Shirt Off My Back

Yesterday afternoon, a series of frustrating events I experienced in a certain clothing store threatened to lead me to demonstrate the full drama of which I am capable, so I took leave of the premises before the inevitable could occur. I knew it was time to vacate when the pounding of blood in my ears drowned out the voices in my head, so I made my escape quietly and without event.
To make a not very long and not very interesting story not short enough (but shorter than it could be), it turns out that, even though in the past, cashiers at that store (and that branch in particular) have cheerifully allowed me to return unworn items bought at full price and then buy them back at a sale price (this, after the 14-day price adjustment period has expired) — a two-part transaction that doesn’t involve bleeding from the ears — it is apparently against store policy to do so. And has been for at least a year and a half or forever, depending on which employee I asked. If I wanted to return the item, of course I was free to do so, but they would have to place it back “on the floor” and I could only buy it back at the reduced price after 24 hours. The item I’d bought was quite popular, and I knew if it were released back into the wild, it would not survive long enough for me to rescue it.
So I told them that was all so very nice indeed, but that shhhhh a lot of people do what I wanted to do and had done in the past and guess what they do it quite often and without questioning and you know what the store should really reword its policy because people with IQs above the original price of the shirt I’d bought could easily see how the current policy made no sense.
OK, so I didn’t say that last thing. I was too busy trying to quiet the voices in my head and in my shopping bag who were starting to complain that none of us had had lunch yet and maybe we should think about eating a little something before we really flew off the handle.
I decided to produce Exhibits “A” and “B” — original receipts that showed I’d recently done a return/rebuy (or whatever the technical term is in the world of retail). But then I remembered that a couple of weeks ago, I had tossed the receipt showing the rebuy. The very receipt that would prove my case. I cursed myself for deviating from my usual custom, which is to seal all receipts in plastic evidence bags and label them accordingly for record-keeping purposes.
So rather than go through the whole runaround again (and besides, I was starving!), I thanked the three girls and one unfortunate haired boy with whom I dealt, smiled prettily and politely, and walked calmly out of the store. Once outside, I continued my calm facade, and then, once beyond the eyeshot of anyone pressing their noses to the store’s plate glass window, I ran to a spot several yards up Fifth Avenue and unleashed all of my frustration in a cell phone call to the DOG wherein I detailed all that had just transpired. By this time, I was, thankfully, laughing about it. But still, if I can be completely honest (and I feel I can!), I did still entertain ideas of effectuating the untimely and tragic demises of everyone inside the store (even the customers) using only the items in my well-seasoned Coach shoulderbag. I don’t carry a ton of stuff with me, so my options were limited to reading to them from the swath of takeout menus stashed in the outside pocket of the bag, using voices appropriate to the ethnicity of each restaurant, or totally erasing their faces with a little container of Benefit Boi-ing coverup. Slow deaths, indeed, but very very painful.
But yesterday murder was only a fantasy. (Alas.) However, I wanted to show that ne’er-do-well store that I wasn’t one to be played the fool. I decided to wield my power in another fashion, so I hastily patronized another popular chain clothing store, just down the street. Sort of like when some big loutish dolt dumps you for the town tramp and you go out and immediately start dating someone new with broader shoulders and deeper pockets and a cleft chin and a letterman sweater and flaunt him at the roller rink to show that you won’t be beaten, no, you won’t be beaten! Yeah, I’d show that other store, I would!
Heck, I walked into that store smiling. Grinning. Beaming! And I even touched every item I came across! I rubbed wool between my fingers. Patted cotton sweaters. Massaged a brown suede handbag and cood, “cute, ve-e-e-e-ry cute” as I caressed its nap with my fingertips. Let my fingers linger on multi-pocket cargo pants in a variety of earth tones. Noted smugly, and with a little “hmmph!” that J. Crew wasn’t surrendering to the obnoxious pointy-toed footwear trend that the other store was so ready to accept.
I even went so far as to stroll around the store for a while with a pair of groovy sweat-type pants with little zippers at the bottoms of the legs and a red cotton zip-front coverup over my arm, before taking them both into the dressing room and sliding them against my skin!
But then the fury wore off, or the bloom was off the rose, or the honeymoon was over, or I noticed that my rebound date had bad skin or just wasn’t my type, or something, and I remembered I’m the kind o’ girl who never leaves the house less than completely “turned out”, even if she’s wearing jeans, and there’s no way in fucking hell I’d be caught dead in any sort of sweatpants in public, cute little zippers at the bottoms of the legs or no cute little zippers. And red? Surely I remembered how I felt the last time I wore it in public. So I left the store with my money intact … and my spirit surprisingly uplifted!
I considered stopping off at home and dropping off the shopping bag with the unreturned, unrebought-back shirt. Instead, I took the shirt out for lunch in midtown and promised that the next time we went out in public together, I’d wear him proudly.
After lunch, the shirt called to me from the bag where he was resting, sated. “Thank you!” he said. “Thank you for not risking our life together by sending me back to the floor where I would no doubt be snatched up by some snooty sale-happy biatch who wouldn’t wear me so well or give me as nice of a hanger as you’ve given me!”
“Anything for you, baby,” I said. “I’d give the shirt off my back for you!”
“Girl, I am the shirt off your back!” he said.
We laughed the whole way home.