The weather is finally turning a bit cooler, so long pants are comfortable for the first time in months. In fact, Munchkin has been wanting to wear warmer clothing to school. Since she has outgrown all but two pairs of her long pants, she’s been needing some new clothes. We went to Hong Kong this weekend, and it was high on my list to go out to Stanley Market (where there are lots of vendors selling good quality children’s clothing) to restock her wardrobe. Thinking about children’s clothing reminded me of a scene a few years ago, which I told David about as we rode on the train to Hong Kong.
The first winter we were here, which was three years ago, one of my daughters forgot her school lunch. I got a phone call to please deliver the lunch at lunchtime, which I did. There is a small sitting area in front of the school. At the appointed time, and I sat on a bench in front of the school and waited for my child to come out and get her lunch. There was a Korean daddy sitting there, also delivering a lunch to his daughter. His child came out before mine did and got her lunch. I was shocked when I saw her. Because, embroidered right across her bottom, the back of her pants sported the word, "Juicy". In my mind, I imagined that the Korean dad must not speak English and that he must not know the meaning of the word that his daughter was wearing across the back of her butt. I considered going up to him and asking him, "Do you know what that word means?" But I didn’t. I also considered telling the girl directly that I thought it was not a good thing to have written on her pants, but I didn’t. I kept my astonishment to myself. When my own daughter came out of the building, I simply gave her the lunch and left. Later, she and I talked about what I had seen. "Yes," she agreed, "most of the Korean parents don’t speak English, but if they did they [being very conservative parents generally speaking] would be shocked at some of the things their children are saying and doing." Anyway, something about the anticipation of shopping for clothes triggered this memory, and I reiterated the story as we rode on the train.
There is also another side of me, as a shopper. For the first 40 years of my life, which is roughly up until the time when I had teenagers, I was vehemently opposed to wearing any clothing that sported a brand name on it. It’s not that I wouldn’t wear brand name clothing, but simply a decision that I would not consent to being a walking advertisement by putting someone else’s name on the front of my clothing. So, if an article of clothing had a name emblazoned on it, I wouldn’t wear it. I relaxed this rule, somewhat, when my children were teenagers. There have been a few instances in life when my daughters legitimately could say, "I told you so." One of these was the time my daughter talked me into purchasing a Tommy Hilfiger brand outfit, even though it had the words "Tommy" emblazoned across it and seemed outrageously expensive compared with the non-brand-name outfit next to it on the clothing rack Well, five years later that outfit was still a favorite and not too much worse for the wear. Given the obvious quality, stylishness, and usefulness of the garment, I had to admit that it had been a good buy after all. Indeed, one of the things that’s attractive about the Stanley Market is that the clothing is first quality, brand name stuff at reasonable prices. For Munchkin, I anticipated finding some brands like OshKosh or Gap in our favorite little stalls.
These are the kinds of stalls where one item of each style is hung on a hanger, you tell the shopkeeper the size that you need, and she gets it out of a box. In some instances, these boxes are kept in the attic, for want of space in the shopping area. The shopkeepers are very good judges of children’s clothing size; they can look at a child and immediately assess what size is needed. In this case, we quickly ascertained that Munchkin needed size 7 with adjustable tummy elastic. This was verified by holding up a few items and trying on one or two. We didn’t have as much luck as I was hoping for in finding denim jeans. But then, we saw a beautiful velvet sweat suit, made with really nice, soft, thick fabric. We knew a size 7 would fit and it would be comfy. While Munchkin tried on the jacket, the shopkeeper held the pants up to her and ascertained that it would fit. "For you I make it cheaper," and we paid 100 HKD, done deal, put it in the bag.
On the train ride home, Munchkin got cold and decided to put on her new sweat suit. As I held up a book and blocked any view from the side, she discretely slipped out of her shorts and into the long pants, then donned the jacket over top of her turtle neck shirt. It makes a nice outfit — she chose the grey color suit which goes very well with her blue eyes, fair skin, and light brown hair. As we got off the train and were walking into the station, I got my first view of the full outfit. Can you guess what word was emblazoned across the backside of the pants? That’s right! When he saw it, and saw the look on my face as I realized exactly what I had purchased, David had a right good laugh!