Fred Goes Halloween Shopping


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While I was looking forward to Boston in the hopes that I could explore areas that I had never seen before, my dream came true on Saturday when I went Halloween shopping with William. This was preceded by an excellent panel presented on campus where the President of the school talked with successful current students, four of whom had begun start-ups while being in school. The panel was closed off by a short movie in which freshmen and parents were interviewed. I was interviewed Friday morning but hadn’t told Will, so he, slightly bored throughout, sat up when he saw me on camera and acted like he saw a ghost.

Speaking of ghosts, Halloween is around the corner and Will needed a costume. Since he doesn’t like face paint (see previous post—but doesn’t seem to mind running through Boston in his boxers), he decided he should dress up as Fred in Scooby Doo. For those of you who need a Scooby Doo refresher: Fred is the blond pretty boy with the Ascot.

William had picked out a thrift store (Goodwill) where a few of his friends were also going. While I am all for recycling and the sharing economy, I do have my reservations about thrift stores because of the “gross” factor: after all, you never know where the stuff has been. In San Francisco, my kids have consistently gone to places in the Haight and I will tell you: compared to the thrift store we went to, the stores in the Haight should really be renamed Saks and Nordstrom’s.

I started having my doubts when we crossed a parking garage on foot and ended up on the other side of the (T)-tracks. The boarded-up windows, broken glass and pawn stores were a dead giveaway as was the fact that we all of a sudden were the only white people in town.

We had entered Roxbury and Will admitted that he probably wouldn’t be walking there if he were by himself. I’m not sure he told me that to reassure me or himself. Even though I am like 5’11, I could have hardly counted for protection. I also wished I had left my (fake) jewelry at home, as well as the laptop that was sitting in my backpack.

William, who likes to show off the fact that he’s from California because that makes him look cool at a school where most kids come from the Northeast, was wearing his flip-flops and tripped a few times over the uneven pavement and potholes. He said that he trips a lot in Boston but the pavement in Boston is just fine—in Roxbury… not so sure.

As I got a dirty look from a veiled Muslim woman getting into her car, we finally arrived at the damn Goodwill where Will’s friends had already been shopping. After introductions (I was the single parent there… and of course Will only took me, not because he wants to bond with mommy but because he’s cheap and when I am along I will pull out the credit card), William asked:

“So where is the Ascot rack?”

“Ascot?” His friends asked as if he asked for the theory behind quantum mechanics.

“Man scarf—“ Will uttered, whereupon, a few minutes later, a friend produced an orange woolen rag that looked like it had been sitting inside of a very hairy dog bed its entire life rather than that it had ever graced a man’s neck. I whispered to Will he shouldn’t go for it as it might give him a skin rash that would make him unpopular with the girls. That worked like a charm. The scarf was discarded onto a whole album with family pictures. A family album, give it to Goodwill, really?!

As Will was going busily going through the racks, while I pretended to go through the racks and refrained from touching because who wants to buy a shirt with pit stains and dirty collars, two employees of the store brought in a cart with donations. They were wearing face masks and suits that might be approved by the CDC as first-rate Ebola suits. Why oh why hadn’t I brought that hand sanitizer?

Will quickly found a white sweater that was once white but now looked more like a sheep that had been frolicking in a puddle and then he hopefully glanced at the rack with suits. He needed a suit for frat functions, so he started trying on blazers like they were the bee’s knees. Maybe it was indigestion from the fried onion rings Will had talked me into over lunch, or maybe it was the Goodwill at Roxbury where I saw characters who could have easily starred next to Ben Affleck in that bank robber movie The Town which also takes place in Boston.

I stared at the dark suits while Will was rubbing at a stain on a lapel. How many dead men were hanging there? I mean, the rack felt like this was the destination rack for the suits that were donated when men die—too much stuff to sort through when someone dies, so those suits, out with it. The kind of suits which still may have stuff in the pockets because no one had time to apply that last due diligence. Will was excited—he found a blazer but the pants? Made for an old geezer, he said (yeah, duh). He found another blazer yet still no orange Ascot. In the end, I think we had 3 shirts, a t-shirt, a shabby sheep and a snappy blazer. Total: $24, what a steal. Fred was ready for Halloween. When Jon heard about the outing, he insisted Will bring the stuff to the dry cleaner’s before he even takes it inside. Will was happy with that offer, so life is good and I, well, I saw a part of Boston that wasn’t even in the index of my travel guide.

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