Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dressing for Failure

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.

11 comments:

Pondside said...

Ah Laraine - big sympathy from up here. The one time I ventured into Nordstrom's on a trip to Seattle I was recognized immediately for the country bumpkin, no-makeup sad sack that I was (apparently) on that day. In a world of Real Women I was found lacking and couldn't get out of there quickly enough. Oddly, I recall that the place was full of very skinny, loud women with very skinny loud daughters - and they all had big hair, or painfully slicked-back chignons ...and there I was with my wash and wear bob. Not a Real Woman at all.

Anna M said...

Shopping online is the way of the future, and I am ahead of my time.

So what if it doesn't fit perfectly... it's perfectly fine enough.

And your knee shorts are always slimming! always

Sue said...

Okay, Laraine. That's it. This one is sheer genius!

=)

jen said...

Why do we do this to ourselves?
It must be required that saleswomen wear the black uniform. We're depressed enough already, right?

Marti said...

LOL, you've described it exactly! Love it!

Angela Henrie said...

No mirrors, no lights, no cranky salespeople on a mission for commission...I love on-line shopping.

Holly said...

And this is precisely why I don't go east of 43rd Avenue. West side rocks!!! Woot Woot!

Cherie said...

It's so true! I started shopping online a few years ago - much more enjoyable but when I do go try things on I wear a Spanx! Ha Ha

hiphousegirl said...

This is EXACTLY how I feel in dressing rooms. In my poorly lit bedroom, I look pretty hot in my unmentionables. In the dressing room, each fold and dimple and shadow is so pronounced that my self-esteem immediately reverts back to the level it was in 7th grade. So, so sad.

melanie said...

You know the mirrors at Nortdstroms Rack are all messed up. Love the store but those mirrors need to be replaced!

karen said...

I love you - I feel exactly the same way. The lighting and ambiance in Ann Taylor's dressing rooms is pretty nice. I don't so much mind shopping there. J Crew, however is a disaster. Their styles don't translate well to a size 12. Pity. Shopping online is so great: the anticipation of arrival, all of it. Until nothing fits me like it did on the model.