A Day of Shoplifting

During my early teenage years, there was one brand sweeping the nation for both girls and boys: Abercombie & Fitch. It was all moose, errythang. The mannequins were draped in overly expensive clothing, fit perfectly to their size 000 bodies. I think even the male mannequins had six packs. Evidently the commandments of Abercrombie & Fitch went a little something like this: Thou shalt be aesthetically perfect, thou shalt be flawless, thou shalt put vanity above everything else, and thou shalt avoid pimples like the plague because get only one, and be forever shunned. Even boy bands were singing about the brand – LFO only had eyes for the “girls that wear Abercombie & Fitch” (RIP Rich Cronin).

And sadly, my naïve opinion of the company at the time was that if I purchased their polos and ripped jeans, I would be just as chic as the picture of the blonde on the wall, biting her lip and squinting her eyes at me. A long stretch for a skinny chick with glasses and dark brown hair. Not to mention brown skin. Nevertheless, I frequented the store quite a lot. The smells, the men, the women, it was basically a sex store cloaked in clothing.

Sadly however, just about every piece of apparel I desired I could never afford. $85 for a pair of jeans?! Who do I look like, freakin’ Bill Gates? So instead I would spend my weekend afternoons with my girlfriends perusing Abercrombie’s clearance rack, which was essentially nonexistent. And when the holidays rolled around, I would beg for gift cards to the mall’s most bitchin’ store, and picture myself rolling around in Abercrombie scarves and cashmere sweaters. Side note: were those sweaters actually cashmere? Because I remember wearing plenty of them and feeling like I wanted to itch my skin right off. Houston, we have a stage five virgin clinger in the form of a sweater.

Anyway, there was one such afternoon where I entered the store, only to have it be my last time ever to go in there. Again, it was the holiday season, and around Christmas time every year, Abercrombie would release this perfume that smelled like candy apples and Christmas morning and gingerbread cookies all wrapped up into one. I was fairly certain that upon spritzing this liquid of the goddesses on one’s body that unicorns, fairies, and glitter would just follow you around and effectually, you would be simply irresistible. Seriously, the scent of that perfume was intoxicating. So much so that if I found that perfume today (as a 24-year-old), I would actually purchase it and begrudgingly support the brand that I now have come to disdain. To be clear, however, this perfume was not the typical one that literally covered the store in a haze because it was so strong. That one was enough to make any woman sterile.

I eventually did purchase that gingerbread woman’s orgasm of a perfume, but not before my altercation with an Abercrombie sales woman. Whether you’ve seen it or experienced it before, I’m sure that those Abercrombie & Fitch employees receive training on who to keep an eye out for. What passerby or fellow shopper might be the one to try and snatch an overly tight v-neck or a bracelet that fits oh-so-perfectly in a purse and run? To be clear, their training sucked ass. These employees (at least at the store I frequented) were essentially told to watch anyone that did not have a light skin color. Let’s take it down a notch or twelve, managerial Caspers of the world. It’s not like I’m trying to flee the plantation and attempting to take your clothing right along with me.

But because I have a browner skin tone (that’s what having a father that grew up in Fiji will do to you), I was on their watch list. Yes, me. At the time, a five foot girl whose parents would literally have locked her away if she had even had the remote thought of shoplifting. But no, that sales woman could never know that. She could just assume. And we all know what happens when you assume…

And what she assumed was that I wasn’t in that store for a day of shopping, I was in that store for a day of shoplifting. Her assumption was based on two things: as I said, my skin tone, and two, the fact that I was picking up the TESTER bottle of that enchanting perfume because hey, I felt like having some goddamn unicorns and fairies follow me around for the duration of my excursion at the mall.

So once this woman who probably didn’t know her ass from her elbow saw me with the bottle, it was game over. It was quite a Serengeti situation. She was the rabid lion, and I was the baby wildebeest. She charged through the clothing racks while I prepared to have my throat ripped open.

Instead, she decided to jump down my throat and got straight to her accusation: “Ma’am, what exactly do you think you’re doing with that?”

First of all, ma’am? Lady, do I look like I’m over the age of forty? She was so close to my face that I could see the color of the gum she was so politely smacking, and a hint of her deep red lipstick on her two front teeth. “Umm…I’m just testing out this perfume,” I mumbled. But before I could even place the bottle back on the shelf, she had snatched it right out of my hand – her French manicured faux claws nearly leaving my knuckles bloodied. I had only two thoughts at that moment: one, I did not come here to participate in Fight Club, and two, but hey, if that’s what she wants, come at me – Brad Pitt taught me everything I know.

“Stealing is illegal, ya know?” Even her voice had an air of snobby to it. “No shit,” I replied. It was all I could do not to laugh. This poor, unfortunate soul – I almost felt sorry for her. Her job was to ensure that little 14-year-olds like me don’t escape without paying for their perfume first. The last thing I told her before walking straight out of the store was this: “Ma’am, if I was going to steal that perfume, I sure as hell wouldn’t be stealing the tester bottle. I would be a better kleptomaniac than that. I would get my money’s worth and take one of the brand new bottles stacked right behind it.”

Needless to say, my fashion sense has improved since then and hopefully her detective work, as well as her application of makeup, has too.


  1. This made me cry and grandchildren would be a blessing

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