(For those of you who are checking out this blog for the first time, please know I usually post about God, my family, thoughts on life, hopes, dreams, etc. This is not going to be one of those posts. You may want to come back and check it out another day, especially if you are someone who just got this blog address from our Christmas card. Or if you are seeking something spiritually uplifting. Or if you are my mom.)
It started off with what I thought was a good idea. That is usually where most of my troubles start - I am a genius idea generator, but my execution...well, past experience shows it leaves a little to be desired. Of course, I choose to blame this whole escapade on my friend and sparring partner who shall remain nameless (unless I back myself into too embarrassing a corner and desperately need a proper noun scapegoat). My friend mentioned in passing that she was planning to go to Victoria's Secret to pick up something special for her husband for Christmas. (Not for him to wear, although the longer I am around them and hear their exchanges the more I have learned not to press for specifics.) If you think that this seems like an intimate thing to mention in passing, you need to know that once you have practiced the nine ground positions for MMA with a person (especially position 5), boundaries get blurred and lingerie as a topic is well within the norm. I thought, 'Gee, maybe I ought to surprise Mark with some new lingerie for Christmas. Won't he be surprised?' So we made plans to meet up at the local Victoria's Secret.
And with the formulation of that fairly harmless plan, the wheels already began to fall off.
I drove to the local Victoria's Secret to meet up with my friend, and paused for a few minutes in the car to kill any extra time. Let's face it, I may be 38, have three kids, been married for nearly 13 years, but I did not want to be first to arrive at Victoria's Secret. I can't actually remember a time I have ever shopped at Victoria's Secret, except to buy their Heavenly perfume for myself. It isn't that I never liked their stuff, it is just that I've always felt like I wasn't quite bronzed enough to pull off their runway looks. Plus, I can buy a bra on clearance at a number of other stores for 1/10th the price. But this was Christmas - the time for giving - so I was willing to take a deep breath and go for the good stuff.
Or so I thought.
I put on my metaphorical big girl panties (which, although metaphorical, still cover more of my backside than most of the Victoria's Secret underwear I saw), and went in the store. No friend. I was immediately greeted by a horribly perky 20 something employee asking if she could help me. It took all I had not to put my arm around her and give her a gentle heads up to enjoy that figure while it lasted, because one day she would be me, and be slightly annoyed yet tenderly condescending to a future 20 something version of her perky, perfectly figured self. I smiled instead, and told her I was fine. I began looking around at some of the lingerie, but became instantly uncomfortable with where I thought some of the strings were made to go, so I quickly ducked over to the other side of the store where they sell their PINK clothing line. 'Ah, sweatpants.", I thought. 'I can hang here comfortably.' But I had to move on shortly, because my gasps and eye rolls as I looked at the price for sweatpants (sweatpants!) that was more than my copay to deliver my first child, seemed to make the willing to pay customers uncomfortable and a few more perky 20 something employees slightly annoyed. OK. Will wander over to the bras.
Still no friend.
Now keep in mind that friend doesn't own a cell phone. (No, she's not Amish even though she drinks chunky milk.) So there was no calling her to see where she was or when she would get there. Nope. But I had faith. She'd show. After all, she got us into this mess. I just needed to wait a few more minutes.
I have to admit, I was fascinated by some of the bras. Several had more padding than my couch coushins, and a few even had rhinestones. Rhinestones! Definitely not safe for the breast feeding mother. I did start thinking it would be nice to spend the money for a nice bra - one not off the "additional 60% off" rack.
I continued to wander the store. From bras to panties to lingerie back to what had to be gold threaded sweatpants. At this point every single one of those perky 20 something employees had approached me at least once to see if they could help me. I began to sweat. Literally. I started sweating like a Southern Baptist caught at Happy Hour. I kept trying to remind myself that I was an adult, was married, and it was perfectly fine for me to have been wandering around Victoria's Secret for almost an hour now. But the truth was, after 60 minutes of wandering around looking I was ready to add myself to the sex offender registry.
Still...you guessed it...no friend.
At this point, I knew it was time to fish or cut bait. I desperately wanted to cut bait, but I figured I had come this far (and stood there for an hour), I might as well buy something. I decided to start small with a bra. A good bra. However, unless "an additional 60% off" is a bra size, I had no idea what size to try on. Especially with all the couch cushions and rhinestones.
Finally, my initial 20 something perky greeter checked in with me again, and I confessed sweating and stammering that I was supposed to meet a friend there to buy gifts for our husbands for Christmas, but that friend hadn't shown so I needed to just get this over with myself and could she help me start by picking out a bra. She asked me what size I was. I replied (either in my head or out loud... at this point things started going hazy), "The size that's left over after nursing two babies." She suggested I get measured for a bra. Great idea. So she whips out her tape measure. In the middle of the busy store.
Whoa, there, perky girl. You will not be measuring my bust in a store full of husbands buying perfume for their wives and teenagers who wear gold threaded sweatpants. Apparently, the look on my face said it all because she immediately dropped her tape and said, "Would you be more comfortable being measured in a dressing room?"
No. I would be more comfortable shoving hot irons under my fingernails, but point me to the dressing rooms and I will cling desperately the scrap of dignity I have left.
Perky 20 something dressing room girl, saw me coming (perhaps the profuse sweating was what let her know it was me who needed assistance), and motioned me past the two men standing out side the dressing room waiting for their wives/girlfriends. And about a foot past them, she whips out her measuring tape and began the frisk.
All I could think was, 'Shouldn't we get a room?' while the men looked on. I mentally added them to the offender registry.
Did I mention, still no friend?
Perky dressing room girl (who was all of 19 if she was a day) eventually put me in a dressing room and went to get me some bras to try on. She brought a few back, and told me to try one on and she would check back in with me in a minute. I took a few deep breaths, took off my sweat soaked T-shirt, and put the first bra on.
Oh. My. Goodness.
Now I know they specialize in the uber-sexy, but I swear to you I couldn't tell where my cleavage stopped and my double chin started. This bra had the sisters pushed so far up, I was certain a turtleneck would show cleavage. Perky girl knocked once and came on in to help me out (after all we were close), and she nodded approvingly. Seriously? People wear them like this? I tried to gently point out that I didn't think my boobs should be up over my shoulders, so with a bit of a judgmental sigh, she went to get me a more tamed down version of a bra in a size up to try. The second bra was much, much better. The sisters were where they should be, I didn't feel like I would be collecting dollar bills from strangers, and things looked almost the same as they once did pre-breast feeding. I'd take it.
At this point, I had been in the store for an hour and a half. I was soaking wet with nervous sweat, felt violated (but in a friendly way), and still...no friend. I took a deep breath, headed to the lingerie and vowed to get this over with before I died and my obituary said I croaked in Victoria's Secret.
Perky employee #1 was happy to announce loudly that it looked like I found a bra. Uh-huh. I explained that I wanted to find something for my husband for Christmas, and she began showing me some of their selection. Some I understood. Others seemed like fabric mazes. All cost about half a car payment. But it was, after all, Christmas, and at this point I was committed. I grabbed three, headed back to the dressing room, where perky dressing room girl squealed when she saw I was trying on lingerie, and I quickly ducked for cover into a room.
I will spare you the details of that first try on, but it involved me laughing out loud at several points. I found one thing that I figured I could wear for Mark without snickering, and I got dressed and headed back out to hang up the rejects. Perky girl in the lingerie section saw my selection, and said (as if we were close girlfriends), "Did you consider one of the whole deals? Garters, teddy, stockings?"
What part of that sounded like fun to anyone?
But because I fold under peer pressure in situation of duress I dutifully headed back to the dressing room with something I thought for certain could strangle me, and something I no earthly idea how to put on. Perky dressing room girl was thrilled. The new men waiting for their wives/girlfriends nodded approvingly. They, too, got added to the mental offender registry.
It took me about ten minutes to get the thing on. I will say this, it was something that would've set a mood, but by the time my engineer husband figured out how to get it off, he would be exhausted and annoyed and I would be chaffed in places. I wrestled out of it (using a few of the MMA ground positions to wriggle out), got dressed, handed it to perky dressing room girl, and dashed her hopes with a sweaty, growly, "This would be a 'hell, no'."
I stood in line with my bra and lingerie watching the door for friend, who had missed all the fun. When it came time for me to pay, the perky clerk said, "Did you find everything you were looking for?"
I swear to you, I answered (out loud), "Yes. Everything but my dignity."
A new bra and a small scrap of lingerie cost me half a new iPod touch.
This was, hands down, the most horrific, emotionally scarring shopping experience of my entire life. I knew it would be an experience, but I figured with friend there we would laugh our way through it and survive relatively unscathed. But...no friend.
Now you might think that I was angry with friend for standing me up, but when she called me later that night (from her land line) to ask where I was that afternoon, we realized that she and I went to two different Victoria's Secret stores.
The upside? She had about as bad a time as I did at her store.
The downside? She walked out with nice, comfy flannel pajamas. And her dignity.