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December 16, 2011

Earrings always fit

Yesterday I was at the mall returning a T-shirt. I'm not sure which Einstein in the fashion world thought it was a good idea to create a black T-shirt that requires dry cleaning but I can assure you, dear friends at Macy's, no matter how cute that little top is I will not be dry cleaning a shapeless pocket-front T-shirt.

While I was standing at the sales desk waiting for my return to be processed a man approached the sales clerk.

"What size is a large?" he asked, holding up a dress for the clerk to see. "Is this a large?"

She checked the tag inside.

"Large is really more, well, anything starting at size eight and up is the large range," she said. "Eight, ten, twelve..."

I must have cocked my head to the side like a puzzled basset hound. A size eight is a large? Perhaps my brain was working so hard on digesting it that I made noise, because the man looked right at me.

"What size are you?" he asked.

"UH. WELL," I said. "It often depends on the item."

(And the crowd goes wild, with an excellent save from Perry out of left field!)

The poor man was just standing there, holding up a hanger with a black dress, looking exhausted and defeated by the mysterious world of women's sizing. And in that moment I felt his pain. Because women's sizing is just ridiculous and it's Christmas and anyway the fourteen-year-old sales girl thinks a size eight is a LARGE.

"OK," I said. I turned to face him. "Is she smaller than I am? Or bigger?"

"Oh thank you," he said. "I'm completely lost here." He scrutinized me for a minute.

"She's taller than you are," he said. "And she's definitely bigger than you are. Maybe not on top but bigger in the middle."

The clerk made a little giggle and the man suddenly realized what he'd just said. His face started to turn red. I couldn't help it. I laughed.

"Well let's all be glad you're not lingerie shopping today," I said. "OK, if she's taller this isn't the right section anyway, this is all petites. Is it a gift? Does she need a dress for sure?"

"She likes dresses," he said. "Petites? I don't understand. Where does it even say that?" His voice had taken on the desperate sound of a man who had hit the shopping wall. He was out of oomph, his shoulders dropped even deeper into his collarbone. He'd been beaten.

In a moment of Christmas kindness I decided to level with the poor man.

"Look, unless you know for sure she needs a dress and unless you know her size and favorite style and unless you can be absolutely certain she won't clock you for buying her a LARGE, therefore telling her she is a LARGE, I highly recommend you go with jewelry. You can never, ever go wrong with jewelry," I said. "Or a gift card. One size fits all."

It was like seeing a man come out of a fugue state. He must have been trapped in the dresses section of the Sherman Oaks Macy's for a lifetime because the look of pure gratitude on his face was something out of coffee commercial. In that one moment you could see his brain forever abandon the gift of clothing, perhaps remembering some time in the not-so-distant past when his wife or girlfriend or concubine surprise-attacked him with a stealth does this dress make me look fat, honey?

"You're right," he said. "THIS IS NUTS."

"Jewelry is one floor down," said the helpful size-zero clerk, the one who believes a size eight is a tent dress. She handed me my return receipt and the man handed her the now-abandoned dress.

"OH! And just for the record," I said, smiling, "a size eight is a solid medium. It is definitely a MEDIUM."

Good grief, people.

Posted by laurie at December 16, 2011 7:24 AM