Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dressing Room Musings

You would think more stores would put greater emphasis on their dressing rooms.  Really, most are no more than outhouses inside.  I'm standing in one right now and it's sad that I'm actually standing.  There isn't a chair anywhere close by.  I went to the cheap furniture section and grabbed a camp chair and flipped it open.  I know I'm going to be here long enough to smoke a cigar if Florida still allowed smoking inside.  I understand why they don't, however.  I've seen the mentality of most smokers who think their right to smell like a stale ashtray supersedes my right to enjoy my bubble of air.  Someone would eventually be slipping a nice silk blouse over the lit cigarette dangling from their chubby lips and the next thing you know I'm buying a shirt with charred holes.

Why am I going to be here that long?  Simple.  The girls never take just one item in to try on.  It's more like a closet full in a cart.  Literally, the maximum allowed is eight items and Teri has to make four trips.  Char has already made one trip and is on the hunt for more.  I need a chair, coffee and Wi-Fi.  I'm going to be here long enough for this to be a 5,000 word essay.

I've been in some dressing rooms where I could park my tush in a plush chair with foot stool, soft music played and a lady came and asked if I would like a cup of fresh tap water.  The carpet was lush and the walls sparkled almost like they were freshly painted.  They took as much care in their dressing rooms as they did the CEO’s office.  Add a mini bar and the girls can try on clothes till the cards say "No more" so I don't have to.  They were like the dressing room in Pretty Woman.

I think that's the part most stores fail to get.  I have the wallet with the cards.   If I'm uncomfortable for long, we're going home.  Make me forget I've seen thirty-seven outfits, most of them looking very much like what’s already hanging up in the closet at home, and half of them just might walk out the door with us.

Dressing rooms are like neighborhoods.  Some neighborhoods don't do a whole lot of landscaping if any because they know the residents are just going to destroy it anyway.  Stores treat dressing rooms the same, which is why the self-adhesive tile floor is cracked and coming loose and no one cares.  You attract the clientele you prepare for and they didn't prepare for me.  A homeless person wouldn't sleep here and they want me to get down to my skivvies and try on cheap clothes?  With prices this low I can just take them home, spray them with Fabreeze and try them on there.  Don't fit?  I can use it to change my oil.  That is, I would if I knew how to change my oil but I barely know how to put it in.  I'm serious.  I have a bottle of oil right now sitting in the space between the two front seats, waiting to be put in and I keep shrugging my shoulders and saying, "Tonight.” Of course, the oil knows it's safe and I'll keep forgetting.  Soon, I'm stranded on the side of the road calling that road service I added to my phone bill for only $4.99 a month.  Not a bad deal considering how often I've called them and how terrible I maintain my vehicles.

They do the same with dressing rooms.  It needs fixed but they'll get to it tomorrow.  I mean who's going to see it, right?  Just everyone who buys clothes!  Straighten the racks, unknot the hangers, sweep the floor and get rid of the girl chewing gum like a newborn cow.

Eventually, I get tired of staring at the brown stain on the floor, afraid of what it might be and try to initialize conversation.  I figure I'd try anything to get her to stop smacking her gums on the gum.

"You look tired.  Long day?"

"Nah.  Only been here twenty minutes.” I'd been there less than that and I probably looked just as bad minus the gum chewing.

"Twenty minutes, huh.  Wow.  Time must really......crawl back here."

Her eyes are barely open and I bet I know what she did just before clocking on.  Stuck back in the armpit of the department store, I would as well.  Seeing what she does, I can imagine a few puffs of the magic weed would help her pretend it was all an illusion.  Seriously, if you know you're a size 16, why did you pick up the size 10 to try on?  It may have looked great on the hanger but not when you came out to show your girlfriends.  I know how it is to admit you're not the same size.  When my waist crept from 32 up to 36, okay 38 but I'm not admitting to the size 40 period of my life, I struggled at first and refused to buy the right size.  That was when I realized mushroom head was not merely a sexual term.  My six-pack was hidden under my keg and busting at the seams.  This type of shenanigans is what dressing room attendants are subjected to.  No wonder they look like they live at Halloween Horror Nights.

Then the runway part of the day began as first Char then Teri modeled their choices for my opinion, which could go for them or against as my eye for fashion ranks right up there with my knowledge of sports.  Still, I know what I like and what I don't like and that's really what they're asking for.  By the time I hear, "What do you think?" they've already made sure it matches.  They gave up asking me about blended colors years ago.

"Robbie, doe this blouse match these pants okay or do I need to go a shade darker in the top?"

"First off, what the hell's a blouse?  Oh, you mean the shirt.  How would I know if it matches? I'm a guy."

That's why I stick to blue jeans.  Everything matches them.

"What do you think of this?  I'm considering it for a work outfit.”  Then it was a dress for dancing, one for a party at a friend's and then an everyday outfit.  I don't even know what that means!  If you're going to wear it everyday why am I buying the other outfits?

It was then that the dressing room took on a whole new aura.  It was more than just a three-by-three room with a skinny bench that wouldn’t hold my backside and a long mirror that wouldn't show it.  It was a place where people tried on different personas.  Char came out draped in work, black slacks with a white print blouse, back straight, and arms to the side and that disarming business smile on her face.  Even without heels she was to be taken seriously.  Then Teri came out in a lavender and teal dress, hips swaying to whatever song was reverberating in her head as she danced her way out to me.  All she needed was a margarita and she was set.  These are who we are at different times depending on place and setting - employee, dancer, and fishermen.  They are pieces of the whole.

"We got this just for around the house.  You know, cookouts and stuff.”  There they stood, both in comfy pants and colorful tops.  Their everyday outfit.  I have one.  It's not much different than my other clothes really, just a little more worn.  This isn't a persona.  This is the person we are when we don't have to be anyone else.  This is me on my back porch or watching a movie with the family, reading a book or walking the beach.  These are the outfits the girls walk out with; these are the ones worn the most.
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