A Belated Birthday Celebration Involving Second-Hand Clothes, a Stoned Clerk Named Ryan, and Several Doggies

Celebrating your birthday after the fact can be glorious for the simple fact that it usually involves mother’s guilt. And mother’s guilt is a powerful force to behold.

So it was that after my week-long convalescence – a week where no celebration, nay, no smiles, were deemed possible – Daughter was treated to a Belated Birthday Celebration which included a trip to our favorite consignment shop, stopping at our favorite coffee/sandwich shop where our clerk may or may not have been stoned, eating lunch with five pooches, one of whom wore a tutu, and arriving back home at that perfect moment when you know — when there is no doubt — that magic is real.

The day was a beautiful one. Before we left, Daughter held up two CDs for review. She always lets me choose our travel music. I’ve yet to come across a CD of hers I don’t like, as her music leans toward alternative and quirky, and that suits me. I point at one: “Tallahassee” by The Mountain Goats.

“Good choice,” she says. Three songs later, we’re at the consignment shop, A Second Look.

I love this place. Just about everything you can think of is at this store: clothing, jewelry, housewares, home furnishings, electronics… I once bought a pink-checkered chicken at this place. I didn’t know I needed a pink-checkered chicken until I found it there. That’s how great this store is.

Pink checkered chicken

Another great thing: the longer items are there, the deeper their discount. Big signs throughout the store give you the day’s sale:

Items Dated before 1/28: 25% off
Items Dated before 1/4: 50% off
Items Dated before 12/21: 75% off

Sometimes you get lucky and find several “must-haves” at a deep discount. Other times you find squat. But it’s the thrill of the hunt, that what matters. That’s why you go.

For this trip, Daughter only found one item she could not live without, but oh what a find: a metallic snakeskin print scarf!

As for me, I found two cropped pants that fit me perfectly, even though they were mislabeled as “6” when I’m clearly still a “4” (*yesIamsoshutup*). I also found two lovely comfy shirts, perfect for lounging around the house in the evening sans bra. You can never have too many of those.

Our purchases competed, it was time for lunch. Fortunately we didn’t have far to go, because our favorite lunch spot is right in front of A Second Look. It’s called 32nd Shea, because it’s on the corner of 32nd Street & Shea. Clever, right?

And get this: it’s in a remodeled Fotomat. Remember those old drive-thru spots where they’d develop your pictures? That’s where this place is.

32nd Shea

You place your order at the register, a huge chalkboard above displays the menu. Ryan takes our order. He’s leaning on the counter at an angle, typing everything we say onto the screen. With each item he says, “You got it.”

“We’re gonna split the Veggie-Tarian sandwich.”
“You got it.”
Daughter adds, “I’ll have a tall iced coffee with rosemary syrup honey.”
“You got it.”
I say, “And I’ll have a large tropical iced green tea.”
“You got it. Do you want soup or chips with the sandwich?”
“Um…” We look at each other, Daughter shrugs, I say, “Chips.”
“You got it. Do you wanna eat outside or in?”
“Outside.”
“You got it. Remind me of your name again?”
“Christi.”
“Christi. You got it.”

We find a table on the patio and take our seats. Daughter comments on Ryan. “I love him,” she says. “He was so tired he could barely stand up straight.”

“I thought he was stoned,” I say.

“Even better,” she decides. “And I love how he says, ‘remind me of your name.’ I bet he says that to every customer. Remind me of your name? We’ve never met, good sir!”

She decides to write a short skit for her play-writing class featuring Ryan, the stoned sandwich shop clerk. As she makes notes on her phone, I survey the other customers on the patio. It’s a full house, people and pooches alike.

Forgot to mention: 32nd Shea is dog-friendly.

We dined with no less than five pooches: a German Shepherd behind me, a Golden Retriever to my left, a Mixed Breed with a worried expression, a Shih Tzu in a Tutu, and on my right was one of those dogs with the long ass name. The King Charles Cavalier Bowling on the Green Spaniel (or something like that).

Behind Daughter, the group with Worried Mutt was involved in some sort of project. They took up two tables: a tall long table where they sat, as well as a short round one where they piled all their magazines. For they had heaps and heaps of magazines.

Patio at 32nd Shea

There were about four or five women at the long table. Really I’m not sure how many because people were wandering to and fro with abandon. In amongst their cups of coffee and lunch orders were glue sticks, poster board, construction paper, and other arts and crafts paraphernalia. I’ve no idea what they were doing, but it seemed to be causing great stress for their Worried Mutt.

Do you suppose they were doing it wrong? Or maybe they were going about it too slowly, and Worried Mutt feared they’d be late for their afternoon crochet lesson? Honestly, it was so hard to tell, and sadly, I did not get a chance to interview the dog and find out.

And while it could have been my imagination, the Golden Retriever seemed concerned on Worried Mutt’s behalf too. Though that’s just the way of Goldens. They are a caring breed, taking the whole world on their shoulders, trying so hard to alleviate our burden. I happen to know our current political divisions trouble Goldens excessively. They are doing all they can to help, wagging their tails so energetically, but look deep into their caring eyes and you’ll see. They are troubled.

One breed you will never find troubled, not one iota troubled, is the King Charles of Upper Bucklebury and Bob’s Your Uncle Spaniel. I swear, the pooch who was dining on my right could barely make the effort to raise his head, much less worry over our sad political state. And why should he? His companion, a woman who exuded wealth from every pore, kept him on her lap the entire time and only stopped patting him long enough to offer him a morsel from her BLT. I’m telling ya, that dog’s got it good.

Meanwhile, the Shih Tzu in the Tutu made its way through the lunch crowd, visiting table after table, acting with great certainty that all would be charmed by their presence. For indeed, we were.

Its person, an older woman wearing a fanny pack (Daughter says all owners of Shih Tzus are old; it’s like a law) referred to the dog in the third person: “Do we want to say hello to the people? Let’s say hello!”

So they did. They said hello.

Dog wearing tutu

I said hello back. It was the polite thing to do.

The only one who seemed displeased by the Shih Tzu in the Tutu was the German Shepherd. It was… how shall I put it?… it was as though he considered it a personal affront that there should even be a Shih Tzu in a Tutu. He maintained his dignity, of course. Was careful not to show the slightest amount of agitation. But even so. You could tell.

Our sandwich was wonderful, by the way, as were the drinks. We lingered as long as we could. Honestly, I was hoping an unveiling of the arts and crafts project was imminent, but alas, it was not to be. On our way home we made two stops, one to pick up the necessary ingredients for strawberry shortcake, and the other to pick up dry cleaning (hey, it was just one block over, okay?).

And now we come to the most special event of the day — in point of fact, it is the entire purpose of my writing — when we pulled into the driveway and I shut off the car.

You know how it is when the song you’re listening to ends at the exact moment your ride is over? You put the car in park and… duuummmm… the song ends? It feels like you’ve attained perfection. As though everything came into place and magic is in the air. Well, that’s the way it was for us, only it was the last note of the last song on the whole CD!

Total MAGIC!

It exists people, it really exists! All you have to do is look around and view the world with fresh eyes.

And maybe look into the eyes of a Golden Retriever while you’re at it. Lord knows it can’t hurt.

Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 3.25.34 PM.pngNote: No Goldens were troubled in the making of this blog post.

Author: CJ Hartwell

Christi lives in Phoenix with Husband, Son, Daughter, and Dog. She enjoys moonlit walks on the beach, but as she doesn't live anywhere near a beach, she's usually in bed by 9:30.

29 thoughts on “A Belated Birthday Celebration Involving Second-Hand Clothes, a Stoned Clerk Named Ryan, and Several Doggies”

  1. Sounds like a fun day. I love finding good secondhand stuff, and who could resist that chicken? I also love the little dog in tutu. Good for you and the magic cd too.

    Oh, and I worked in a Fotomat kiosk way back when! I loved it since it meant no fuss much of the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really, you worked at a Fotomat? Ah, I miss those places! In truth, I miss that whole aspect of handing over a roll of film, wondering how many pictures would develop, feeling dang lucky if I got half (I was always a lousy photographer!).

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard of cat cafes and always wanted to visit one, but sadly there are none in Phoenix. The ones I read about are places where all the cats are available for adoption. Wouldn’t that be great? Stop in for a bite of lunch, come home with a kitty.
      I suppose you wouldn’t want to go too often. 🐱

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, what an amazing day to be had by all. And it all ends with the last note’s to the song playing. Ah…….. a little means so much when its in the spirit of it all…

    Ever to my surprise or maybe not, you talked about God’s perfect creation, the Golden Retriever… nothing but pure love. My last golden (Zach) died about 4 years ago and I still miss him. I did a blog post on him, I’ll look it up and send it.

    Anyway, glad you had such a wonderful day… jc

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never been so fortunate as to own a Golden Retriever, but one day I’m sure it will come to pass. They melt my heart every time.
      We did have a fun time, and the musical ending? Gave it the perfect note. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Boohah! That was a day of days and I am envious in an entirely benign way. Good things shall come for the righteous and those that accept that mislabeled pants that fit perfectly are manna from Heaven even though the celestial are a little haphazard with their sizing. Too much lovely for me to pick what to pinpoint (though Ryan has my vote too and I would love to read your daughter’s play when it is penned) so I’m going for the Upper Bucklebury in relation to the Kings Charles Spaniel angle. This is because Bucklebury was a village near where I grew up with a wonderful huge wooded common that we used to walk in. Much later my sister-in-law would teach a child from that place at the snooty Prep school she taught in. That child grew up to marry Prince William, heir to the throne of England (after the Queen and Prince Charles pass on) …. that dog name just spoke volumes to me – it threw me back years to and England I have long left and reminded me of days with my own mother. Happy happy days. Words, you see. So powerful in the hands of a skilled writer. Which you are. Very.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow, that must be why Upper Bucklebury called out to me in the writing of this post! It’s too perfect for words!
      Seriously woman, your near misses of direct contact with notable personalities impresses me to no end. I love them even more because they’re near misses, and that’s the truth.
      I had to do a Google image search of Upper Bucklebury and immediately fell in love with it. It looks like the kind of place they’d use for the filming of a Jane Austen novel. Please tell me you dressed and spoke like Miss Bennett as you walked the wooded common? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m thinking of writing a book called ‘Tenuous Celebrity Encounters … the journals of a woman and her nearly famous life’ …

        How did you know that I’m often to be found drifting serenely in empire line dresses of sprigged muslin and a fetching poke bonnet. Rather less romantically my daughters growl ‘MRS Bennett’ when I dare mention the notion that they might be ready for marriage 😉

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I was telling my second daughter the other day that when we moved my things to our Maison Carnage (read restoration project) in September from the flat I had previously lived in I said to my husband, with a poker face, that I thought I would like to bring my wedding dress back with me to the City. He nodded vaguely and murmured that Grenoble is rich in seamstresses who might enjoy helping me with ideas for altering it. ‘Oh, no’ I said – I thought I could wear it to promenade on warm evenings … it’s such a shame it only got used the once.’ His face was a perfect picture of masculine horror 😉

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Poor guy!
              You know, that would be a supremely wonderful prank, worthy of spreading on Facebook. Tell women to put on their wedding gowns and roam the streets on Halloween night. Imagine the horror of seeing all those women in white! 👰

              Liked by 1 person

  4. First, I must have the Checkered Chicken. Please don’t judge me too harshly if it vanishes from your environs.

    Secondly, how could you NOT march up to the Magazine People and demand an explanation? (In a polite manner, of course. No fisticuffs or drink-spilling.)

    Thirdly, I admire your ability to dine-out in a healthy and socially-responsible manner, with the vegetarian entree (shared!) and a nice tea. The last time I ate in public involved a grease-dripping hamburger (replete with fried-egg topper, just to reinforce the cholesterol violation), high-sodium fries, and a soda, bubbling with sucrose. (Said meal happened either three days back or twenty minutes ago, my cold meds aren’t sure.)

    Finally, you win the Great Mom Award. Now we just need to find someone who can arrange a proper ceremony wherein you are handed the glowing trophy just as the final song on the album ends…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Okay, first up, about the pink checkered chicken. I’m sad to say I am no longer in possession of it. When I first got it, it entered our family’s “white elephant” exchange at Christmas. For several years it changed hands, usually with a bottle of wine to lessen the blow, and whoever got it would display it in their house proudly until the next year. We had it a couple years in a row! Then one year it went to someone who liked it too much and we never saw it at the gift exchange again. Sad, but true.

      Secondly, I have to say I’m a bit embarrassed, but it honestly never occurred to me to ask the magazine women what they were doing. This is why I’m a lousy reporter. I just stay in my seat and wonder.

      Thirdly, as for the veggie sandwich, they have no burgers or fries on their menu, so greasy fare just wasn’t an option. But their tea really is marvelous. Really!

      Lastly… I’d like to thank all the little people…

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I absolutely love this post! In fact, I think it may be my favorite one yet. Sounds like a fabulous day with your daughter too. I love shopping at thrift stores myself, especially when there’s ample time and I have no particular item I’m looking for. It is so much fun when you find that oddball thing that you didn’t realize you actually needed-and then you get it cheap!

    Liked by 1 person

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