The summer after my freshman year of college I got a part-time internship and was in hot pursuit of a money-generating way to spend the remaining 20 professional hours of my week. The store where I’d worked in high school had gone out of business, so I went to the mall and applied at a bunch of stores. American Eagle called me back, interviewed me (using what still remains the fucking weirdest interview question I’ve ever gotten: a girl maybe eight weeks older than me holding out the pen she’d been using to jot things down on her clipboard and saying, “Okay, sell me this pen.”) and then hired me to start the next day. It felt great.
My training consisted of watching informational DVDs in the stock room and then going through a series of Flash questions about different denim washes and button styles. The best thing I learned during this process was “Katies and Brandons.”
American Eagle’s dream customers are named Katie and Brandon, and over the course of the DVD training period we learned a lot about them. Katie was a fun-lovin girl who enjoys hanging out with her friends and is down to try anything at least once. Brandon’s a chill guy who likes music and spending his free time with his boys. He’s active, but not like… jock active, necessarily. Just able-bodied.
At nineteen, and with no prior introduction to the disgusting worlds of marketing and advertising, Katies and Brandons were the most deeply funny thing I’d ever encountered. They were what people in 2013 call “basic bitches.” Just some white teens with brand new boobs and pubes who were “into culture” and “wanted to feel like they look good, but not be the hottest or most daring person at the party, necessarily.”
The job ended up not being right for me (for other reasons), and I left after my second shift, but Katies and Brandons stuck. When walking at night in the Union Square area, it’s not uncommon to see groups of Brandons four or five deep, an array of branded polo shirts in different colors, trying to find the bar that they Yelped.
Katies are often on the train together, and unable to believe the way that someone who isn’t present handled some situation over the weekend. Once, in a KMart, a nearby Katie held a fifteen minute, loud-as-fuck cellphone conversation about how she, “Doesn’t know why [some friend] showed up at the party, because she was not invited,” as she wove through the aisles and dropped items into her basket.
You know them when you see them.
Anyway, I bring all of this up because one of my bedroom walls is shared with the family room of a neighboring apartment, and for the past year I’ve been overhearing their conversations, videochats, and house parties.
They all speak to their parents often about cabinet size and how best to expedite the super’s delivery of a can of paint, are unable to walk well in heels, and feature Biggie heavily on their party playlists. They never keep me awake, and except for when I’m watching something on Netflix it’s unobtrusive noise, so I just listen and lol and go on with my day.
At a certain point, though, I realized that I could match their door number with the mailbox in the lobby and maybe get a little peek into their lives. Lo and behold: they were all Katies.
My updates to friends now became, “So The Katies had a real morning this morning…” and “One of The Katies can’t decide if she wants to go to grad school.” This has been a full calendar year of my life — me and The Katies.
And I bring all of this up because one of them (the loudest and most princessy) moved out this week, and last night, as I was checking my mail, I looked at their little name tag to find that she’d been replaced by a Brandon.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you this world isn’t beautiful.
They’re an idiot.