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I have a children's clothing shop near my apartment. Wait, I have about 300 shops dedicated to children right near my apartment. The whole neighborhood is actually a baby settlement for aging liberals who carry their groceries in recyclable cardboard boxes, shop enthusiastically for beeswax candles and regularly curse the absence of an I.R.S. Records boxed set. In short, I love it. I love it because, besides being absolutely bucolic at times, it presents no contribution whatsoever to my problematic self-consciousness. You are never reviled for hopping out of bed, sleep crust in the corners of your eyes, and heading outside in a sweatshirt and jeans to grab a cup of chai or a new potpourri basket from the area's newest boutique, Something Wicker This Way Comes. This may sound like a ridiculous point of praise to most people living outside of NYC, but just try living in Williamsburg, where leather pants, wristbands, and post-coital tousled hair are still required uniform for an early morning cat food run.

So, yes, I have many children's clothing shops in my neighborhood. But one in particular gets it all wrong. It's incredible, actually, how wrong they get it. From their name, PEEK-A-BOO CLOTHING, which suggests something slightly more pornographic than it should, down to every last detail, this store does not understand its audience. The awning itself is a collection of violations of good taste. First of all, it's BLACK, which is everyone's least favorite baby color. But don't worry, because the lettering is pink. Well, not pink exactly. More like fuschia. And fuschia on black is a great combination if you're selling roller skates or dildos, but it doesn't do much to reflect the soft joy of a newborn child.

Between the name of the store and the colors of the sign, you're already sending out a mixed message. That confusion is only further agitated by the managerial decision to turn the "OO" of "boo" into a pair of leering eyes. Look once and you won't be wrong to ask yourself, "face or titties?" And that's not a good question to put in the mind of someone who might potentially want to buy some pull-ups or a onesie, unless it's for himself.

It gets even worse because the owners of the store, possibly in an effort to diffuse some of the ambiguity raised by its name and brand identity, also added a pair of silhouetted figures to the sign. Judging by the few details that the silhouettes reveal via clothing and hairstyle, the artwork must be clip art dated from the 1950s. It depicts, as far as I can tell, a girl in pigtails and party dress, age 4 or 5, backing into a small boy around the same age. The boy is pressed up against the girl closely, intimately, as if attempting to mount her from the rear. And I can honestly say, after showing the sign to several people, the inference is not mine; the implication is theirs. New parents and friends and families of new parents might approach this store and wonder, quite correctly, "are these guys trying to get my toddler laid?"

If you even get past the sign - and shame on you if you do - and let your eyes wander to the window display, you are in for another horrible shock. As PEEK-A-BOO CLOTHING got ready for autumn, they prepared a "Halloween Sale" and holiday-themed window display. I have no interest in ever opening a children's clothing store but if I did - really, if anyone without a total hatred for children did - and I wanted people to buy warm weather clothing or Halloween costumes for their new additions, I would borrow from a few fail-safe elements. Warm colors, gourds, silk leaves, trick or treat sacks, and the occasional baby mannequin dressed as something adorable, like a pumpkin or news anchor. This common sense somehow escaped the proprietors of PEEK-A-BOO. Instead, they filled the window with little baby mannequins in quilted jumpers, not unlike the kind worn by the evil spawn in Cronenberg's film, The Brood. But even if that's an obscure pop cultural reference that would be lost on most consumers, I don't think the other decoration would: the baby mannequins were covered in fake spiderwebs and plastic spiders. Covered. Head to toe, they were entangled in cobwebs, waiting to have their fluids extracted by some unseen super-spider. It's a really horrifying sight. So horrifying that it makes me wish I owned a digital camera so everyone could see as clearly as I do.

Addendum: Because I decided I needed my creative energy to be even more disposable, I recently procured a digital camera. This has meant many things - artsy, shaky, long shuttered shots; even more photos of my cats; a beard diary - but, to your benefit, it has meant I now have a dark, poorly composed photo of the Peek-a-Boo awning. Here:

erotica for toddlers

WE FIRST MET ON 11.04.2002

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