Tagged: shopping

Center

I’m not a spotlight reveler.  I’m the one reveling in anonymity and dancing in the negative space around the spotlight.  Like an escaped prison convict, I tend to go wide-eyed and freeze up in the blinding light of attention.
But when you get married, it’s kinda the point to be the center of attention.
Dress shopping and decision-making are turning things a bit sideways, as I learned yesterday.
Wedding dress shopping, first stop.  The bridal shop saleswoman is a mousy woman with wire-rimmed glasses and short dark hair.  She listens expectantly as I describe what I’d like, hoping to end the choreographed dance around the Price Question as soon as urbanely possible.  Finally, I name my budget, and the woman curtly responds, “No, madam, that just isn’t possible.  For what you want, you’re looking at X.”
X is several hundred euros more than I had imagined.
There are three people watching me fidget, and make a snap decision.  The potency of my French turns from espresso to dishwater.  I feel hot, and my throat starts to tighten.  I’m looking blankly into the seller’s eyes, and noticing that despite her calm mask, her skin is flushing.  My skin flushes in tandem, and my tongue swells.  The silence is oppressive, and I suddenly feel like a foolish girl.  I step outside my skin and envision how I must look, slack-jawed and cloddish, with my simple thumbs curled through the belt loops in my careworn jeans, surrounded by pristine white gowns.  I feel so inadequate.
“Well, then, I suppose it’ll have to be that much, but no more.”
“It’s you who decides, madam, not me!”
I can feel the eyes of my mother- and sister-in-law on my back, silently sharing this clumsy moment with me.  I want to evaporate.
My heart sinks as I try on several gorgeous wedding dresses.  I let my hair loose, and I admit to myself that I do look very nice.  My throat is still tight, and I manage to squeak out that, indeed, they flatter my figure.  I purse my lips, and as six eyes expectantly wait for a definitive “yes,” and that signature bride-to-be’s squeal of glee at finding The Dress, I feel myself crumbling inside.  I feel like a hollow doll, slathered in pretense and lace.
What’s the tactful way to say that this doesn’t feel right?  That I’m not cut out for this ostentatious charade?  How would Emily Post orchestrate my exit strategy?
“Well, this is a big decision that I’m not ready to make right now.  I think I’d like to sleep on it.”
I take the woman’s business card, slide it into my bag, and smile as I show myself the door.  Damn, that was rough.  But I’m happy that I listened to my gut instinct and did what was right, albeit uncomfortable:  I said no.
Even if I stumbled and scraped a knee back there, I think Emily would be happy with my (somewhat) diplomatic retreat.

Shop

Mid-January.

Winter rains coat the stone walkways in town.  Gray above, gray below.  A pre-recorded man’s voice ricochets off the stone buildings, and through my head.  Advertisements.  The pushy scripts are read by a noncommittal man’s voice, just innocuous enough to sound attractive.

50-percent off, get your King Cakes for the Epiphany at This Bakery.  That Shop is offering you a limited-time offer on Whatever.  Buy 2 Things, get one free at Some Other Store.

I feel morose as I find myself slithering through the wet streets, killing time before work.  I’m not above their stupid gimmicks after all.  How can I compete with perfectly-orchestrated color schemes designed to attract my eye?  I’m disappointed in my brain, as it falls for their slight-of-hand tricks that gussy up the same old products and commodities in flashy fake allure?  My brain is no match for those advertising bigwigs that are experts in the art of money extraction.

I feel guilty as my feet take me toward the attractively-colored Makeup Shop.  I choose a lipstick color, and stand in the checkout line, feeling defeated.  A tight-lipped saleswoman calls out to me in a firm, clipped voice:  Other line please, you sheep.

I’m thus herded with the others toward the designated station where I part with several euros of my hard-earned money, all for the sake of vanity.  I steal a moment after lunch to smear on my new lipstick.  Am I beautiful yet?  Is the sellout, commercialized and commodified Lari satisfied?

I look at myself in the mirror, and my heart softens a bit.  It actually looks nice.  I’ve allowed myself this one indulgence, and I can’t say I regret it.  The Me in the mirror gives a loving, yet reproachful smirk:  You’ve had your moment of excess.  Now wear that lipstick, and continue on your way.