After my shower I carefully blow dried my hair into shiny curves. I take time with my makeup, smoothing on concealer to cover the bluish shadows under each eye, patting on foundation with gentle fingers, brushing soft mineral powder. Mouth open, I swoop on mascara, brushing out the clumps, right eye staring back at me
It has been a year since I've seen her and I am going to be ready this time. Last August I had been caught unaware, unprepared for the inscrutable gaze, the cool appraising glance.
I dress thoughtfully, pulling on a slimming pair of long shorts and a blue shirt that fits perfectly. I buckle on sandals with heels, leaving my usual comfortable flats on the closet floor. Earrings, a simple necklace and I am ready.
An hour later I hand the armful of clothes to the dressing room attendant in Nordstrom's Rack. She is a study in black; black hair, eyeliner, leggings, mini, cardigan and boots. In a mood to match her outfit she counts and roughly thrusts my stack back at me. "Bring them back on hangers and don't forget your number".
I close the dressing room door and carefully hang each piece on a silver hook. I put down my purse and cross both arms to pull my blue shirt over my head, turning toward the mirror. The shirt rakes through my carefully casual hair. My upper arms tremble in the breeeze of the air conditioner as I meet her harsh gaze.
So, we meet again, my cool sphinx, my nemesis.
My beautiful blue shirt looks garish and cheap. My long slimming shorts seem to have inflated like a pool toy, wider than they are long. My carefully applied mascara has traveled south, racoonish circles smudged around bloodshot eyes. I smile weakly, shyly, trying to coax a little warmth from the silver surface. Her cold reflection only catalogues my failings, snaky blue veins crawling around my legs, pouchy, slouchy patches, wrinkles and shadows and dents and...
"Knock it off you freak!" I pull back on my pathetic outfit, grab my purse and fumble with the latch. As I rush past the black guard with earring in her nose she steps back without protest. Ha! I didn't even give her back her number. Take that bride of dracula!
Later, as I drown my sorrows in Jamba Juice I vow that it is really over this time. I am through with dressing room mirrors and leftover klieg lights from WWII interrogation rooms. I will no longer be pilloried on Nordstrom's rack.
From now on I'm shopping online.
4 hours ago