I was in you a bunch over the last couple of days,
shopping for a dress to wear
to a grown-up affair
Before you ask,
I didn't find one.
I'm pulling out the old reliable
from the back of the closet
but that dress killed
at junior prom
so I'm not worried.
(You were right, Delia*s.
Metallic purple IS forever.)
But while I was in you, Stores,
I had some thoughts.
Not all of them were crying thoughts,
but I wanted to share a few ideas
open up a dialogue, perhaps,
so that we can all feel...
what's the word...
not fucking miserable
when we have the opportunity
when enough time has passed
that I've forgotten
So, here is a smattering of reflections,
from a shopper who:
a) wanted to buy things
b) brought money to buy things
c) bought no things
two days in a row.
1. Viva La Revolucion
Let's get this out of the way immediately. Please Google "fitting room lighting" and listen to the people. The people will not stand idly by, swallowing the cruel debasement and tyranny of your cellulighting. Soon there will be an uprising, and you will know the day of reckoning is upon you when the people arrive in your stores bearing baseball bats and singing, at the tops of their lungs, the score from Les Miserables, which is only appropriate because the last time I popped into a blue-lit fitting room with white jeans and a prayer, the manager had to come drag me out as I trembled and whisper-sang,
I dreamed a dream of time gone byyyy
when hope was high and life worth living...
2. Said No One, Ever
Remember when everyone was like "I love the shopping experience at Abercrombie and Fitch! It's so dark and crowded and loud and pungent. It makes me think of slave ships and sex dungeons. God, I want a rugby shirt with a moose on it."
Oh, you don't remember that?
Then turn on the fucking lights, turn down the fucking music, and put down the cologne, Capitan.
3. It Really Gets Me In the Mood To Try On Espadrilles Though
Speaking of music, we are living in a post-Columbine, post-Sandy Hook, post-Virginia Tech, post-Aurora Movie Theater, post-Paris, post-San Bernadino, post-Fort Hood America. People get shot everywhere. I've never claimed to be anything but a little on the nutty side, but as soon as I go into a store, I always check to see where the back door is, as I was advised by a very informative article about how to survive a shooting spree.
Please do not play songs that have gunshot sounds in them.
I wasn't the only one who dropped my handbag.
4. This One's About Me, Though
It's easy to be a medium in an XS-XL world. You're a middler, average, not so thin the other girls at yoga won't make eye contact. Not so thick that the other girls at Whole Foods think you're shopping there for the first time. Medium is a solid place to be - a place where carrots are both sticks and cake. You're a Schumer, and it's good to be a motherfucking Schumer. Sure, in the wrong pants you have to hide from people who want to take pictures for their Wal-Mart blogs, but in the right dress you've got curves for days and let's be real, you look just fine naked.
But lately the cool stores have been adding a new size... XXS. And SOME OF THEM, the really fucking mean ones, have even added XXXS. And it's not vanity sizing - that's a true XXXS. The pants would be snug on Buster.
When I flip through a neatly sized rack of shirts whose hems stair-step down, I reach for the middling one, pull it out, and immediately make a note to burn this place to the motherfucking ground because the middle shirt is an XS. My medium looks like a bath towel. I can practically hear the Cambodian factory workers tsk-ing at the waste of fabric - "we could make seven regular-person shirts with this!" I imagine that on Friday afternoons when things get silly, they see how many people can fit into a shirt that, actually, is still a little tight across my shoulders.
It's hard to be a medium when the world starts at XXXS.
Think of me as a movie theater soda. When I say "I'm a medium," I'm thinking of the reasonable, 1960's-era medium - 12 ounces, maybe. Enough to wet your whistle without bursting your bladder.
The thing is, when I say "I'm a medium," in a world that starts at XXXS, I feel like the 42-ounce counter-cracking Wal-Mart trough that comes with its own titanium-reinforced wheely-cart so you can get it into the theater without rupturing a disc.
5. Are You There, Suzanne? It's Me, Katie.
Because You're in A Fitting Room With A Shirt That Almost Works But You'd Like To Try The 8 Just For Comparison
And When Suzanne Let You Into That Room She Said
"Just Let Me Know If You Need Anything!"
She Immediately Moved To India To Live Her Truth Among The Elephants.
6. Feast or Famine
Remember how I was raving about how nice it was to be a medium? There's a beauty in the balance between clean lines and lush curves; there's a peace in a place that boasts bounty and space.
Okay, so that. But with your merchandise, please.
It seems to me, Stores, that you either have four items in your 10,000-square-foot space, or you have 10,000 items in your four-square-foot space.
Side note: How do any of you museum-curated sparsity boutiques stay in business? You're selling one black shirt and a jumpsuit? At least you save time on inventory.
Manager: It's time to take inventory!
(points at shirt)
(points at jumpsuit)
(double-checks that she is holding up two fingers)
Alright! Good inventory, guys!
Side Note Part Deux: How do any of you clearing-house warehouses stay in business? Your store looks like my closet in high school after I tried to get dressed for a date. Or, if I'm being brutally honest, my bed on laundry day, after I have washed and dried all of the clothes and put them on the bed and sang out to the world "I have finished the laundry!" Because of course I'll just fold them "later," even though we all know that "later" will never come and the clothes will simply move from the bed to the floor to the bed to the floor, being slowly whittled down as we throw armloads of cottons and polys around to dress ourselves day by day until it's all dirty again and I clap my hands and say, "today I'm going to finish all the laundry!"
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Me: Do you have this pant in any other colors?
Salesperson: Listen, lady, I didn't even know we sold pants.
Me: Isn't this store called... Pants?
Salesperson: Do you have a problem?
Me: No, it's just, if you don't really sell pants then why is the store called Pants?
Salesperson: I didn't name the store.
Me: No, of course, but I just--
Salesperson: -- it's not sunny. Why do you have sunglasses on your head?
Me: I... My hair...
Salesperson: Nice yoga leggings. Did you just leave an 11 am vinyasa flow?
Me: no... I just... Felt bloated today...
Salesperson: WELL WHAT DO YOU KNOW. Looks like we're not the only ones who lie in our advertising.
Okay Stores. My kids woke up so I've gotta go tend to their futures. Because that's what I'm doing. Contributing with my service to the welfare and happiness of others.
Think about it.