Quick! If I say the words "Fashion Island" to you...what comes to mind? A land mass surrounded by water on all sides--where the trees have giant metal-scissor trunks and leaves made of plaid fabric scraps? A television show about a hard-to-reach sweatshop prison run by a tall, tan Eurotrash fella with a midget sidekick that screams about planes? A fraud university in Barbados where bikini-top/pencil skirt bottomed Senators' daughters with undiagnosed dyslexia "earn" a diploma in design by sketching clothes for American Girl Dolls?
I'll stop there; because it is none of those things. Everyone knows Fashion Island* is, in actuality--a paved, outdoor paradise: lined with the best-of-the-best stores, koi ponds, and building obstructed ocean views. And it was here, buddies, that I found myself just the other day. Aimlessly wandering in an empty-wallet stupor through a maze of fancy-fance. Verbally scorning everything I saw, and internally aching to own it all.
I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning...
Upon arrival, I caught a glimpse of a hidden, little mom and pop cafe. It seemed like a popular place with the locals, and after perusing the menu I realized it had the most unbelievable selection of international delicacies and homemade confection items and was definitely worth a try. I was right! Each bite was more delicious than the last. It was simply to die for. "Isn't this delightful, everyone?!" ("Everyone" was me, my husband and the baby.) Everyone agreed. "We simply must remember this place. Which one of you has a pen?" The baby didn't have one. Neither did my husband, but the sweet waiter did. (he was probably the owner's son. It was that kind of place.) "I simply have to write down the name so we will never forget." Since we had no paper, I used the next best thing. My own skin. We got up to leave, very satisfied with our light, tasty snack. And after taking a moment to position our waistband extenders and bigger size diapers, we were off for a day of shopping-- the baby in her stroller, my husband in his sunglasses, and me with the words Cheesecake Factory scrawled across my forearm.
After passing a store selling wooden toys that made the baby yawn, and a boutique full of golf shirts featuring whales where a polo player should be (whales are the new polo player, one might say); we came to an inbred puppy shop that also sold "exotic pets." I peered in the window wondering just what these exotic pets could be. I saw what I assumed to be an iguana, a small shark and an eel. "An eel?? How fancy! And gross." Sometimes the two go hand in hand I guess. "Right, everybody?" The everybodys didn't hear me. They were too busy looking at a couple of cats with leopard spots that were licking each others' butts. Ah see! Fancy AND gross! I had this place pegged.
Speaking of fancy and gross...after we left the puppy mill showroom, we reached the koi pond. This koi pond was a pleasant touch to the shopping experience. It added a zen quality to the otherwise hustley/bustley stress that comes with a big day of magnetic strip swiping. It was nice to see so many people relaxing around the pond, yapping into their cell phones and using three or four chairs to hold their bags. And the fish looked happy and well taken care of--no doubt completely unappreciative that they had such an easy-breezy life as big fish in this pretty little pond. And completely unaware that they were once a mere net away from remaining in a cool Japanese spring with the rest of their fish family, leading a normal, simple and unnoticed existence forever. I crouched down, dangerously close to the (ew!) mossy water. I gazed into the eyes of one all-white coy, and started to say something to it out loud. Something a total dork would say. Something like: "hey there, little buddy," or something like that. But just as my tongue started to form the phrase, a plastic spoon floated by--obscuring my view of the white fish and scaring him away. The spoon was recognizable, and shifted my thoughts immediately. "Oh cool, there's a Pinkberry here."
We continued to walk and look. Never going in anywhere. We passed purses, scarves, shoes, green mannequins, makeup...wait. Back up. GREEN MANNEQUINS?? Good God. Anyway, what was I saying...oh yeah, we passed stuff. It was all unmemorable and made of leather. Until we came to one particular little gem. There, prominently placed in the front window of a knickknack boutique, was a lovely item--on display for all to see. It was a tiny pillow, featuring some stunning needlepoint handiwork that read, "Nothing Tastes as Good as Skinny Feels." All the everyones in attendance stopped dead in our tracks to absorb the glory of the item before us. Even the baby dropped her jaw in amazement. I felt my heavy, cheesecake-stuffed belly gurgle a sound that I'm pretty sure was, "Yep". And my belly was right! What wise, wise advice from such a tiny pillow! I'd like to thank the man who thought to immortalize these words in thread on a tiny, portable pillow! How innovative! This is the perfect item for the girl with a tiny head who has everything; everything, that is, except a tiny pillow where she can rest her tiny head and dream tiny dreams about the tiny portions of things she will never eat. Everyone should have one. Everyone! But alas, not me. Not today. We will have to come back for it another time. When I have my tiny chainsaw with me.
We meandered for what seemed like hours before I finally got the gumption to enter an establishment. "Let's go in here!" I told everyone. "Look everyone! Look at that couch!" The couch I was referring to was a long leather-buttoned beauty that I peeped in the very back of an oddball furniture store. "This way everyone!" Everyone followed, and we hesitantly made our way through the marble-jackrabbit statue section and past the mirror-ball beanbag aisle. And then -- there was the couch. Oh man! It was so good. SOOO good. Everyone agreed. And so...with complete confidence that someday soon I would own the item and thus needed to know the cost; I tenderly reached for the price tag and looked at the numbers on it. I then tenderly put it down. "I've changed my mind, everyone. The couch is not right for us. For one thing, how would we ever get the chip crumbs out of those button holes?!!" Sure, maybe somewhere on this Island they sell a sucking machine with a tiny couch-button-indent-cleaning attachment; but if we got one of those where would we put it? Our sucking machine cabinet was already overstuffed. Also, the creaky futon with flattened cushion that we currently possess is nice, and frankly I would miss it if we replaced it with something soft. And comfortable.
The day was winding to an end and the sun was, I assume, going down over the nearby ocean. (We would have been able to see it but Bloomingdale's was in the way.) I gave in to the idea that my money would not be useful at this place. Because the currency of Fashion Island has more zeros on it than mine does. Also, we didn't have a need for any jade-egg necklaces or snakeskin fedoras.
But never fear! This story doesn't end sadly! We did NOT come away empty-handed, no siree! On the way back to our shiny Buick, I got myself a name brand soft pretzel. Auntie Anne's to be exact. With cheese!
Y'know to be honest...I can't quite remember what skinny feels like. But that pretzel tasted f%#king good.
* For all you Nor/SoCalies who don't dare venture below Redondo; and for all you So/NorCalies who don't care what happens anywhere that doesn't have a bay nearby; and for all you Nor/NorCalies who live in the woods sustaining yourself only on berries and worshiping magical pixies; and for all you So/SoCalies who could trip over their shoelace and fall into a Tijuana scorpion belt buckle store -- Fashion Island is an outdoor mall in Orange County. And don't feel bad if you haven't been there. It is not as cool as I make it sound in this blog post.