One day my friend Michelle and I visited a mall and inside that mall I espied a Free People store, which I had never been to in person. I had only lusted over its carefree neo-hippie styles online, and enjoyed articles comparing John Mayer to its models.
And now, here, live, in front of me: The store itself.
My pulse quickened. I flitted gleefully from rack to rack checking price tags. They were so high that suddenly things like a $118 decorative scarf seemed cheap by comparison.
And the I saw it: A black shift mini-dress with flouncy sleeves. One of those dresses that is more than a shirt but not quite a tunic, with a 60s vibe. Something Nicole Richie might pull off, or Kate Hudson. Or, I thought, why not me? Why couldn’t I pull off an awesome flower-child dress marketed to 20-somethings?
I grabbed it and headed to the dressing room.
I pulled it over my head. “Weird,” I thought. “There are like six armholes in this thing.”
Without even getting it on completely I could tell that the dress was so small my daughter’s American Girl Doll would have found it snug.
It also seemed off, somehow. Like, one of my arms was still inside the dress and an empty sleeve was just sort of dangling there, unused.
“This dress sucks,” I thought at it, angrily. “I want it off right now.”
I bent over to do the swift tug-of-the-zipperless-dress-over-one’s-head-in-a-single-graceful-move that only occasionally throws my back out.
This is when I discovered the true nature of the too-small dress. It was actually two garments in one. The outer layer was black velvet with lots and lots of sheer burnout designs in it. And by sheer, I mean completely see-through. Under it was an opaque slip.
My limbs were all mixed up in all of the possible arm and leg openings at once. I may have been wearing a Free People dress, but I was not a Free Person.
The dress would not reverse.
I shuffled over to the curtain and peered out. “Psst, Michelle!” I stage whispered. “I need help!”
“What do you need?”
“Just get one of the sales ladies.”
I could hear Michelle having an awkward conversation with the woman. “My friend needs help in the dressing room,” Michelle said.
“Does she need another size?” the woman asked.
“I don’t know. She just said she needs help.”
I think the woman was surprised to find a pushing-50 woman stuck in a juniors sheer dress. “Um, can I help you?” she asked, clearly uncomfortable.
“I’m trapped,” I said, still hunched over. “I can’t get out.”
That was when I looked at myself upside down in the mirror and realized that the slip part was neatly tucked into my now clearly-visible-through-the-sheer-dress neon orange Hanes underwear.
We alternately pushed and pulled as I prayed she wouldn’t rip the dress so I would have to own it. I envisioned its shredded sheer overlay mocking me from a hanger in my closet. Finally, she yanked the dress up over my head, the straps of the slip digging into my cheeks. My head popped free. I stood there in my bra and orange underwear, panting.
“Do you need another size?” she asked, obviously working on commission.
She returned with a large. I bought it without even trying it on.
This is NaBloPoMo at yeah write, Day 8.