It’s hard not to notice I’m the only person with crow’s feet in this American Eagle, but what can I say, I joined their mailing list in the nineties, back when it was actual mail, and they haven’t kicked me off yet. Honestly, I’m not sure if I can wear mom jeans ironically or if the double irony cancels itself out, but I don’t care. I’m just here for their comfy yet butt-enhancing denim.
But as I browse, I barely have time to consider if I’m too old for this wholesome-yet-sexy college girl aesthetic because I’m also thinking, where’s the exit in this place? And, if the report of semi-automatic weapons echoes through the mall, will I, as the oldest person here, have the moral responsibility to lead everyone to safety?
Of course, this isn’t the only place I question my responsibility to shield the public from some crazed man-child carrying weapons of war; I have to make this call every time I visit a Whole Foods or Dollar General, a barbecue or ribbon-cutting ceremony, the symphony or a demolition derby, a Dave Matthews Band concert or a Coen Brothers movie. It’s just that, usually, I’m not the oldest person involved, so I’ve got comrades in arms, if racks of hoodies or loaves of organic bread or a box of Milk Duds could be considered “arms.”
On my way to the fitting room, I make sure to scope out the stock room since, in the event of a near-military assault on the mall, lord knows these kids won’t have the foresight to take cover behind the winter shipment of adorable new wooly hats and cozy mittens that haven’t been put out yet.
American Eagle’s target market, according to the internet, is fifteen to twenty-five-year-olds, which makes me confident I’m the oldest person to try on this super-cute jumper and cements my responsibility during an act of domestic terrorism at a suburban mall. Side issue: do these overalls make my butt look flat?
A mom walks in with her tween while I’m checking out the stock of bralette tops that will offer little support to my adult frame. Finally, a partner! Should the worst happen, she and I can team up in an unstoppable wall of elder-millennial-hood and barricade the entrance with racks of throwback bomber jackets. That or die trying, which actually seems pretty likely.
Never mind. Her daughter just called her a bitch, and now she’s dragging the kid out of here. I’m on my own again.
I suppose the two pony-tailed cashiers also have some sort of duty to protect. Perhaps they’ll step up if a sixteen-year-old carrying assault weapons shoots his way past their 25% OFF UNDIES sign. But, honestly, who could blame a pair of teenagers for failing to martyr themselves? Me, however… this is my second go around with flannel shirts and flare jeans; I’d have no choice but to take charge.
Come to think of it, teens get a lot of school training for this scenario—a crazed gunman bursting in and killing a bunch of people for fun—so maybe we can band together Red Dawn-style to thwart the domestic terrorists.
And yeah, referencing 1984’s Red Dawn, starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey just reinforces that I’m definitely the oldest person here, flattering high-rise jeans notwithstanding.
All right, I’ve made my purchases of the comfortable yet trendy clothing that’s kept me coming back for decades. Someone else will have to take my place as the most ethically responsible person in the store.
I was thinking of stopping at Talbots on my way home, but as the youngest person there, I’d have a responsibility to get everyone out safely in the event of a shooting incident, and honestly, I’m just too tired.