Everybody has one of those stories. You walk into a place, and it’s painfully obvious that you do not belong. Whether you were the lady that walked into the men’s bathroom, or the redneck cowboy that stepped into an elevator full of drag queens, everyone has had that feeling at one point in their life. Heads turn, awkward looks follow. The same expression is seen on everyone’s face around you, “Are you lost?” My moment of being the pariah came the second I walked through the door at Tiffany & Co.
It was nearing Christmas of 2003. I wanted to make this first Christmas with my girlfriend the best she ever had. Lucky for me, I had finally come to the realization that I was one of those boyfriends that was disturbingly pathetic at giftgiving. Ask my college girlfriend, I was terrible. It wasn’t on purpose, I always had the best of intentions. Creative lapses and bad advice from girl friends (thanks a lot, Brooke and Amy) always did me in. Every Christmas I was shocked by the lack of joy on the face of my girl. I was bound and determined to make this Christmas incredible. But as the holiday drew closer, I found myself in the midst of another creative lapse.
Fortunately, I had an angel on my side. One of my very best friends also moonlighted as my boss at the radio stations. She was a true friend, with a great attitude. More importantly in that moment was the fact that she had impeccable taste. She knew I wanted to do something special, so she suggested jewelry. Duh! How can you go wrong with jewelry? She shows me a bracelet someone got for her awhile back from Tiffany & Co. It was simple and classy, with a tag that could be engraved. Suddenly, the creative juices were flowing like mad. I get off work and head straight to the upscale mall in town.
The Bellevue Square Mall itself did not seen welcoming. I walk in and I’m surrounded by very uppity men and women that probably make in a week what I would in a month. Everyone seemed beautiful, it didn’t make sense. I make my way through the mall, passing countless stores I would never dream of shopping in. Fireworks, J. Crew, the Pottery Barn, all out of my league, to say the least. I turn a corner and find myself standing in front of Tiffany & Co. It’s the only store in the mall with doors at the entry. Large glass doors that look as thick as my arm rose above me, with a security guard standing just on the other side, holding his earpiece like a Secret Service agent. Oh geez, here we go.
I crossed the threshold and the oversized, bald security guard (is that a job requirement?) gives me an arrogant once over. I swear I saw him let out a slight sniff. Oh no! Did I smell poor? Did I carry the scent of middle-class? It took me until about four steps past the monster to overcome the fear of some giant cartoonlike hook catching me by the throat, yanking me out of the store. Definitely a fish out of water, I looked around at all the obviously wealthy clientele, and the teal boxes littered deliberately about.
Lucky for me, an older woman working behind the counter waved me over. She must have recognized the distraught look on my face. I’m sure the look was comparable to those of young boyfriends lingerie shopping for the first time at Victoria’s Secret. Thankfully, this sweet lady took me under her wing, and helped me through my first jewelry purchasing experience. God bless that woman! After making my decision, I cautiously made my way to the door, receipt in hand. I made sure to keep Mr. Clean in my eyesight at all times, thinking he might assume I stole something… and hand me a vicious beating.
As I got to the exit, I half expected a tollbooth to appear out of nowhere. I figured there would be some little man charging me for the upperclass oxygen that had just been wasted on such a less than worthy man as myself. Fortunately, that did not happen. Maybe they had a “first-day is free” policy. They would for sure charge me when I came back to get the engraving.