyeliner?
Am I supposed to wear my Lancome eyeliner while sitting at the keyboard in my blue bathrobe and wool clogs? Is this written somewhere in "Being A Novelist for Dummies"?
Nobody told me.

IS the toilet paper fairy the same as the dishwasher fairy?

I'm delighted when people put their dishes in the sink, hurray. But who do they think is gonna put them in the dishwasher???

Margaret, if I don't wear eyeliner, I might catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and I see my dad's eyes looking back at me. Very disconcerting.

The Dishwasher Fairy lives at my house, too, Hank. She wears the same eyeliner as the Toilet Paper Fairy.

I do the shopping for the Princesses and their mother, except for Mom's clothes. TP, Paper Towels, they come from Sam's. DW does get a kick of me running the calculator and looking for the best deal (Makers Mark brand doesn't come into our house so it is out) on paper goods.

A part of my losing 80 lbs is buying vegetables in bulk. One day my favorite check out clerk at Sam's asked about my restaurant. No, twice a week pounds of spinach, 5 lb. bags of carrots and three packs of cucumbers are usually not someone's for home kitchen.

Escape shopping "A" is any trip without the little helpers. They add about 45 minutes to a trip to the grocery store. I still cannot figure out how choosing a free cookie can take Princess Two so long. The choices have not changed in her life time, we go to the store once or twice a week, and she ends up with a M&M cookie.

Escape shopping "B" means a trip to the high end liquor store. Tried a wonderful gin yesterday. Very flowery and not harsh. Lite Al also gets to shop in regular clothing stores. Scary.

And friends, Elaine Viet's newest book, "Death on a Platter" will be available soon. For those of you in South Florida and St. Louis, here is her signing schedule. http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/923345/731da164c2/1556045037/c985a08dde/

I spent many days strolling around a mall with a stroller.
My younger daughter was a little "dickens" and one time she ran away and I found her down the mall near a plant display.
We had two open air malls and then they were enclosed.
It never seemed the same.
Lately our local mall went glitzy with an Apple Store
and many boutiques.
The large departments stores have central cashiers so that you have to bring your purchases from one department to another.
Shopping ain't what it used to be.
Enjoy your grandkids, Nancy. They sound adorable.

Alan, you're the best!

Marie, I think I'd window shop at the Apple store--and make nose prints on the window.


Reine, I'm married to his clone. We NEVER run out of TP or paper towels - the 12 pack.

But I sneaked out today, too. Not to a store but to all my hanging baskets and patio pots. I repotted all the geraniums to bring inside for the winter. Wound up rearranging the living room furniture and now have to get back to work. Only about 10K more words to go on this first draft! Then rewrite!

Go, Margaret, Go! (I have a 4-hour layover tomorrow. I hope to pound out some pages, too.)

Oh Alan . . . it is so nice to be able to shop the regular sizes, as scary as the regular clothing stores are. Congratulations on losing that 80. I hope to catch up soon.

You sound like a wonderful dad who deserves only the best on "Dad's Day Out."

The comments to this entry are closed.

The Breast Cancer Site