Allergic to Shopping

Life is too short for ugly shoes.


I REALLY hate shopping.

Did you typecast and think those were not typical words from a woman? Especially when the mall is full of signs saying “95% Off,” “Buy 1, Get 3 Free,” and “You Aren’t Fat! You’re Just Fluffy!”

Here’s the problem- MIRRORS.

A year ago our middle daughter had a beautiful wedding. I planned ahead, lost a little weight, and worked up to the inevitable day of viewing my reflection. Our youngest daughter will be married in October precipitating the need to do it all again. But a mirror jumped out in front of me before I was ready.

That will sour anyone’s shopping trip.

I needed something festive (and cheap) to wear to a party and walked into our local department store. When I saw that everything was on SALE I got cold chills. It was just too good to be true. And what did I spy in the middle of the aisle immediately? Shoe racks, 75% off! WOOHOO!

Swooping down the main aisle, I scooped up everything my size to examine in private.

I’ve never seen an end-of-the-season shoe sale I didn’t love or shoes I couldn’t squeeze my toes, no matter how painful, into. That is, until I sat down with shoes from this sale.

Really? Obviously, shoe designers this year were smoking crack. Why would anyone create shoes with six-inch platforms, eight-inch heels and colors so hideous it made your eyes water?

After tossing aside the obvious rejects, I posed in front of the little half mirror in the shoe section gazing down at my ankle fat flopping. I’m certain stores provide those tiny mirrors so you can’t see how bad you REALLY look.

By Elmar J. Lordemann photography by Jo Atmon via Wikimedia Commons

There I stood, looking something like an ancient David Bowie, just not as debonair, in the most uncomfortable, gaudy, floral platform sandals that looked like they came from the Lady Gaga collection, emphasis on GAG.

I’m pretty sure those shoes didn’t sell at full price because they were someone’s idea of a practical joke. Two high school age shoe designers in Shanghai hid in a closet giggling while they created them. “Let’s take six inches of a kindergartener’s art project, wrap it around a garden rake and call it a designer sandal!” I’d rather wear flip-flops left from a pedicure.

That failure shook me but I prevailed and swam through the nostril assailing scents of the perfume counters to the high point of my trip- the top of the escalator.

I braced myself for the summit knowing my penchant for sale tags.

There it was. My weakness- signs hung on racks shrieking an unbelievable 80% off. OH MY!! I might buy more than one item and hide it in the closet!

But wait- where were the clothes for normal humans? The racks were filled with clothing as ugly as the junk I had just dumped at Goodwill. I wondered if it was too late to get it back because obviously all that old stuff must be back in style.

All I could find was HUGE, loud, trashy clothes! The red and blue silk chevron dress I examined would either make me look like a gas station sign or a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted police. The next rack had clothing with enormous star burst patterns that would make me look as big as Neptune. The neon coral jump suits I rejected resembled penitentiary uniforms. Orange is the new black?

Everywhere I looked; garish colors and prints assailed my eyes and made me queasy. Funeral wear was out so I didn’t bother with the big black body bags in the fat lady section. I wandered aimlessly in and out of the fat, short, young and old ladies’ clothing. I couldn’t find anything.

And then it happened.

You know the moment. You’ve been shopping- sizes are all wrong, nothing’s on sale, everything is ugly, and the salesperson is invisible.
Then, kismet.

There they were- TWO lone tops hanging on the wall, both long enough to look cute over a pair of skinny jeans but still fitted where it wouldn’t look like I had bought them at the tent and awning company.

I approached with stealth. It might be a trap. Was this the maternity section? I reached out my hand and grabbed a tag. Not only were they both in my size, the colors were great! AND they were on sale. CHEAP!

I held each of them up to my body and smiled. CUTE! I’d buy both.

“WAIT!” my mind interrupted. “You have to try them on.”

“Shut UP!” I said, probably out loud. I was tired of shopping and wanted to go home.

“No, seriously,” my mind shouted. “You made the rule. You have to.”

“Really?” I thought, trying to weasel out of it. “They are JUST TOPS. Look at them.” But, much against my will, I headed to a smelly, ice-cold dressing room.

You’ve been there, right? You check-in with an 87-pound, sneering, teenage girl wearing a size zero outfit who unlocks a door, snottily eyeballs your item, and says, “Throw it over the door when you need a larger size.” Huh! I’d use Crisco to get it on before admitting to her that it didn’t fit.

The room was the size of a toilet bowl with nowhere to maneuver. I finally managed to make a nest and wiggled into one of the cute new tops. Except when I turned around facing the mirror I realized it wasn’t a top… it was a dress. And it hit the middle of my thighs, which wasn’t a pretty sight. “Dang!” my mind said out loud.

“You need another size?” Twiggy called outside my door.

“No, this small’s WAY too big for me,” I answered her. My mind said, “And, my thigh dimples don’t like the color either.”

I was reaching behind my back to grab the zipper, hoping to shed the dress quickly, when my leg cramped, sending me crashing into the mirror. I brayed softly like a cow in labor. As I quivered, shook, stomped and snorted, the kid in the hall probably thought I was giving birth. She offered up a tentative, “Lady?”

It was a painful and loud 10 minutes of thrashing in that tiny dressing room. When I finally emerged, limping, to hand over the dresses, I felt I owed the big-eyed teen some kind of explanation. “Allergic,” I said off-handedly.

I think that covered everything.