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Tuesday, June 24, 2003  

My Cross to Bear

At my last job, one of my coworkers was a young woman who grew up in Ohio. Dayton, perhaps, I’m not sure. Anyway, she was as tall as I am, and she used to talk about how hard it was to find shoes in her size. One day she asked a clerk at Payless what the deal was, and why they couldn’t order more shoes that might fit a statuesque woman with feet large enough to keep her from tipping over. The clerk explained, “Oh, we do, but the drag queens snap ‘em up as soon as they come in.”

* * *

My wife doesn’t much like shopping for clothes. Get your gender-stereotype-based comments out of the way; I’ll wait.

Done? Okay, let’s move on.

So Trash hates shopping, and if she didn’t spend nine to ten hours a day at an office right across the street from Southdale, she probably wouldn’t do it at all. As it is, every once in a while one of her coworkers will kidnap her during a lunch break and drag her over for a quick gander at the racks in Marshall Fields and New York & Company. The only thing Trash hates more than shopping for clothes is trying on clothes, so she’ll just grab a few things (provided they’re labeled with her sizes and marked down to a tenth their original price), pay for them, and hit the door. She tries them on when she gets home. Anything that trips her, cuts off her circulation, or doesn’t look as good as it did in the store goes back to whence it came, to wait for a woman of less discriminating tastes. That’s where I come in.

No, I’m not the woman of less discriminating tastes. I simply mean that it falls to me to bring the rejects back to the store. I’d enjoy this task a lot more if it ended with me walking out of the mall with some new folding money in my pocket, but since all of these transactions take place via credit card, all I wind up with is a wad of cash register printouts and incrementally fewer women’s garments in the back seat of my car. I could rebel, and insist that Trash do her own returns, but then she wouldn’t shop at all and I’d have to keep her three outfits rotating through the laundry at all times.

Apparently yesterday afforded her a wider shopping window than usual, because she found time to venture more deeply into the mall than the two stores closest to the entrance. Her trajectory brought her all the way to the center of the mall, where she scooped up a double fistful of bras at Victoria’s Secret and still made it back to her desk before her screensaver kicked in. Bras, people. Aren’t women supposed to make, like, appointments for fittings to make sure they get the right thing? And how come I’ve never been invited to one of them?

Unsurprisingly, a couple of items in this small arsenal of double-barreled slingshots turned out to not be keepers. So last night, I stopped at the aforementioned delicates emporium to return them. There’s always that awkward moment where I’m expected to explain why I’m returning what I’m returning, and I’ve done this so many times I can never keep straight what was too big and what was too short and what made her look like Punky Brewster on crack, so I just answer in the fewest possible syllables and get out of there.

In this case, since I’m in a Victoria’s Secret store, I’m already somewhat conscious of the clingy young couple ringing out at the other register. The woman running the register I’ve stepped up to asks me, “Did these not work out for you, or were they the wrong size?”

I said, “Well I bought them for everyday wear, but then I realized they’re just a little too fabulous.”

Or perhaps I said, “Girlfriend, if God wanted the blood to my boobies cut off, he would’ve done it himself.” Followed by a sassy head bob.

Or, as is infinitely more likely, I grunted, “Uh, yeah.”

“So they didn’t work out for you then?” she repeated.

Correct. They didn’t work out for me. They barely fit around my torso, I can’t get the straps up over my shoulders, and yet the cups flap emptily in the breeze. Also, the color makes me look washed out, and they’re totally wrong with all of my dresses. Okay?

I could have said they didn’t work out for my wife, of course, but to the other four people within two yards of me, that would have come out sounding like “OH, HO, HO, HO, LITTLE MISSY, I’M ALL MAN, DON’T YOU KNOW. THESE WEREN’T FOR ME. THEY WERE FOR THE MISSUS. IN FACT, SHE LOVES THESE! BUT I ONLY ALLOW HER TO KEEP THE ONES I CAN UNSNAP FROM THE FRONT IN TWO SECONDS FLAT, AND THESE CLASPS WERE JUST A TAD TOO SLOW ON THE DRAW, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I’M SAYING. USED TO BE I’D JUST CUT THE STRAPS WITH MY HUNTING KNIFE, BUT THAT GETS EXPENSIVE. NOW, HURRY UP AND CREDIT THAT BACK TO MY CARD SO I CAN GET HOME AND GIVE HER WHAT SHE NEEDS. HEY, WANNA SEE IT?” So rather than coming off as a desperately insecure cross-dresser, I took the route of the quietly embarrassed cross-dresser. I’m pretty sure that was the way to go.

On the way home, I stopped at Payless. They didn’t have anything in my size.

posted by M. Giant 3:15 PM 0 comments


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