Plato’s Closet is a trip.
Sweat drips down my brow as I nervously approach the cashier at Plato’s Closet. With heavy bags in my hands, and even heavier ones under my eyes, I toss the items I had sifted through all night onto the counter, letting the teen working a job she hates intrude upon the most intimate moments of my life. The bell-bottom jeans I received my first kiss in, the spaghetti strap dress I wore when I graduated 8th grade – symbolic of the necessary steps it took to become the mature 22-year-old I am today. Without them, I feel my years slip away. The teen pops her gum, rifles through my bag and holds up a beer-stained mini skirt in disgust. I smile and make up an age for her in my head. 16. She’s definitely 16.
And I am definitely 21.
I find that with every article of clothing she takes, I am younger. Not only have my memories tied themselves to the heavy Old Navy bag I brought in, but my age has as well. She turns her attention from my black and white birthday cocktail dress to me, the woman slipping her $50 to get into the quarterback’s party next week. Confused, she responds by scooting pen and paper towards me. Intrigued, I respond by scooting her my fake ID, the best gift a 21-year-old can exchange for her unconditional acceptance.
20. I am definitely 20.
In a move I would deem as “totally not what popular kids in my day did,” the teen interrupts our back and forth by telling me what I’m doing is “illegal.” Luckily, I know “illegal” is code for “cool” and tell her to check the pockets of my Rasta Baja. She rolls her eyes and pulls out a massive bong from my hoodie, the sort of typical shit a 20-year-old would have on her at any minute.
19. I am definitely 19.
Considerably more upset than she was ten minutes ago, the teen tells me to write down my information so she can continue going through my clothes. Whatever, I get the whole “playing hard to get” thing. I quietly shuffle to the corner of the store to give her some time to process our relationship. Surely, it’s not everyday that she meets the levelheaded college girl who’s going to change her life forever.
I fill out my form with diligence, making sure I answer everything to the best of my abilities. Where I live, why I broke up with my boyfriend, how many times a day I cry because of it, things I feel comfortable disclosing to my new best friend. Most were simple and didn’t ask for such in-depth analysis, but I know she will be impressed when she sees “yeah, I smoke weed” underneath the question “Do any of these clothes have stains or otherwise questionable odors?”
Psh. Like she didn’t already know.
I return the form and she dismisses me to shop for the next half-hour as she processes my clothes. The part of me that loves spending my parents money picks up a long black dress while the part of me that’s self-conscious peaks at her from behind the clothing rack. Meeting my eyes, she intentionally pulls out the pair of jeans I received my first kiss in and cuts it down the middle, putting one leg on each of her arms. I gasp. Even at 19, I know this means war.
18. I am definitely 18.
If I wasn’t going to be a popular kid, nobody was.
Accepting defeat, I whip out my phone and immediately open Facebook. To take down the enemy, I need to play it cool. I crawl to the register, pop my head over the counter and sneak a glance at her name tag. Nancy. Knowing this is not enough to pick her out of a crowd of Internet Nancy’s, I look for other defining characteristics. It’s then that I see the color of her hair. Purple, just like the ruffled shirt of mine from sophomore year she put through the paper shredder earlier. Perfect. This 18-year-old now has enough information to release a full-fledged assault on Nancy the skank-slut’s social media.
16. I am definitely 16.
As not to obstruct customers, I sit beneath the shoe rack and scroll through Facebook for a bit before finding Nancy through a mutual friend. Too eager to wait for her response to my request, I get down to business. Cracking my knuckles, I make a Facebook event titled “Throw Darts at Nancy’s Homecoming Queen Photo.” Where? The Cafeteria. When? After 7th Period. Who? The whole school. Click. Just like that, everyone’s invited.
Next, I find Nancy’s Instagram. Normally, I would comment “fat” but since I am a mature 16-year-old, I decide this is beneath me. Besides, the Facebook event already destroyed her. This is just an extra treat for myself. I open her photos and comment “team Hufflepuff” on every one. Nancy’s phone beeps and I look up, taking in her face as it turns from apathetic to absolute horror. Crying, Nancy runs out from behind the counter and goes into the break room. My plan is working.
Unfortunately, there’s little time for celebration. As I curl over from laughter, expressing what little empathy I have as an adolescent teenager, the door to the store opens in a gust of furry. It’s at this same time my mom has decided to take note of her missing car. She finds me, grabs my ear, and uproots me from my noticeable hiding spot beneath the shoe rack. I try to defend myself as she yells at me about the “disturbing” call she just received from Nancy’s mom, but it’s no use. She says she wants me to apologize. What do I have to say sorry for? She started it.