As a reader of Vogue and The Wall Street Journal, I was keenly aware of the launch date for the Missoni for Target collection. Our local department stores have children’s fashion shows and “doorbusters.” Circulars advertise the Men’s Heritage Patio Collection of short-sleeved dress shirts or women’s “fashion” cardigans. It does not quicken the heart. The WSJ reported that several metropolitan areas aside from the obvious ones, among them Birmingham, Al., were slated to receive an unusually large shipment of merchandise.

And you know, New York fashion week is happening far away, but Target, we have that. I can participate.

The night before the collection was due, I called the store to confirm it would be at our branch, but the woman at customer service was very cagey. She wasn’t giving anything away: “The new stock arrives at night and we never know what we’re going to get. What kind of a product is this?” And then, indicating that there was some kind of local buzz afoot she added, “Didn’t you call about 10 minutes ago?”

I figured I would try my luck anyway. I needed fresh herbs, capers, and a few other items from the supermarket. It wasn’t shopping it was “errands.” I was multitasking. I was doing field work for my blog. I like Missoni, but I also wanted to see what a national fashion phenomena would look like in the Pays de Bama.

Ready to bust down the door is a woman in short black bike shorts and white athletic socks pulled up mid-calf, a purse strapped across her torso. At the Missoni clothing display two women are riffling through the racks and loading up with clothes. They are chatting as they go, egging each other on, shopping together, which I realize is the most unusual thing about this scene.

Shopping at Target has this lonesome zombie quality. If you came with your children they have gone off in different directions. My husband and I often become separated and I have to phone him. Every now and then I have had conversations with strangers about the clothes, very personal, sudden, brief encounters where we can offer each other frank assessments that we would not share with a friend. “Excuse me,” a woman will say to you by the racks, “Can I ask you something. What do you think of this top?”

I might start hanging out here, pretending to shop, just to have these kinds of conversations. At my office in London, most mornings started with some kind of sartorial analysis. And material for disquisition was abundant. Here, all I see is your car, your bumper stickers (“Insured by Smith & Wesson” or “I bet Jesus would use HIS turn signal”), your honor roll child car sticker, your tattooed forearm, not all in the same vehicle, usually.

In the aftermath of the Missoni launch, I learn that certain celebrities had been tweeting in anticipation about their desires for the zig-zag print bikes and patio furniture. The Target site went live on Missoni morning and crashed 30 minutes later. It was a crazy day of retail, of staggering disappointments for those whose items disappeared from virtual shopping baskets during the checkout process. Close to 40,000 Missoni for Target items can now be found on ebay. I look at them to see what I missed out on. Here in the pays it was calm and polite.

This morning, a promo for a local radio show summed up three states of being for men in their leisure time here: whether you are sitting in your house, working in your garage, driving…

I spent the fat middle of today with my daughter and our friends buying the girls shoes for dancing lessons. My younger daughter is an exuberant shopper. We could have completed our mission after we found the black Capezios, but the girls wanted to look at dresses. To shop at their age is sociable and fun, even if the rack of dresses is flagged with a sign that says Doorbusters.


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