Saturday, July 26, 2008

Oh, to be young again...

I walked into Abercrombie & Fitch today and immediately regretted it. I was too self-conscious to turn around and walk out, because I felt like the smirking nineteen year old male model they hired to stand at the front door was judging me, so I did a quick lap through the dark and thumping recesses of A & F and departed, confirming for myself what I already knew.

1. I am too old to be stepping foot into Abercrombie & Fitch.

2. The music in that store is absurdly, stupidly loud.

It's a strange feeling to be twenty-five years old and feel ancient, but Abercrombie somehow manages to make me feel like Methuselah with its club-like, throbbing bass, fifteen-year old staff, and dark, cave-like lighting. The weird thing is, I used to shop there -- quite recently, in fact. Like, last year. Thank goodness they don't check ID's at the door because I'm pretty sure people over the age of twenty-two aren't really allowed in there unless they're shopping for ripped-up, $72 jean shorts for their fifteen-year old (slutty) sister.

Oh, but I remember the first time I shopped at an Abercrombie store. I was twelve, it was the summer between sixth and seventh grade, and I was in Baltimore. This was back in the day when the stores had plaid carpeting, bright lighting, and sold flannel shirts and tapered corduroys. I know this because I purchased several flannel shirts and a pair of tapered corduroys and was thrilled when a "cool" girl told me she liked my pants. Apparently I was not the only one in 1995 who thought ankle-pinching pants were awesome.

Then, sometime in high school, Abercrombie got wildly popular, and they started charging $15 for those big fat catalogs full of pictures of nearly naked white people. And with those ridiculously overpriced catalogs, the "Abercrombie model" look was born. According to these pictures, girls must be skinny with stringy hair and vacant eyes, with their shirts unbuttoned at all times. Also, girls usually only wear underpants, even outdoors. All guys must look like Olympic gymnasts in hemp necklaces. Guys are always wet and glistening -- maybe they just all went swimming? Again, at the time, this seemed cool.

When I was seventeen or so, I "dated" a guy who worked at Abercrombie and was in a frat at Michigan. Major cool points. He always wore a beaded necklace and dark-wash jeans, because apparently during that season at Abercrombie, light-wash jeans were verboten. I thought he was super cool, until he told me that he and all his co-workers used to steal bags of clothes after every inventory. But, to be fair, they did only give him a 20% discount. They were asking for it.

By the end of high school, though, I think it was widely understood that working at Abercrombie was actually not worth whatever limited social cachet you got for being attractive enough to get the job in the first place, because Abercrombie paid less than Burger King and forced you to wear their overpriced clothes from that season. And no light-wash jeans.

Anyway, the point is, I think I can't really allow myself to go in there anymore. I hate feeling old, and I also hate going deaf. It was nice while it lasted, Abercrombie.

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