It was Friday evening. Joe was in the mall, looking for his family. He wondered if this was a vision of things to come now that Becky and Chelsea, his daughters, were on the cusp of their teenage years.
A chime alerted Joe to an incoming text.
‘in chateau postale’
Joe stopped dead. A young woman, deeply engaged in her own texts, ran into him from behind.
“Sorry,” said Joe. The young woman glared back.
Joe looked at the stores around him. He’d never even heard of Chateau Postale. It sounded trendy. Way too trendy for a forty year old man.
When he finally located the store, Joe looked for his wife Marissa and the girls. He spotted them in the back of the store, looking through sales racks. Joe looked at the rest of the store. It was worse than he feared. Besides Marissa, there was no one in the store over thirty. He rolled his eyes and looked at the bright side. At least they weren’t in a lingerie shop.
Joe casually made his way through the store, trying to look inconspicuous. He made eye contact with a young sales rep. ‘Symon’ was on his name tag.
“Let me know if I can help you with anything,” said Symon.
“Sure thing, thanks,” said Joe. He arrived at his family to find Marissa holding several hangers. “We’re gonna be here for a while. We gotta bunch of things to try on. They’re having a huge sale,” she said. “You should see if there’s anything here you need.”
“I doubt it,” said Joe. He picked through the guy’s section just to kill time. On one shelf he found shorts his size on sale. On another he discovered a pair of jeans. Joe even found a sweatshirt discounted seventy percent. He looked around for Symon.
“Excuse me, Symon. Is this right?”
“Yep. You wanna try anything on?”
“Sure, why not?” said Joe.
Much to his surprise, Joe liked the clothes. He carried out several items and joined up with Marissa and the girls.
“You found something you like?” asked Marissa.
“Yeah. I’m surprised,” said Joe.
“Wait a second. You’re buying something?” said Becky, Joe’s oldest.
“Can I help it if I’m fashionable?” said Joe.
Becky and Chelsea rolled their eyes. They dumped their purchases in Joe’s arms, then headed to the accessories.
Joe stood behind two teenage girls in the checkout line. Symon was ringing them through. Marissa, Becky and Chelsea returned just as Joe placed his pile on the counter.
“I wonder what those girls’ll do when they realize this store’s no longer trendy,” Joe said to Symon.
Symon gave Joe a quizzical look.
“If I’m buying clothes here, then this store can’t be trendy,” said Joe.
“Daddy, you’re so embarrassing,” said Chelsea.
“It’s my job,” said Joe. “Right Symon?”
Symon smiled. “Yep. My dad embarrasses me all the time.”
“It’s a right of passage. My dad was embarrassed by his dad. I was embarrassed by my dad, so now I get to embarrass you,” said Joe.
“That’s right. Some day I look forward to embarrassing my kids,” said Symon.
“It’s one of the perks of fatherhood.”
Marissa smiled as Becky and Chelsea groaned as though they were suffering great pain.
“That’s awesome,” said Symon.
Joe finished the transaction and they headed back into the mall.
“Chelsea, Becky, let me know when you’re planning on wearing your Chateau Postale clothes. I’ll wear mine, so we can match,” said Joe.
“No!” cried Becky and Chelsea in unison.
Joe and Marissa laughed.