Shopping can be fun – honest!

I stared at the mirror. Who was this woman with the fluffy boa collar swirling so carefreely around her neck? Not quite me, but I was intrigued by the transformation.

The girls-night-out adventure began with a simple trip to the shopping mall. I usually resist shopping. I do not browse or linger in stores. My modus operandi is continual forward momentum – I snatch what I need, check out, and escape.

On this particular weekend, however, we were visiting relatives in Ohio over the holidays. We had spent a relaxing day lounging around and playing board games. After supper, I mentioned that I needed a new jacket. My niece said she knew of a department store in the mall having a great sale.

"Let's go," I said on impulse, to the surprise of everyone around me. My plan for this trip was to stride into the store, select a fabulous jacket at an irresistible price, check out, and depart. It would take a half hour at the most.

Then we – my sister-in-law, niece, two daughters, and I – arrived at the department store, with its wide aisles sprawling in all directions, each aisle overflowing with bargain-priced clothing and other merchandise.

I suspected that my usual method of speed shopping would not work. My hunch was confirmed when my companions fanned out in four different directions and began rummaging through the clothing racks. I realized I was stuck there for a while.

After sifting through jackets and not finding the fabulous bargain I had envisioned, I stalked the aisles, looking for my family. I found my sister-in-law in a dressing room, bantering with her teenage daughter, who declared that the jeans her mom had chosen to try on were "boring."

"At my age, this is what I can wear," my sister-in-law said. Her daughter disagreed and hurried off to select some alternatives.

This I have to see, I thought. My niece soon returned with a jazzy assortment of flouncy skirts, wild-patterned blouses, and bejeweled jeans.

"I can't wear those!" my sister-in-law cried.

"Yes, you can, Mom! Try them on," her daughter urged.

My sister-in-law rolled her eyes and threw me a "get me out of this" look.

"C'mon," I teased. "Try them on." I was eager to see her in something so out of character. Outvoted, she gamely tried on an outfit.

"You look so cute," her daughter cheered her on. I agreed. This mother of six children was a vision of sparkles and color. She laughed and assured us these clothes were not her style.

"But they could be," I said. "You look great."

My niece dashed away and soon returned with something for me to try, a bright paisley skirt and a slinky black blouse with a fluffy boa collar.

"Oh, nooo," I said. I would never wear something like that.

"Oh, yes," my sister-in-law said. "Fair is fair."

I gritted my teeth and tried on the outfit. I hardly dared look in the mirror.

"It's great! You look cute!" my niece said.

Well. No one had called me "cute" in quite some time. Maybe not since I was a teenager.

I stared at the mirror. Who was this woman with the fluffy boa collar swirling so carefreely around her neck? Not quite me, but I was intrigued by the transformation.

My niece dangled more choices in front of my sister-in-law and me, and we tried on the crazy combinations, laughing at ourselves, thrilled that we actually fitted into the pieces.

In the end, most of the clothes went back on the hangers. My sister-in-law bought the "boring" jeans. But we each also selected one "very unusual for us" item.

We may be middle-age women, but we still have sparks of daring within us. We still know how to act on impulse. And we still find being called "cute" simply irresistible.

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