NBC … these three letters have several famous meanings but, to my sister and me, they mean Name Brand Clothing in Oklahoma City and also in Fort Worth. I honestly can’t remember how long they have been in business, but I would guess since the late 80’s. America’s finest department stores agreed to sell all their overstock, unsold, past season, returned, slightly damaged merchandise to NBC. This was before Ross or Marshalls or TJMaxx were up and running like they are now. You might say, pre-discount store days.
My mom and my sister and I were certainly among their first loyal customers during those early days. Some of my funniest memories are of my Mom, my sister and me meeting at NBC at straight up 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday mornings. This is the day they opened after restocking on Tuesday. We were right there standing, arms linked, ready to hold our ground against the eager crowd. This place was right up our alley — bargain shopping. The clock strikes 9:01, our hearts are racing, and our minds are imagining what lies on the other side of the doors this week? No one really knew, and that was the magic! Possibilities… It was the fact that you very well could find the needle in the haystack and, believe me; we were willing to dig for it. It was beautiful insanity.
If you got my whole family together we could tell some hilarious NBC stories that happened down through the years. It was more than shopping; it was an adventure with the unexpected.
I think the funniest story happened while I was there, unfortunately, by myself. I remember driving to the store and being worried about some things in my life. I was feeling a bit low as I entered the store by myself, missing my mom and sister. I couldn’t believe no one was there with me to experience this situation. I think it was meant all for me.
Allow me to set up the store for you. It was huge with racks of clothes as far as the eye could see, jammed beyond capacity. Their inventory was somewhat different each week but usually had a back table full of random items like belts, shower radios, jewelry, hats, makeup, toasters, hairdryers, backpacks, novelty toys, electric toothbrushes, and so on. They were all tangled and mixed together, making an interesting place for children, whose moms had drug them there, trying to find something to buy besides clothing.
The story opens with a Mother and her 4 young, happy, but loud children riding in her shaky shopping cart. I was browsing a few aisles over, but I could hear their conversation perfectly. Normally, it would be annoying, and I would have moved to the other end of the store to shop in peace and quiet, but this little family was just too interesting to leave. The youngest boy (at roughly age 5) was the loudest, without question, and his name got called the most … JD. Calvin was the brother, just a head taller than JD. I never heard the two girls names but mama kept calling for JD and Calvin, without looking up, making specific threats to stop their wild behavior as she shopped. The main source of contention was that she had promised them they could each pick out one thing to buy. The little girls were happy riding in the cart, after having found something pink and sparkly. The brothers were all over the place trying to beat the other in finding the best item.
After pilfering through the table of mixed up items, JD came up with an electric razor. The next thing I heard was the click and the unforgettable sound of that razor being fired up — UURRRR. Oh I was riveted at this point, and a bit terrified. Mama had moved on and left them at the table? Should I intervene? I decided to remain an observer. As I watched I could see it all happen in what seemed like slow motion. JD held that razor up to his face to pretend like he was shaving. Well, Calvin thought it was hilarious and they were both taking turns pretending to shave. They started fighting over that humming electric razor. The next thing I remember was looking up just in time to see Calvin shave off JD’s left eyebrow! The look of surprise on both of their faces (and mine) was priceless. It was immediately followed by knee slapping laughter as Calvin was doubled over pointing at JD as he turned off the noisy razor. JD was down on all fours screaming trying to find his eyebrow and gather what he could to press back into place, hoping they would stick back on. I just stood frozen. What would happen? This is when it began to get loud … and I do mean loud. JD started crying, “My eyebrow, my eyebrow is gone, just gone! MAMA! MAMA!”
I heard that shaky cart come rolling in fast as mama had arrived and accessed the situation. I think it was interesting that mama never said a word. Calvin laughed and JD cried, “What am I going to do now Mama? I only have one eyebrow! Ohhh my eyebrow, ohhh my eyebrow…” He grieved and cried over that lost eyebrow — I mean, who wouldn’t? I had moved my cart into the next aisle to keep from being a gawker. I had my ears tuned in to see how mama would resolve this situation. No words, just silence. Then, that unmistakable sound of the razor switching on again … UURRR. JD screamed, “No Mama, No Mama,” but as quick as it started it was over — she had shaved off his other eyebrow! JD wailed, “Oh my poor eyebrows, now I’m all bald on my face. Mama, why did you shave off my other eyebrow? It was my last one!” She let him grieve for a few minutes then she said, “Ok, it’s over now, pick out something and let’s go.” The little guy gathered himself and huffed around a few more minutes. Then, he said, “ I think I’ll pick this,” holding up the electric razor for spite. Mama snatched it away from him and grabbed the first thing her hand landed on — a floppy hat. She took it and pulled it down low onto his head and said, “There, now, let’s go.” JD ran to the mirror to check himself out. He started smiling, then dancing while admiring himself and said, “I look pretty good. I’ll take it!” Then just like that, the quirky family strolled to the front, paid and left.
I didn’t buy anything that day. I had a front row seat for the best show of the week. People are funny, to say the least. We are all just doing the best we can in this crazy thing we call life. Sometimes when you least expect it, you get your eyebrows shaved off! JD taught me something that day — live life passionately and watch the unexpected happen. Take a few minutes to grieve over the loss then pull down your floppy hat, smile, and start dancing. I had entered the store worrying about some circumstances in my life, but I left having forgotten what I was worried about … because I did, after all, leave with both of my eyebrows! And for that, I was thankful. It’s true — there is always something to be thankful for.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Live grateful and find the joy and laughter in the day.