I have a lot of goals in life, but the one that seems to come up the most frequently is “Don’t look stupid!” I was reminded of this when I ventured to the L.S. Ayres 20%-40% sale, a.k.a. the “we’ve been bought by our competitor and need to dump this merchandise like a tourist with Montezuma’s revenge” sale.
L.S. Ayres is a typical department store and like any typical department store, I don’t shop there. My salary is not fat enough to justify spending $80 on a sweater, but I am fat enough to be too large for most clothes in the store. But…20%-40% off already marked-down items!! That’s like waving a stick in front of my face with a Krispy Kreme donut dangling on a string. Besides, I was already at the mall for the Lane Bryant winter clearance sale, and I like to show off the fact that I can now walk around the mall and to the far end of the parking lot without keeling over and dying. It’s the little things, you know? Parking has become so much easier now that I just take the first space I find. It’s much easier than circling the lot three times looking for the space closest to the door or stalking people coming out of the mall so I can swipe their spot.
The first thing I try to do whenever I enter unknown retail territory is to surreptitiously assess the layout of the store without anyone noticing that I have no clue where I’m going. Why? Because I don’t want to look stupid. Also, in the case of a department store, I don’t want to appear “low-class” by telegraphing the fact that I usually don’t shop in places with full service make-up counters. So, even if I’m wondering through the “Petite” section, I try to walk confidently as if to say “Why, yes, I am a big, huge, fat girl, but I am walking through the petite section on purpose. So there!” I sometimes even prepare an excuse in case anyone stops me, usually that I am shopping for my tiny, imaginary sister. Good thing she’s imaginary, because if I actually had a tiny little sister I’d be forced to hate her for being skinny, the bitch.
Eventually I will wonder into the right section if only by chance. Sometimes I get confused because I’ve never quite figured out the difference between women’s and misses sizes, other than the fact that misses is smaller. So if something is a “Large” I don’t know how large that actually is until I hit the dressing room. This leads to more paranoia as I am browsing the racks. I keep wondering if other people see me quite clearly browsing the wrong section and are thinking “What is she doing shopping in that section?” This is clearly quite ridiculous. The amount of time I have spent assessing what sections of the store other people are shopping in is less than the time I’ve spent wondering why male cats have nipples. Why should I think anyone is actually interested in what part of the store I’m shopping in? Yet, the paranoia persists.
The other thing that always surprises me about department stores is how much clothing they have. I’m always a bit in awe that someone could go to a store and have this much variety to choose from. I’m so used to being restricted to the little corner marked off for plus-sizes that it still surprises me that a store that large could be full of clothes that might hypothetically fit you.
I eventually did find one cute sweater that fit which was marked down to $23.00 from $80.00 originally. There were also several cute hats that I wanted to snap up because I have a hat addiction, but I just couldn’t see myself spending $30 on a hat, no matter how madly I was jonesing for it. Mama’s gotta buy a new car first. I’ll just have to wait until they jack up the sale to 60% or 80% and head back into hostile territory. At least now I have a road map.