AKA: The Little Black Dress From Hell
It was a simple, unassuming dress. Nothing fancy or sexy. Not even particularly interesting, truth be told. But it looked useful, in that work-appropriate-and-currently-on-sale kind of way.
I decided to try it on.
This was my favorite consignment store and they were having a huge sale. All blue-tagged items 90% off! Ninety percent! All around me women were carrying heaps of clothing, all with blue tags.
“Just one? ” the dressing room attendant asks me.
“Just one,” I reply.
I go to my usual stall, last one on the left. I undress quickly and take the dress off its hanger.
Hmm. The zipper is in the side seam. I hate that. Zippers do not belong in side seams.
I look at the price tag again. With the discount, it’ll be $3.00. I put the dress on.
It’s over my head, so far so good, bust line is loose, but then I don’t have a bust, so whatever. Sleeves are a bit tight. That’s weird. Pull the dress down all the way, hip & thighs fit with room to spare. Amazing. Zip up side seam and look in mirror.
Okay, so the length is good. Not too short, not too long. Wow, these sleeves are tight. What’s up with that? Waistline is loose, could use a belt. I pull at the sleeves. Maybe I can remove them? Cut the seam and add a thin strip of ribbon?
Hell, for three bucks, I’m willing to make it work.
I unzip the side and start to pull the dress off, only the sleeves are resisting. As in, full on revolt. They aren’t budging.
I’m bent over, dress over my head. I hear women on the other side of the curtain:
“Grandma, that looks great!”
“The color is a bit much.”
“It looks good on you though!”
“People would stare, wouldn’t they?”
“We don’t care what people think. We’re Gypsies.”
Silently I cheer on the Gypsy women. Inwardly I curse the idiot who designed this dress. It had to be a man. A man who hates women.
I tug harder. If anything, it feels tighter. I think my arms are swelling. Swelling in protest of the monster who made this dress.
What does one do in a situation like this? Call out for help? Would anyone hear me from the last room, bent over with a dress over my head?
I hear more voices:
“What do you think of this?… Oh, I’m sorry! You’re the wrong Paula!
(Laughter) “That’s okay. I think it looks amazing.”
“Really? It doesn’t doesn’t too tight? I thought it looked tight.”
“Does it feel tight?”
“No, it feels comfortable.”
“It doesn’t look tight. It looks sexy.”
You know what they should put in dressing rooms? They should have one of those “pull for assistance” cords like in hospital bathrooms.
Oh gawd, what have I done? I knew the sleeves felt tight, but I put the dress on anyway. Stupid, stupid, stupid!
I tug harder… Seriously, this isn’t moving. I’m really stuck.
I bet Gypsy women never worry about getting stuck in clothes. I bet Paula, or Paula’s friend, or the woman who tells strangers they look sexy never have to worry.
Of course they don’t worry! They have shopping buddies! I’m an idiot who shops alone! Why am I a loner? And why am I so damned cheap that I struggle into three dollar dresses with sausage casing sleeves?
Bent over, dress over my head, I question all my life choices. I wonder why I’m in a dressing room when the sun is shining outside. What brought me to this low state?
But mostly I ask, why do I have a job that makes me wear anything other than jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers?!
“I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.”
–Henry David Thoreau
Finally, I come to a decision: I will NOT be beaten by this dress!
And there is no way in hell I’m going to call for help and let anyone see me bent over with a dress over my head!
Summoning all my strength and resolve, I take a deep breath, exhale, and tug again.
Movement! I sense movement! I tug again, slower this time… yes, it’s coming off! Sweet alleluias fill my ears! All is right with the world!
When I return the dress I tell the attendant, “They should put a warning on that thing. The sleeves are super tight.”
“Oh really?” she says, not looking in the least bit concerned. Her arms are super skinny.
One day, young maiden, it will be true for you as well. A day closer than you may think, you will find yourself in a dressing room very much like this one, and you will be stuck.
And when that day arrives, if I am near, I will help you fair maiden. You have my word.