Saturday, September 09, 2006

Funny Money

My mother and her friends used to have an expression when discussing a particularly well-dressed or well-housed friend: "There's money somewhere."

It meant "We know this person. She does not have a well-paying job or a rich husband. But given her classy lifestyle, we must conclude she has a wealthy aunt or some other legacy hidden somewhere in her family tree."

"There's money somewhere" is the impression I have always attempted to convey. Okay, it's shallow. But it's fun. You'd be amazed how much mileage you can get out of a borrowed fur coat. I wore one to an inaugural ball once. They must have thought I was a donor.

On an apparently unrelated note (but stay with me, it all works out), my daughter started first grade this week. Last weekend I hauled her school uniform out of storage and ran it though the wash, etc. It's a cute little plaid jumper with a lot of navy blue and red. The women in the uniform shop told me it was the prettiest one they sold.

In my schooldays it was absolutely verboten to wear your uniform after school. You only had one, and you had to make it last-- not just for you but for the next two or three kids in the sibling line behind you. But times have changed, or so I've noticed. Many kids at my daughter's tiny Catholic school actually have more than one uniform to their name, and it's not unusual for the kids to go out shopping or running errands with their moms in all their plaid glory.

I have noticed, though, that there's an added benefit to taking Sophia out to the shopping mall in her school clothes. The sight of the uniform gives a lot of people. especially older women, a smile. "I hear plaid is in this fall!" one cheerful grandmotherly type said the other day. But more often I hear something like, "Look, honey- that little girl goes to Breck, too!"

Sophia's uniform, it turns out, is also worn by students at the Breck School, a private school here in the Twin Cities. The first few times I heard the comment I shook my head. "Holy Family," I murmured. But I've stopped doing that, ever since I found out how much dough it takes to send your kid to a place like Breck. Now I just smile and nod noncommitally. It's just too much fun to be taken for a woman with "money somewhere."

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go borrow a coat.

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