Friday, February 27, 2009

Catalog Junkie

Last week while walking through
JC Penny, I noticed a giant mountain
of catalogs.
Memories flooded in my veins.
Good times returned briefly in
my daydreams.

Stacked like colorful bricks
at each checkout,
it was a sure sign of Spring.

You see,
I used to get one of those
little cards in the mail
that let me know that
"The JC Penny Spring and Summer
Catalog has arrived!
We have one ready for you!"

I used to get excited.
For a woman that rarely bought clothes,
I still enjoyed the "window shopping".
It was my hot line to fashion.
My secret door that opened up to a world
of clothing charisma.

It all went back to my childhood
when my sister and I would
"play catalog".
We would circle the outfit we wanted
on each page,
picked out the jewelry we'd wear,
the hairstyles we loved,
and even the well-dressed babies
that we would stroll down the street in
a JC Penny carriage.

The love of catalogs stayed with me
through adulthood.
They were my imagination station.
My escape
and my lifeline to luxury.

But, after years of paying interest
on my JC Penny credit card,
my enthusiasm extinguished itself.
I got rid of my card and
started paying cash for clothes.

Soon JC Penny forgot about me.
The "Come And Get Your Catalog!"
cards stopped coming.

My catalog collection dwindled
to a single thin Fingerhut publication
that featured pleather jackets,
satin zebra-print sheet sets
and cute potato bins.

I lost that door to style.

I was uncertain if Spring had begun yet.

I felt like all my mannequin friends,
foot models,
and underwear dummies
had abandoned me.

Each morning I painfully chose
clothing to wear-
not sure if it was the style-
the acceptable fashion-
if my old catalog friends
would ever be caught dead in it.

I was a wreck.
A basket case.
A lone woman who desperately
needed a catalog fix.

I hung around the Catalog Center
hoping they might feel sorry for me
and toss me a damaged issue-
that they might let me peek
at the bright spring sandals and purses-
for just a second or two.

I checked the dumpsters daily-
hoping a careless salesperson
might throw one away-
and I even bugged the mailman
for a month-
finally accusing him of keeping
the catalog announcement for himself.

I finally got a catalog.
On eBay.
It's a 1975 JC Penny Fall and Winter.
Outdated a little-
but it's all coming back.
The lime green and orange
and hippie stuff.

I've forgiven JC Penny for
their human cruelty-
and the mailman has started
delivering my mail again.

Life is good.

But I still "play catalog"
whenever I get the chance.