Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Trauma Of Shopping...And Other MS Tales...

OK, I’m finished “enlightening” your mood and mine with all the talk about death and dying…it’s time to move on to more pressing matters, like clothes shopping.

I have decided the clerks (or as they like to be called at my local Unnamed Department store, “consultants”) in most clothing departments are simply paid liars and stalkers. Yes, I AM calling these wolves in sheep’s clothing LIARS AND STALKERS.

I was “forced” to go shopping for a new outfit this week because I had nothing to wear (unless you call jeans and T-shirts “something”) to a fancy banquet dinner tonight, which is being put on by the local MS chapter. It’s something called “Girls Night Out”, and four area neurologists are speaking at one of Seattle’s fancy-shmancy restaurants overlooking Puget Sound. I’m told there are over 100 women attending as well as my old and new neurologist. So, as you can see, I’m under some pressure to look “good”!

I invited a dear friend to attend the event with me (because I’m not one who likes to go to anything alone)…one of my many friends who doesn’t have MS…and she seemed a bit excited about the event. Now you have to understand, this SKINNY friend looks good in everything she wears and could get away with wearing jeans and a T-shirt if she wanted to and everyone would think it was the latest dinner wear fashion straight out of Vogue. I, on the other hand,cannot. I would look like I just got off duty at the local pub waiting tables.

So as I was saying, my friend got a bit excited about the event and made the mistake of telling me she was “getting her hair cut and trying to decide what outfit to wear”. This sent me into a panic. Not only was she sprucing up the “Do” with a trim, but she also had way more than one outfit to choose from in deciding what to wear! I had one outfit to choose from and “birthday suit” just didn’t seem appropriate.

In an effort to try and not embarrass my friend, I decided I would have to do the one thing I loath about as much as I do going to see a gynecologist, and that is shop for clothes. I hate clothes shopping, which may be why I have so few in my closet, aside from the jeans and T-shirt designs. Nothing ever fits my frumpy structure nor does any piece ever look like it does on the mannequin. And don’t even get me started on my thoughts of who designs fat lady clothes! They are some sick nazi people…

I finally bit the bullet two days ago, and went to my area department store…the one with the “Woman’s Department”, which is just a cover up and nice way to say “Fat Lady’s Department”. I’ve always wondered why this department is either in the basement of most stores or at the farthest end of the shopping area. After all, if you’re fat or “plus size” as they like to call obese, you sure as heck don’t want to have to walk clear across the store to findyour department! Again, I believe the same people who design fat lady clothes are the same torturous folks who decide where to PUT the fat lady clothes in the store…they think walking a mile will help us shed some pounds I guess.

So I wound my way through the isles of pretty little juniors and misses clothing, mounted the escalator going down, and located the Fat Lady Department in the bowels of the basement. As I got off the escalator, I noticed two department store clerks/consultants eyeing me…they smiled at me knowingly and probably thinking, “Houston, Apollo has landed”. I became their version of fresh meat.

When I go clothing shopping, I like to perform this act alone. It’s stressful enough without having someone else tagging along and making suggestions for what they think would look good on my pillar-like body. As a matter of fact, ANYTIME I do something like the equivalent, I prefer to do it alone…like the gynecologist, for instance. But somehow unbeknownst to me, there must have been a large magnet surgically implanted in my obese butt which was attracting one of these department “consultants”…she seemed to follow me in a rather creepy way and much too closely all around the store!

Every time I would pause to look at a particular outfit or piece, this “consultant” seemed to pop up out of nowhere to tell me just how “fabulous that would look on you”. She scared the bejesus out of me at one display when she seemed to rise like a Phoenix from the center of it to tell me, “You should definitely try that on. Itwould look just fabulous on you”…I was starting to get a bit nervous.

After being followed around for what seemed like an eternity by this “consultant” (who I’m sure had to be trained by Homeland Security or at the very least the CIA…her stalking skills were just too honed), I finally just started grabbing anything I thought might fit so I could escape into a fitting room ALONE and throw this woman off my scent and trail. She insisted on carrying my chosen items into the fitting room for me and I panicked for a moment, thinking she might try to stay in this tight, closet of a space. Much to my relief (and fear I might be silently murdered by this stalker and left unfound in the closet for days), she did exit the fitting room.

By this point, I had to sit down on the tiny, little seat in the fitting room and take a deep breath…I was already exhausted and hadn’t even tried anything on yet. I couldn’t have been seated more than a minute when I heard the sing song voice of my “consultant” just outside my door asking, “So, how’s it looking? Do you want to step out and try the larger mirror out here?”

“No”, I said calmly, “This one will do just fine, thank you”. I decided it was best to remain polite…this woman could actually be a serial killer for all I knew.

“Well let me know if you need any help then. I’ll be right out here”, she replied cheerily.

Oh my God! She really was stalking me! I was going to HAVE to buy something or figure out how to crawl through the air conditioning duct over my head to escape. I eyed the vent above and decided it was made that small for this very reason…no fat lady could EVER squeeze their way into that tiny opening. DRATS! I would be forced to buy something!

I arose from my seat with a new founded determination to find something that might fit so I could run calmly out the exit with a new purchase in my hands and ditch my “consultant”/stalker. It was my only choice. I began throwing pants, jackets, and blouses from their hangers, trying to match up something I would at least not embarrass my friend with. I decided on a pair of black pants, a white blouse, and a lavender jacket…it would just have to do.

I pressed my ear to the vented door of the fitting room and listened for the sound of my “consultant”/stalker breathing on the other side. I heard nothing. I tried to peer through the slats of the door, but couldn’t see out or make out any shadow on the other side. I cautiously opened the door and stuck my head out first to eye the tiny hallway…she wasn’t there.

“Hmmm”, I thought, “Perhaps she has moved on to stalking someone else”. I toyed with the idea of continuing my search for a different blouse to go under my jacket (which I actually liked…go figure!), but decided not to risk it. She could still be out there somewhere and weaving through the isles again might just attract her attention…sort of how salmon swimming upstream catch the eye of a hungry bear.

I decided to make a beeline directly to the cash register counter and “get the hell out of Dodge”, so to speak. I ducked out of my fitting room and saw she was nowhere in sight, so I more confidently strode down the small hallway and back out to the showroom area. I peered out into the large expanse of clothing hanging neatly on racks, and again, saw no signs of my magnetic “consultant”/stalker. Perhaps she went on break?

Before stepping back out into the show room with my expectant purchases hanging from my arm, I made eye contact with another sales clerk/”consultant” who was standing at a register ringing up another customer. She smiled at me in a comforting sort of way and I plotted my easiest escape through the racks of clothing to get to her.

I was almost to the register undetected when I felt a heavy hand touch my shoulder from behind, nearly causing me to have a heart attack, and that familiar sing song voice say, “Oh those will look so good on you. Let me ring you up over here”.

DRAT and DOUBLE DRAT! My escape plan was foiled! She had caught her prey once again in her snare…and she was lying to me and stalking me right up to the kill.

I eventually paid for my purchases (not without a lot of “Ooo’s and ah’s” from my personal “consultant"/stalker however, delighting in telling me just how “fabulous” each piece would look on me as she slowly completed my purchase) and made it safely out of the store into the light of day. I found my car, tossed my new clothes into the back, and sat quietly trying to regain my composure. I had somehow managed to drain a few hundred out of my bank account in such a short and traumatic time and I really had no idea if anything I bought actually fit or looked “OK” on me. I had been sucked into the evil vortex of shopping once again.

Today I have a hair cut appointment scheduled with a new stylist because my old stylist of nearly 8 years just moved away. I don’t think I can withstand all this trauma in one week just to look good for a silly MS banquet! If I should die from all this excitement, hopefully someone will at least think to bury me in my new clothes…

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