I went shopping for a pair of dress slacks at Macy's the other day. Though my history of shopping at Macy's is limited, I am confident in my assessment that this once grand lady of department stores has lost her luster and, at least in my particular American suburb, is not aging gracefully.
The first thing I noticed when I walked in was that there had been some sort of explosion of spring and summer pastel colors and criss-crossy checkered patterns over all the clothing; it was as if the Easter Bunny had hopped in and thrown up all over everything and no one had bothered to clean it up. I don't recall ever seeing anyone dress in these types of M&M candy-colored clothes, but I'll know where they came from when I do.
The next thing I experienced was the 'bomb shelter after an air raid' state of things: clothes tossed everywhere in various stages of disarray along with abandoned racks of clothing waiting for a shelf to call home before being unceremoniously thrown to the floor by an angry shopper who can't wear 'slim fit'. Ah yes, slim fit: everything is slim fit now, which, after further review, I'm guessing is some sort of collusive effort between clothing manufacturers, diet meal plans, your local membership health club, and chain restaurants that serve over-sized 'American portions'. It goes like this: gain weight, sign up for the gym and have diet meals delivered to your house with hopes of fitting into new slim fit clothes; an unrealistic goal for most of us, which is why they still make 'relaxed fit'.
When I realized I was in the 'hey old man you're in the wrong section' section, I wandered aimlessly until I found the 'now you're in the old man section' section only to find more slim fit clothes. Slim fit suits just look wrong to me, and I honestly don't think it's envy on my part based on the fact that the days of me wearing anything slim fit are long gone. Frank and Dean and Sammy didn't wear slim fit suits. They were thin. There's a difference. Elvis? Relaxed fit, for sure.
One of the many things I was quickly reminded of in my shopping experience was 'never trust a hanger', meaning that just because the hanger says 'large', the odds are greater that the clothing on that hanger is anything but 'large'; it might as well say 'hot dog' or 'beer' or anything else to remind you why you'll never fit into anything labeled 'slim fit'. Experienced women shoppers probably know this already; I'm guessing this information has been handed down through generations of women shoppers who take their sport very seriously, similar to the father who tells his son to never get a beer or hot dog at the stand nearest the gate when you come into the ball park because that one is the most crowded. Simple and basic truths for the real world.
I had asked an experienced shopper friend to meet me at the store, but she wasn't there yet (fashionably late?), and of course, there were no sales people to help me sift through the piles of clothing ruble for my size and style. As far as I could tell, the two people working there were attending to the registers (no longer 'cash' registers) and the lines of 14 people each. I was on my own...and beginning to sweat.
I was in such a state of mental and physical exhaustion by the time I got to the fitting room (no longer the 'dressing room') that I just wanted the whole exercise to be over. Ten minutes in the fitting room and it was then I realized I was standing there in my underwear staring at six pairs of pants and three of them were the exact same size, color, and brand. When I came out of the fitting room (yes, with pants on), my experienced shopper friend was sitting there, and when she saw my red faced exhaustion, she shook her head slightly and sighed at my rookie failings. "What size?" she barked. I mumbled something about my estimates at size conversion numbers between regular and slim fit, then I began a disjointed ramble about how they now make pants that purposely sit below your waist (do you still need one hand to hold them up? - my mind was racing!). When I finished my speech on the state of modern clothing styles, I noticed she was gone, but by the time I had made some sense of what I was doing back in the fitting room, she opened the door and threw in two pairs of the exact pants I had been searching for along with a different (non-M&M) color option. "Anything else?" she asked. I managed a sheepish "No thanks." I was dizzy and beginning to dehydrate.
When it was finally our turn at the register, my shopper friend whipped out a coupon from her purse like a ninja unsheathing a sword and plopped it down on my purchase. The lady working the register never blinked and quickly snatched up the coupon; it was as if they were playing a commerce version of 'go fish'. I stood there with my mouth open and eyes dilated. Then, as if suddenly presented with a karmic reward for my suffering and her diligence, we saw the price for one of the pair of pants come up on the register screen with the wrong (much cheaper) price. I looked self-consciously at my personal shopper, but she never took her eyes off the register lady as she mentally commanded her to finish our transaction by using her powers of shopping telepathy (I could hear her thinking "There is nothing wrong with the price of those pants.") Though I was briefly worried about enlisting karmic payback for purchasing mislabeled goods, at this point, having been rendered dumb(er) by the whole experience, I said nothing.
I barely remember finishing what I can only hope was my final experience at the local
mall as I staggered out to my car with a few scattered thoughts:
1) Amazon: shop while drinking
2) FedEx: receive your purchase in your bathrobe
3) If Macy's goes under, will Amazon take over their Thanksgiving Day parade?
4) I bet the dancers they hire in the parade are the only ones left that can wear slim fit.
5) Maybe I should start working out?
6) Fuck that; what's for dinner?
Ken Owen Van Niddy Press June 2015