Back when they paid her the Big Money, Broke-Ass knew how to shop. Her idea of “green” was related largely to the color of cold cash and figuring out which sample sale most deserved her outlay of it. Consequently, she amassed quite a respectable wardrobe comprising the unimpeachably designed apparel of Rick Owens, Ann Demeulemeester, Vivienne Westwood, Hanni Y, Comme Des Garcons, Gucci, Helmut Lang…she could go on, but this nostalgic inventory-taking is beginning to kill her softly, so nu–enough. Suffice it to say, her children’s clothes–those that were not amazing hand-me-downs or hand-knit from aunties–were also sample sale gems from Calypso Enfant, Best & Company. And so on.
Anywho. Once Broke-Ass’ hind quarters were roundly deposited here at El Rancho, the circumstances of her former life were rendered as remote as what her children tell her is now the former planet, Pluto. She held onto her clothes as long as she could, but pride goeth before the money, so Broke-Ass recently sold a vast percentage of her closet holdings to the fabulous Eva Gentry Consignment on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.
And the beat goes on. Broke-Ass, it may not surprise you to learn, became rawther a resourceful dresser: You can take the money away from Mama, but the fancy stays. Thus, she has been known to “upcycle” (as the young people say) various items for funkwear, tickling her own sensibilities but humiliating her two older children, Baby Poodle and Little Mousie, at school and when their friends come over.
And that is where our story officially begins on this fine October day, the Friday before Halloween.
Baby Poodle has had it with the homemade everything around here. The homemade bread, the homemade garlic and dandelion leaf pesto, the homemade granola, the homemade pizza with homegrown tomatoes and basil (and mozzarella cheese, also homemade). Frankly, Broke-Ass can’t blame her. Baby Poodle is now a fourth-grader who wants to listen to Selena Gomez, to watch “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” and to wear clothes from Old Navy. Baby Poodle gets an “absolutely not” and an annoying lecture every time she asks for any of these things. But Halloween is the worst.
“Everybody else,” claimed Baby Poodle yesterday, “gets to buy a costume–we look like nerds.” What?! In Broke-Ass’ day, everyone felt bad for the kids with the store-bought costumes because it seemed like their parents were phoning it in. “Halloween is a celebration of unfettered creativity!” Broke-Ass began to lecture. And then stopped. Poor Baby Poodle. She just wanted a regular costume. Couldn’t a child who has had to suffer through homemade everything at least get a store-bought costume?
So, with 50 bucks in her bank account, Broke-Ass rounded up Baby Poodle, Little Mousie, and Two Lumps of Sugar in the 11-year-old minivan and headed into Ricky’s Halloween Headquarters in TriBeCa.
To say it was a mob scene would render the situation a vastly understated cliche. What a fucking nightmare! They had only an hour on the MuniMeter, so Broke-Ass and her children had to dive into the lame-ass moshpit that was Ricky’s yesterday at 4:30pm, and grope around for the best possible costumes. Since Little Mousie is something of an artiste, she just wanted a blue wig to be a “night fairy” and, in fact, patently refused to buy a costume because she has her own ideas about what night fairies should look like–ideas that could only become manifest, she said in so many words, via experimentation with the vast supply of cast-off fabric and clothes at El Rancho. Fine. Two Lumps of Sugar, being only 17-months-old, does not get a choice in these matters: He’s going as a bumble bee.
But Baby Poodle really, really, really, really wanted a costume. She wanted a costume so badly that it was impossible to decide which one she should get. Broke-Ass suggested that she go as the split personality of Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana. “Weeelllll…” said Baby Poodle, wanting to be compliant but clearly not into any more “suggestions” from her freakish mother. What Baby Poodle most wanted to be go as was “Alex” from “The Witches of Waverly Place.” It was obvious. “Just get it, honey,” urged Broke-Ass–noting that the costume was 30 dollars (and could easily have been homemade). “Are you sure, Mama?” Baby Poodle asked tentatively. Broke-Ass could have cried. “Yes, baby, yes–get it,” said Broke-Ass. So, Baby Poodle, trembling, picked the package–and the total that rang up was clearly going to result in an overdraft fee. Shit. But it had to be. It just did.
Baby Poodle was practically in tears trying the costume on at home–she was so happy! Then she was actually in tears: She had picked two sizes too small by mistake. The costume: not returnable or exchangeable. Broke-Ass could not stand it: Baby Poodle was flat-out bereft. This is why being poor sucks, in a nutshell.
But fuck it. Broke-Ass is going out tonight and buying that damn costume in the right size, by collecting change from around the house and borrowing the remainder. Thirty bucks = important statement of love. This is the kind of vastly understated cliche Broke-Ass stands behind.