Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Torture by Shopping

I’ve been trying to find a dress for an event. Although I’m not much of a shopper, dress shopping has never been as bad as, say, swimsuit shopping. Or even finding the perfect pair of jeans. In fact, it used to rank almost on the “sort of funnish” end of the shopping scale. Used to.

Now it ranks somewhere down around getting a mammogram, except for that time I had the really bad tech who made me scream ow ow ow oh dear God stop stop stop NOOOO it won’t go any flatter because she obviously went to the mammogram school where the manual had been poorly translated from another language. Whereas in English, the manual reads, “Flatten to a pancake,” this woman’s manual said “Flatten to a crepe,” or maybe “Flatten to the thickness of a bubblegum bubble right before it bursts.” Because I seriously thought it might.

So dress shopping is now only slightly better than that and something I only resort to when absolutely mandatory. This time, though, I had two problems. At Store #1, where I usually have the best luck, there were large groups of teens looking for homecoming dresses. That was fine with me, though why they were shopping in MY area when they had their own is beyond me. Still, their ebullient personalities made me smile. That is, until I heard one of the girls crammed into the dressing room right next to mine whisper, “There’s no room in here—I’m going to find another room. Is there someone in the one next door, do you think?”

Her friend told her there was. Since I had by now figured she was referring to my room, and I was in almost the most serious state of undress achievable in a dressing room and with no time to struggle into something, I tried to make some noise—like clunking hangers around and clearing my throat.

It didn’t matter. I knew she would climb up and peek over. Knew it. I knew it because deep down, I knew that little teenaged girl. We all do. She was the girl your mother thought was a bad influence, the fun one in the crowd when she wasn’t embarrassing you, the one who probably should have been on A.D.D. meds even long before A.D.D. meds were invented. By this time I was shuffling and clunking and coughing like mad, but she was the kind of girl who pays absolutely no attention to such things. I had my back to her, but I could tell she’d peeked by the snorting and snickering and giggling that took place for a good five minutes. Thank heavens the mirror was on her side and I was facing away, because for all I know, I could have been her teacher.

At Store #2, I was blessedly alone. The only problem was, some of those dresses have a high spandex content and are surprisingly hard to get off. A couple of times I was so zipped up, tangled, or otherwise ensnared that panic set in. I was like a wild animal in a trap with fur flying. Claustrophobia hit and I struggled and perspired and hot flashed, then tried to calm myself down—which is not easy to do when you’re bent over with your arms pinned over your head, and your head partially stuck in an armhole—to think about how to escape from there. Chew my way out? It seemed like a distinct possibility when I’d think of the alternative—calling on the sales force to help extract me like a farmer trying to birth a hefty breach calf.

At Store #3, they had mirrors that reflect your backside, so I got a glimpse of what the climbing girl saw. Oh, horrors. I truly had no idea. I still feel so stricken, I’m not sure I can ever recover as long as that view is burned into my brain.

In the end, I walked out with a dress only because I’d realized nothing was going to look super cute, but I could, in fact, wear one that still managed to perform some optical illusions and hide that horrifying view that the teenaged girl saw. And as for the girl, I also decided the sight itself was suitable punishment, however cruel and unusual.

Lord Grantham: “They say there’s a wild man in all of us.”
Lady Violet: “Maybe, but if only he would stay inside.”
            ~Downton Abbey


  1. THE HORROR! My condolences on the violation of your privacy. And I'm mentally pronouncing it with the short "i" like the British, because that makes the intrusion seem all the more horrendous.

    I just had a flashback to the time the doctor was stitching me up after the birth of my first child, and my husband chose that moment to yank open the door for everyone in the waiting area to look deep into my inner being, as he paraded my mother and father into the delivery room to see the baby.

  2. Oh, how truly dreadful. Lady Violet and I feel your pain.

  3. Tammy, I'm right there with you when it comes to shopping... with anything! I've panicked a few times when I couldn't untangle myself out of an outfit. It really is frightening wondering what will become of you when you scream, "HELP!!!" It's always best to shop with a friend, just for that very fact.

    1. Good idea, Lynn. And a friend would help eliminate any peeking teens, too....

  4. Omigawd, the claustrophobia. I know, I know, I know.
    I hate shopping for that same reason. I need to go shopping this week, but only for new bedroom slippers. How much can that hurt?
    Meanwhile, I feel your pain. I'd say the same for Val, but I'm childless.

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  6. Good luck, Kay. At least bedroom slippers usually don't ensnare unsuspecting shoppers!

  7. Can't stop laughing. Your mammogram tech went to the Marquis de Sade school of mammography. So sorry for you, happy for me, 'cause that cracked me up. I don't like shopping anymore either. Menopause has taken my cute figure and turned it into something . . . er . . . decidedly different (that's diplomatic, right? Right?).

    1. Right. You are very diplomatic, Lisa! Marquis de Sade school...hee hee!

  8. I used to be able to pick up an article of clothing in "my size" and not even try it on. Not a good idea now, since my size fluctuates from day to day and from manufacturer to manufacturer. Then there's trying things on. It's become an exercise in attempting to select the least terrible option.

    Critter Alley

  9. One part of this post is funnier than the next. I am hooting over here.

  10. Thanks, Linda! Hope that means something good came of the experience.


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