Saturday, April 4, 2009

Rest in Peace

I am one of those people who goes to the airport three hours before the flight, just in case. I can't stand being late; I hate getting lost and I totally freak out if I am lost when up against the clock.

So we left for the funeral at an early hour...just in case.

As we took Exit 202 of I-35 in San Marcos, Texas and headed toward the cemetery, I noticed we were about a half hour early. I wondered if it was appropriate to use the expression 'kill time' when headed to a funeral. And that's when I saw-- to my right-- that we were passing a strip center with a Ross Dress For Less and a Marshall's. God, it was a hard choice, but I made it like a grown-up (who had just been to five factory outlet malls in a week).

We soldiered on to the funeral.

Mary was there waiting. The soldiers were already there,too... standing at attention just past the grave site. My brother had asked me what Mary's parents were named so I told him what I knew from my childhood: her mother was named Mrs. and her father was named Colonel. The Honor Guard and white gloved salutes were enough to make anyone weep.

At the funeral I learned he was Lt. Col. Sterlin Moore -- never called Dr. Moore that I knew of during my years of growing up-- although he had indeed earned a PhD. I remember him from our childhood. In our adult years, Mary and I would debate which one of our fathers more resembled The Great Santini.

Our friendship survived what will soon be 50 years not because we went to John Nance Garner Junior High School together, but because we were both brought up with very exacting fathers and were bound by the voice in our heads that told us to turn out the lights. Sterlin Moore was six months younger than my father and lived a year and a half longer.

He left behind 3 beautiful (and blonde) daughters, six grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Many redheads. When we took pictures, Sarah and I put Mary in the middle because that is her birth order in her family.

We all cried a little and hugged a lot and then the family went back to 'Dad's house' for lunch. Sarah and I excused ourselves to head back to Exit 200 of I-35, the San Marcos Factory Outlets.

I'm not sure what it says about a funeral when the first thing you want to do at an outlet mall is find the Ferragamo outlet to see if they have the same shoes one of the family members was sporting at the cemetery. Maybe it says more about me.

Before we had even parked, as we drove under the highway and sailed into the parking lot, I began to see signs that said TRUE RELIGION. "Ah, Texas," I thought to myself. Once I parked, I realized the jeans maker True Religion had just opened an outlet store. Give me that old time religion.

After lunch at Johnny Rockets, dessert at Auntie Anne's and a Starbucks, we moved into the stores. The restaurant I remembered, I think Lone Star Cafe, was gone and few eateries had popped up, although Auntie Anne's does have a little pretzel truck that drives around the parking lot. (And Gucci runs a shuttle bus.)

No, Ferragamo did not have those shoes. I almost set up house-keeping at the Pottery Barn- Williams Sonoma outlet, so large and gorgeous and well-stocked and comforting. I truly had to force myself out of there. I left behind a 1930's style push-button telephone for $29.99 that I may never forget.

At a certain point in a week filled with outlet shopping, they all get to look alike. The Neiman-Marcus Last Call was not as good as one visited earlier in the week. When we got to Saks Off Fifth, we just shrugged with boredom and decided to concentrate on the outlets we hadn't seen recently: Yves Delorme, Victoria's Secret, La Perla, Gucci, Bath Junkie, etc.

The San Marcos outlets are good because there are two different builders with two different centers across the street from each other. Both Tanger and Premium Outlets have set up shops. Tanger has the more moderately priced merchandise, but among their stores is Aerosoles, Old Navy and Le Crueset. Premium has many names that you can find at their other outlet malls and several names you rarely see in an off-price mode.

Then we headed back toward San Antonio for a stop at Garden Ridge, which used to be one of my favorite stores in the world. Alas, poor Garden Ridge, I knew it well. I don't know if there are new owners or times are so bad that the good stuff is going to other discounters, but this was just pathetic-- all three warehouses of it were so bad we felt like crying. In fact, this too was like losing an old friend.

Rest in Peace.

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