Wentz: Capris and tankinis and short-shorts -- oh, my!
Cast: Her - adorable, perky, around 22 yrs. old, around 110 lbs.;
Me - not.
Her: Hi! (brilliant smile and all exclamation points) Welcome to “We-Have-Absolutely-Nothing-You-CouldFit-Into”! Are you shopping for your daughter today?
Me: Uh … (a tad intimidated) ... no ... I’m shopping for myself.
Her: (dubious look) Are you sure you’re not looking for the “Everything-In-Here-Is-For-Old-Out-Of-Shape-People” store, just across the mall?
Me: No! (a tad defensive) I’m staying here! It’s still a free country!
Her: (The pasted-on smile is back.) Absolutely! So, what can I help you with today?
Me: Well, uh ... (mumbling) I’m just looking around for some summer clothes and ... you know ... (really mumbling) bathing suits.
Her: (loud enough to be heard in surrounding counties) Did you say BATHING SUITS? Why, we have a fabulous selection of suits, like that TANKINI style suit, where you have BIKINI bottoms, but a tank top? So, TANKINI, get it? (I imagine people glancing over, their jaws dropping in horror) That would look SOOO good on you! (My mother, who can hear her from Ohio, is ESP-reminding me that salesladies cannot be bested in the art of The Lie.)
Me: Oh ... I think I’ll just look around a little.
Her: No problem! We have a wonderful selection of shorts, from very short to the longer, mid-thigh length, and --
Me: Excuse me? Did you say ‘”longer” is just mid-thigh?
Me: But, what about, like, Bermuda-length?
Her: Pardon me?
Me: You know, Bermudas?
Her: (perplexed) I’m sorry, but what is a Bermuda?
Me: Never mind. I’ll just look around --
Her: And, we have a darling line of sundresses in bright florals, in both form-fitting and loose, swingy styles!
Me: But, all of these are sleeveless, and awfully short...
Her: (a tad condescending) Uh, yesss -- all of our sundresses are short -- they leave the legs and arms exposed to show off that tan! We just don’t have a large clientele who want to be covered up in the summer, ha ha! But, I believe they have a large assortment of summer MUMUS AND TENT DRESSES over at “FAT-FOLKS-R-US” ...
Me: (fiercely shushing) No, thank you, these are fine. (She glances at my upper arms, and shrugs: Hey, it’s my funeral.) So, I’ll just look around --
Her: Great! And, along this back wall we have a marvelous collection of capris, some with matching tops!
Me: Capris? (I can do capris!) We used to call them “pedal pushers” when I was young (this is a mistake -- so far, our whole encounter is a blend of Turkish/Portuguese).
Me: Capris? They were called “pedal pushers.”
Her: (totally blank) Uh ... why?
Me: (I still don’t know when to shut up!) Oh, it might have been because they were designed to wear when you rode a bike? Like, better than long pants because they didn’t get caught in the chain or spokes or something ... (wilting under her gaze -- if this doesn’t prove I belong in the “Rambling-Senile-Elders” store, nothing does) ... it’s stupid ... doesn’t matter.
Her: Huh. (it takes supreme effort to call forth the fake smile now) OK, why don’t you look around and I’ll get you a dressing room when you’re ready!
Me: Thank you (and thank You, as well, God).
After a long, sweaty, frenzied combing of the ladies’ department, I finally approach her with armloads of clothing, and she unlocks the door to a large dressing room (please. why do you lock the door to an empty dressing room? I think it’s merely an affectation by chic and uppity “boutiques” to show how chic and uppity they really are.) She counts the number of articles I’ve brought in, gives me a cheery, “OK, then, let me know if you need anything!) and beats a hasty retreat.
The shorts are a desperate attempt to recapture a youth where, even at age 11, my mom would never let me wear shorts that short; the sundresses, though sleeveless -- thought I might cover it with a light shawl or sweater in the scorching, roasting, skin-searing Carolina sun -- are all Shirley Temple short and/or Beyonce tight; and, the swimsuits ... well, let’s just say, the tankini does not “look SOOO good” on me.
I’m wondering who can actually wear the stuff in this store besides starved pre-teen swingers, as I take my two pairs of capris and one swimsuit with a little skirt around it up to the counter. Pitiful.
Her: (smirky) Well, you found something!
Me: (brightly) Yes! (Smirk on, girlie -- one day you’ll know EXACTLY what Bermudas are, and you’ll seek them like a junkie seeks crack; I hope I’m retired by then and working here!)
Vicki Wentz is a local writer, teacher and speaker. Readers may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit her website, www.vickiwentz.com.