Jewish World Review May 2, 2003 / 30 Nissan, 5763

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Mom shudders at thought of the m-a-l-l | The most dreaded four-letter word to scorch my ears is spelled m-a-l-l. My teenage daughters sometimes ask me to go to the you-know-what with them. Naturally, I resist with every ounce of rebellion I have, but for the most part it's futile.

"I'll go to the mall, but I'm not going in the clothing stores, " I announce. "I'll go to the giant housewares store, the candle store, the home improvement store, but please don't make me go to the clothing stores."

You know the ones I'm talking about. They play the music that turns your kidneys and ear drums completely inside out.

I've always wondered who sets the decibel level for the music. It's probably some 17-year-old sitting behind two-way glass. Every time he looks up and sees someone over 35 enter, he cranks up the volume on the sound board nine more notches.

Then again, it could be some middle-aged bean-counter reasoning that if he gets customers focused on their pulsating headaches, they will pay any ridiculous amount just to get out of the store. Audio blackmail. In any case, I should be pleased my girls want me to come along and give my opinion and not just my plastic.

That said, I must also note that the girls have rather strident rules I must abide by when I'm at the you-know-what. I can poke my head in the fitting room and give a thumbs up or thumbs down, but I am not allowed to loiter outside the fitting rooms.

When I see some little gal come out of a dressing room looking like a tart in low-rider pants slung so low her long division shows when she bends over, I am absolutely not supposed to say: "Nice look, honey. Trying to catch a guy with your math skills, huh?"

I'm also not supposed to mutter things like, "Will you be able to take those clothes off, or will you have to peel them off?"

Furthermore, I am never, ever, supposed to walk up behind guys whose pants are sagging like a toddler in need of a diaper change and motion like I am about to jerk said droopy drawers to the ground. A rule for this, a rule for that. Motherhood can be so oppressive. Sometimes I wonder what I'm good for.

Our youngest daughter recently bought a T-shirt with what seemed to her a funny phrase on it. Her older brother advised her not to wear it and told her the amusing phrase was a double entendre.

He didn't want to explain what it meant, so he said - and I quote - "You should ask Mom. Mom knows everything that's dirty. She even knows some stuff she thinks is dirty, but it's really not."

So that's my job description? Mom: The one with the dirty mind. Mother: The hand that rocks the cradle and indexes street slang.

Actually, in today's world, pointing out the dirt, explaining why it's inappropriate, and steering kids away from the crude and coarse is an important part of a mother's job. Unseemly, but important.

After I explained the double meaning, the kid was so embarrassed she shut herself in the closet where we keep the vacuum and has not been seen since. I returned the shirt to the store myself, and no, I didn't heckle teens coming out of the fitting rooms. (I didn't have time.)

The clerk looked at the shirt I was returning and then she looked at me. She didn't say anything; her expression said it all. "What a disgusting shirt, lady. You and your dirty mind."

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.

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© 2001, Lori Borgman