Today I went to a department store with my sister to shop for post-pregnancy clothing. Which was an appropriate thing for her to do, since her son is still a baby. My youngest child speaks English(ish) and can choose his own clothing; yet as of 6 hours ago, I’d yet to break the seal. Shopping makes me feel super squirrely, my mother has a badass “Donate” pile from which I frequently pilfer, and I’ve already made clear to my husband that I’ve officially let myself go. Somehow, I’ve managed to make it this far post pregnancy able to enter into Public un-naked.
Nevertheless, I’m growing weary of sniffing the nether regions of my two pairs of yoga pants prior to donning them in the morning and I had someone other than The Mirror to give me feedback, so I packed away my decision paralysis and preemptive buyer’s remorse and got ready to do something most folks don’t make such a fucking big deal out of.
I’m sure the employees at this particular store work on commission, because even though we were pushing a stroller with a squalling infant and both had snot stains on our t-shirts, no fewer than 5 gorgeous and immaculately dressed 23-year-olds descended upon us as if they weren’t terrified that our particular brand of bland and smelly life decisions might someday become their fate. Instead, they behaved as if we might be two of the Kardashians taking newest edition Faucet--forgive me, Faucét--out for his debut. In Nashville. In clothes from Target and relatives’ Goodwill piles as clever disguises. Obvi.
So, we got into it, y’all, running through the place like it was Supermarket Sweep for the poorly-dressed, tossing arm-loads of clothes at these girls, and then barreling into the gigundous fitting room to survey our choices. One such girl, let’s call her Brandee, won out over the others and came to-and-fro offering to switch out sizes and whatnot.
And that’s where things turned dark.
Why is it that each and every time Brandee approached our fitting room, one of us would throw open the door, unaware that the other was awkwardly between skivvies-only and entirely nude? “I love this floral silk so much but the size up might lay better on my hips." Also, enjoy my sister’s bent-over wedgie. “Do you maybe have these jeans in a different color?" Oh, hey Sis, Brandee says that your nipples are showing because that dress is on backward.
Then, when we each decided that we could totally rock the off-the-shoulder trend and saw that the two women looking back at us from the mirror appeared to have been chased from their homes mid-shower by a fire-drill, we realized we were totally wrong.
At one point, the moment I’d finished zipping a darling little floral A-line onto Sister, she looked at me in horror, froze, and whispered “either get this thing off quick or get my milk pads out of the diaper bag.” This dress was another poor fit and she was not about to buy the thing simply because her kid cooed in his sleep and she’d let down all over it.
Speaking of boob juice, because Sis is breastfeeding, she has a…robust situation up there. I, on the other hand, nursed two babies after barely filling out a B-cup pre-pregnancy and now I’ve ceased with the milk-making. So I have…that kinda situation. We spent a half an hour trying dress after dress, laughing at her Dolly Parton-rivaling cleavage and looking pitifully at the flaccid fabric pouches on my choices, wondering if it would be appropriate to stuff diapers into their voids, as I will clearly require some assistance henceforth.
Then, I zipped her up into this lovely yellow-and-silver brocade tea-length dress.
And, it looked amazing on her.
It wasn’t cheap, though, so we decided that I should try it on as well to see if I could pull it off too if we filled the chest-area with baby bunnies or something. Fashion time-share!
But the zipper got stuck. Like, forever stuck. Like, called-Brandee-to-our-rescue-in-a-panic and-there-was-nothing-on-earth-any-of-us-could-do-about-it stuck. So, Brandee had to discreetly get a pair of scissors and CUT my sister out of the dress, which was quietly transported to the “damage-out” room.
At this point, after the inadvertent flashing, fluid-leaking, and dress euthanasia, we still hadn’t found anything that fit either of us. Sister needed to feed the baby, so I made one last whirlwind attempt, Brandee at my heels offering suggestions, and went back to the fitting room with 15 more items. One of the tops looked pretty good on me, so that was something, but we were tired and discouraged and totally over it, and decided to cut our losses and bail.
I worked retail after college, y’all. And there’s a particular adrenaline rush associated with helping women who are in a hurry, in need of specific items, and feeding off of a friend’s enthusiasm. Commission from a single interaction with those kinds of slightly-crazy-eyed people can be more than the rest of a week’s work combined, and I LIVED for those folks. They paid my rent. But there’s an equally intense feeling that occurs when a customer you’ve devoted 90 minutes to helping purchases a $22 dollar shirt and leaves a dressing room looking like Christian Siriano’s nightmare threw up into it. I always re-hang stuff I’ve tried on, but still. It was bad. I felt terrible. And kind of wished I could slip this kid some cash just for her trouble.
Instead, I purchased my shirt with my department store credit card, since I’ve only used it once since opening it, and then asked to pay the card off immediately at the register because I don’t like to be in debt.
And this is why I don’t go shopping.