>>> The Rollercoaster of Drama
By staff writer Simonne Cullen
October 24, 2004

Last night here was the 80's party, but for all realistic purposes it was like an early Halloween. Now I know small schools usually lack in the school spirit department (students don't tend to dress up for theme parties unless it's pimp and hoes), but last night, frizzy curls, neon pink lipstick, and leg warmers came out of the woodwork. In all my years I hadn't seen this much 80's flare since…well, since the slap bracelets and acid wash jeans of 1989. Even guys were dazzling in their MC Hammer pants, tight jogging suits, and hair band leaders. Disappointingly, there was no team of Miami Vice. White jacket, pink shirt, tapered jeans complete with the badge necklace…what the hell? Was Don Johnson not a major 80's idol? There's a crowd of mid-forty Wall Street types that agree with me.

Anyway, to get from 2K4 to early Madonna there needed to be some serious shopping involved. So Olia (my Belarusian roommate), Anilu (my sorority sister from Peru), and myself piled into the car and headed down to Good Will (note that both these girls have incredibly thick accents which will come into play later…so you can just verbally imagine the drama and confusion). We not only purchased some quality 80's gear, but our friends' Christmas presents as well. Some people would call it thrift store crap—I call it early deconstructive American antiques. Is that fringe on that lamp? Why yes it is. Hand woven and attached with a glue gun. Dates back to early 1975. Very classy indeed.

To finish up our ensembles—which, might I add, I am damn proud of—I was Jennifer Beals from Flashdance, complete with a water-soaked gray sweatshirt for sweat. Olia was rock star Barbie and our other roommate Andrea was Barbie's friend Teresa. And Anilu, who I will refer to as Peru for the rest of this article, was Helen Hunt from Girls Just Want to Have Fun. Eventually we had to move on to the mall because let's face it, no one is going to wear pantyhose from Good Will. So we headed over to Target and that's pretty much where the natural disaster began. The weather, not our outfits.

There we are debating whether to purchase pink or green or yellow neon tights when rain suddenly began barreling onto the metal roof. We thought nothing of it. It rains in Peru, Belarus, and Chicago all the time. No big deal. Then over the loud speaker a woman's voice crackled with panic, but we couldn't make out any words. Suddenly, all of the Target employees began ushering us to the back of the store as if they were calming down a potential riot in the men's clothing section. “Please move to the corner of the store, there is a tornado warning in effect. You don't have to stay here but if you do you must move to the back corner of the store away from the highway and electronics section. 10/4 over. Roger, we have confirmation let's move everyone into the Clearance Section so we can get rid of that Easter overstock already.” That's when I realized maybe our safety wasn't their first priority.

It was evident that our safety was not Anilu's first priority either. Instead of going to the back of the store she headed of towards the shoe section. “Umm, Anilu? I think we better go to the back of the store.” “It's not a big deal. In Peru we have terrorists. I am not scared of tornados.” (Like I said before imagine the accent.) So she deliberated in the shoe aisle for several minutes, but that didn't keep her Peruvian attention for very long. Meanwhile, I am freaking out boy band fan style. I always imagined my death would come to me when I was in my 70's in some Valium-induced coma, not in the middle of the plus-sized women's section of a Target store in central Wisconsin. All I could imagine was twisted steel, metal roof collapsing, babies screaming for their mommy. So I immediately went into survival mode and remembered what Helen Hunt did in Twister: attached herself to a drain pipe with a leather belt. I eyed the men's belt section. Good, now all I need was a drain pipe. But then I realized we lost Peru…again.

After screaming “Anilu” repeatedly for what seemed like an hour, but was really 30 seconds, Olia and I spotted her. She was being escorted back into the safety zone by a Target regulator. “We found this one trying to head into the make-up section. Keep and eye on her.” Then the employee turned around to try and lasso up an older couple who was straying from the herd. “Anilu, let's just look at the clothes okay, I'm calling Andrea right now to find out more about the tornado—omigod are those sirens?!?!” But she was already gone, heading straight for the Halloween section. Helen Hunt would not be pleased.

She emerged again with two more Target representatives, but this time she had a look of triumph on her face. In her hands she held up two Halloween costumes, children-sized of course, because she's that petite. A devil costume in one hand and a pirate in the other. “Anilu, I'm worried that the sirens going off means there's a tornado touching down somewhere near here.” Her response, “Do you like dis one or di pirate? I don't have the boots for the pirate and I like di devil ear ting. I can't decide.” And by devil ears she meant horns. And by tornado she thought I meant butterflies. There was a serious language barrier here.

She began to take off again and Olia and I followed. By this time Target employees were tired of us and the rest of the shoppers jeopardizing our own safety, so a booming voice screamed at us over the PA to get into the back of the store. I added miserably, “Because if you don't we're all going to die from the tornado!!” After that several small children began crying, and I decided to keep my mouth shut the rest of the quarantined period. Now I was the devil.

We're walking towards the back for the fifth time when Anilu spotted the Hello Kitty aisle and tried to take off like a superhero preparing for flight. Then we convinced her to go try on the costumes in the fitting room, which were in the back of the store and open for use. We can't go to the make up section, but we can still try on your clothes. Very logical indeed.

So we reached the fitting room, only to discover that was where all the mommies had set up camp with their strollers and crashed on the floor. Olia and I sat down next to an older lady and waited for Anilu to try on her selected costumes. She chatted with us, told me not to worry, and then told us that she was in a sorority too, but ran away with her boyfriend and got married after three months. They've been married for forty-two years. Then she asked the two of us if we had boyfriends and we replied, “No, we've been single for forty-two months.” That moment was right around the time Anilu got hungry and opened up a can of Pringles she had snatched right before she was escorted out of the make up section. So there we sat, munching on chips with our new friend, examining romances past and present in our moment of casual impending doom. So much for my drain pipe attachment plan. Sour cream and onion never tasted so good…especially when it might be your last meal.

Eventually the sirens turned off, and everyone was told they could leave. Anilu raced to the checkout counter and was first in line to buy her items. Peruvians run pretty fast, let me tell you. All this for legwarmers and neon tights. I've never felt so 80's in my life. After that it was goodbye Helen Hunt Twister, hello Helen Hunt Girls Just Want To Have Fun.

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