It all started with the invitation.  The Goose managed to get us invited to the wedding of someone we’ve never met.  “How?” you ask.  Well, she’s the Goose.  That’s how.

We were at church, and the preacher’s wife was telling us about her daughter’s upcoming wedding.  Apparently, a bridesmaid is coming and will have a baby with her.  She has no one to keep the child.  So, the Goose said, “I’ll do it.”  The next thing I knew, we were all invited.  We even got an official invitation to make it real. 

Before I sent the RSVP card back, I asked Mr. Everything and the Beetle if they would be attending the blessed event.  The Beetle answered first with a non-committed, “Why not?”  I reminded him that he would have to wear a suit or at least nice pants, a dress shirt and a tie.  He agreed.  That made three out of four of us attending the wedding, so the Mr. was in, whether he liked it or not.  I was not going to a wedding with my two children and without my husband.  I filled out the RSVP card and asked the Beetle one more time before I put it in the mail.  He said he wanted to go.  Okie dokie.

Fast forward 3 weeks.  The wedding is this Saturday.  I decided yesterday was the day to go shopping.  Mr. Everything and the Beetle did not have suits, so we had to go to the store.  The Goose and I had dresses that would work, thank goodness.  Of course, the Goose still wanted to go with us, because where there is shopping, there is the Goose.

I had to trick the Beetle to get him in the car.  It was kind of like taking a dog to the vet.  I told him we just needed to run to the store really quickly to find something he could wear.  Yeah, right.  Like any fitting article of clothing has ever been found that easily.  But, he believed it and got in the car.

What complicated this little shopping trip was the fact that we are, indeed, broke.  So, we couldn’t just go to a department store to buy suits.  Oh, no, no, no.  That would be too easy, but who wants to spend that much on something that will never be worn again?  So, we headed to the thrift shops.  Luckily (or unluckily), there are lots of thrift stores in Gainesville.  We stopped at one in our little town of High Springs and found suits that looked hopeful.  For a brief moment, I thought we were going to get off easy.  Then, I woke up.

We ended up visiting many, many thrift stores.  Two things complicated this mission.  Number one, the Goose loves to shop.  She especially loves to shop in thrift stores, because she got the cheap gene from her mother.  The child loves a bargain, bless her heart.  Starting in the first store in Gainesville, she decided she needed new dresses.  She began looking for new dresses, which involved her calling my name every two seconds. 

“Mama, where should I look?”
“Over there where the sign says, ‘Dresses.’”
“Mama, what size do I wear?”
“Probably a medium.”
“Mama, what about this one?”
“You don’t have boobs.”
“Mama, what about this one?”
“You aren’t 80.”
“Mama, what size do I wear?”
“The same size you wore at the last store.”

Continue this conversation through no less than 5 thrift stores.

Meanwhile, problem number two was that the Beetle doesn’t *do* thrift stores.  In his words, “I don’t want to wear another man’s drawers.”  I told him I was sorry about his luck.  He looked, halfheartedly, but did not want to touch anything.  He also gets this trait from me.  I feel like I have the cooties just from walking in a thrift store.

Finally, by store number three, the Beetle had given up and had started looking.  He even tried on a few pair of pants.  Every jacket “fit” according to him, even if his arms were six inches longer than the sleeves.  It was when he put on the blue jacket that I knew I was losing it.  The child tried to convince me (in a joking manner, I hope) that the blue pleather jacket with puff shoulders was a winner.  I should have let him buy it just so he had to wear it.  Sadly, it cost more than the suit we ended up getting him.

At the fourth store, the Beetle found a suit that looked nice on him and was less than $20.  It was a good brand and looked like a high quality suit.  Mr. Everything also got a suit, although he was not thrilled with his.  I thought it looked nice, and it was a good name brand too.  The pants were a little big on his waist, but with a belt, they looked just fine.  He decided to settle for it.  Meanwhile, the Goose had found a pair of shoes, a shawl, a purse, a sweater, and, and, and, and….  She ended up getting a few of the items.  We got to the register, and there was an extra 20% off!  Jackpot!

Since we were already out, Mr. E said he wanted to stop by one more thrift store that was nearby.  By store number five, I had just about lost my mind.  If the Goose had called my name once, she had called it 100 times, and that was just in the last five minutes.  I was feeling Frazzled (with a capital F). 

We went in the store, and they had no suits.  What they did have was a sale.  Oh dear.  The deal was, they would give us a paper grocery bag.  We would fill it with anything we could fit in there, and the price would just be $15.  This is where Mr. E’s amazing packing skills certainly could come in handy.

We were not going to take advantage of the sale, because I didn’t want to just buy stuff to buy it.  However, Mr. E found something he needed for the computer, and the Beetle found air-soft pellets.  By the time we bought those, we were paying $15 anyway, so we got the bag.  Then, my family fit more into a brown paper bag than I even knew was possible.  We got video games, a teacup and saucer, a doughnut maker, computer stuff and several other items.  The Goose said she felt bad because it felt like we were stealing.  I confirmed with the cashier that the sale included anything that could fit in the bag, and she assured me it did.  We paid and got out before they changed their minds.

It was at this point that I felt accomplished.  We had found suits for the guys, which was our original mission.  The Goose had gotten a few clothing items that she needed.  I had even gotten a purse to match my dress for the wedding.  Then, we had hit this other store and gotten bargains galore.  Our shopping day was done.  I was tired and glad it was over, but it had been worth it. 

Then, Mr. E said the words I didn’t want to hear.  “I really don’t like my suit.  I want to go to one more store.”  I began to whimper and rock myself gently in the front seat of the Suburban.  He bought me a Steak ‘N Shake milkshake to get me through (1/2 price, of course, ‘cause that’s how we roll).  He went in the last thrift store.  The kids and I opted to stay in the car.  I just focused on my milkshake.  I told myself it would all be okay.  When Mr. E had been in there long enough for me to finish my milkshake, I considered drinking his just to continue to soothe myself.  Instead, I was brave and went into the store.  I figured, if he was in there that long, he was probably trying on suits.  I didn’t want him to come out looking hideous, so I went in after him.  He showed me a few, and I shot them all down.  We left without a suit.  After much convincing, and a few nervous twitches on my part, Mr. Everything agreed to wear the suit we bought.  Hallelujah!

Now that the shopping is over, I'm excited about the wedding, even if I don't know the bride. When else would my family get dressed up all at one time?  We will all look so nice, and no one will even know that we bought all 4 outfits for less than $50 combined.  I do love a good bargain! -Al



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