This story is dedicated to my friend Ellie
who likes shopping as much as I do.
Shortly after Amanda was born, Marty looked at the unbecoming bulge still camouflaging my waist and announced, “You deserve a new dress. Go out and get one...when your weight goes down.”
Now I like a new dress as much as the next woman, but when my weight went down I didn't rush out to buy one. The truth is I dislike shopping: I hate looking for things on racks; I can never remember my size; I don't know prices; and I don't like trying on clothes in those little cubicles they call dressing rooms.
The only way to make shopping bearable is to invite along a helpful friend. Most of my friends love shopping so it's not difficult to get someone to come along. Even so, I was quite content without the new dress; thus after several months the shopping trip was still only a vague notion.
But then on my birthday I got a card from Marty, who really likes to see me in a new dress. It said “You are hereby entitled to buy one (1) new dress.”
I gently reminded him that I was already entitled to one new dress for losing the weight. Now I would have to go out and buy two new dresses.
I figured I better get this bit of shopping over with or I might get a new dress for Mother's Day, our wedding anniversary and Christmas. On paper, Marty could go on giving me new dresses; and as long as he kept giving me new dresses which never quite materialized, he probably wouldn't be giving me anything else–-like a microwave or a dishwasher.
I immediately got on the phone to my trusty friend, Marnie. She understood my dilemma and took me to the mall.
In the first store the dresses were too old womanish. The second store was aimed at young girls. I would have walked right by the third store for everything I could see from the entrance was either bright red, black or white: colours too bold for my complexion, but Marnie pulled me into the back of the place to the softer spring colours.
We had come to the right establishment. The saleswomen informed us of the store's super buy-one-get-one-free sale.
Marnie took control. “What size are you?”
“Fourteen,” I guessed.
We proceeded to pick a pile of mix and match items in size 14.
The saleswomen noting the half dozen articles I wanted to try on, quickly waived the rule about only allowing three items in a dressing room at one time. She must have seen that we were honest and serious buyers.
To my delight, everything we picked was one or two sizes too big. It's much nicer to go into a dressing room with clothes that are too big than to begin with a size too small. I suppose this works on the same principle as Jesus's teaching about not picking the most honoured position at the banquet.
There was no mirror in the dressing room: it was out in the store. This must be so the sales staff can help you buy things. As I twirled in front of the mirror everyone nodded approval. Marnie was saying, “You wouldn't know she has five kids.” My ego soared.
The saleswoman waited several seconds to say, “You have the skirt on backwards.” My ego landed with a plop.
I tried on various combinations. We agreed I should buy a skirt, matching top, jacket and walking shorts. (Don't ask me how the shorts got involved.) That's when I began seriously looking at prices.
The prices seemed high, but then again at this kind of a sale in which you buy one item and get one free, the higher the price, the better you feel about the free part. I mean a free $10 pair of shorts doesn't feel nearly as wonderful as a free $60 pair of shorts.
The bill came to $200.
The saleswoman explained, “It's the tax.”
Then as she carefully pushed the articles into a bag, she quietly mentioned, “These are non-returnable.”
I bought them anyway. I liked the things and figured one good outfit was the same as two dresses. Besides I had done enough shopping.
I modelled the clothes for Marty that evening and thanked him for the presents. He thought I looked stunning.
The next night we happened to be going out to a play. I proudly put on the new outfit. There was a certain distinction about the clothes that spoke of me as a women of means.
Before we could get out the door, Baby Amanda spit up on the jacket. There are plenty of ways to keep a person humble.
Next pruned story