I found my peeps in a consignment shop. A Madison Avenue consignment shop, but a used clothes store just the same. And, please. “Vintage” is to “Dried Pitted Plums” as “Pit & Crotch Clothes” is to “Prunes.” Get over it.
It’s not that I was actively looking to find another mother who tortures her children by putting herself first from time to time—in fact, I was looking for a new wallet with a used price tag—but there they were, mother monsters of my own kind, on the second floor of Michael’s, where the merchandise is real and the people are fake.
Earlier in the week, I’d hit up Canal Street in search of a real leather fakes. You don’t need to say it; irony suits me. I know. Bad bad very bad Stephanie. E-ville Stephanie. Now that that’s behind us… here’s where the real evil kicks in. I brought my kids with me.
There we are, winding our way through tourists and Asian Whisperers (Louis Vuitton, Tory Burch, Gucci, Fendi, Chloe, Coach, YSL )…
Sidebar: How in the Jesus does COACH make that list? Who would want a knockoff Coach? I mean, if you’re going to carry a replica, don’t underestimate yourself. Aim high.
… searching for a storefront that seems to promise quality, and all the beans want is to hit up a toy store. “Yes, but this is Mama’s toyland. If you’re good, you can have a cheeseburger.” Oh, yes. Author of Moose, rewarding her children with quel kosher animal products as she shops for same.
I’m shown a laminated piece of paper with images of “it” bags, directed to point to the ones I want. Then, we’re instructed to wait, in the sun, while they get the goods from another location. Twenty minutes and several fits and whines later, the goods arrive in a black shopping bag. A forty-five-year-old man in flood pants waves me into a restaurant vestibule, so I can inspect the merchandise out of police view. None of the LV’s are cut off, and all the hardware says Louis Vuitton, but it feels like a lawn chair. It then occurs to me that I don’t even want an LV. It’s not a deal unless it’s something you actually want. Something you’ll feel confident, beautiful, important wearing. Something luxurious. But what’s luxurious about carrying a fake, wondering if anyone can tell? “No, thanks.”
So, do I quit there and then? Um, no. I’m lured in again by another Whisperer. She walks us down a block then whips out her cell and phones the next Whisperer, directing us to a storefront, “the one with the blue I heart NY tee-shirt.” I yank my kids onward, promising just five more minutes. Nothing in Chinatown takes five minutes, not even a happy ending. The new Whisperer greets us, gesturing to come closer, then ushers us through what can only be described as a shopping booth of a store. Then the seas part. The back wall of the store, pocked with horrendous knockoff bags, slides open, revealing two hidden rooms five times the size. Tory Burch. Chanel. Gucci. Wallets, wristlets, shopping totes, scarves, and bags bags bags. Come to Mama. No, no, you, “Kids, you sit here. Don’t move. Don’t touch anything.” ‘Cause that’ll work. Thankfully, my kid sister is also in tow, agreeing to entertain (read: bribe) the wees.
And after all that, I get nada. I can’t bring myself to do it. NOT, by the way, a moral decision but an aesthetic one. What’s the point, really? I won’t feel good carrying it, and that’s the whole point. Buying confidence and quality, something I can hand off to my daughter one day.
Which brought me to the Upper Least Side, at the stairwell of Michael’s. And it was there, a day later, sans kids, where I saw another set of almost four-year-old twins pitching their own fit. One threatening to poop. “Mommyyyyy, I have to make DOODY!” she screamed. And her mother continued to examine the soles of Jimmy Choo’s as if her daughter wasn’t about to defecate. Instead of being appalled I thought, “Now, that’s my kind of woman.”
It’s not a pretty thing to admit, but at least I’m being authentic. I haven’t always owned it the way I do now. Once upon a life ago, I felt like the knock-off.
In the end, I paid full price for an old stand by. My tried and true love: Anya Hindmarch.