Sunday, 6 May 2012
As I rifled through the rail of mostly black clothes I noticed a middle-aged woman opposite me doing the same thing. An intense frown upon her forehead, mirroring the one on mine, as we both flicked at a rate of knots through the "Made in Cambodia" items, looking for something, anything to divert our attention. I paused, checked the label on a pair of trousers, resumed rifling. I paused again, to test the stretch of a material, before removing the item and hooking it over my forearm, returning to my forensic exam of the clothing rail, searching for nothing in particular in a very hurried way. The lady opposite walked off, obviously disheartened at not finding whatever it was she was looking for. Is this what we've come to now, on a Sunday evening, the leisurely pursuit of shopping has replaced the dances, the visiting neighbours, the chats by the fireside. So intent were we, and such city dwellers, that we were never to connect, not idly bumping elbows nor both hands grabbing the same garment would have drawn a word, an ironic smile nor even eye contact from either of us. These are the unspoken rules in urban society. Ignore. Connect at your peril. To hazard a comment would put the speaker in the realm of "strange", and would hastily bid a retreat.
So I tried on 10 garments, in two lots as the maximum allowed was 7. The nice young boy in the fitting rooms had his work cut out for him, the shop was packed and he was forever rehanging and straightening items, while fielding the line of impatient shoppers. Sure I looked like Elle McPherson in the mirrors, all tanned and long lean legs. Where is my pasty skin, my mottled red upper arms, my cellulite dimpled thighs? Airbrushed out by the magic of H&M's mirrors that's where. I didn't fall for the magic mirror trick, so left the shop empty-handed, the peach shorts would certainly have had no place in my wardrobe, and were probably paper-thin in "real life". But caught up in the buzz of the hunt they'd been the "must-have" for a good ten minutes.
I am a shop's best dream as opposed to worst nightmare. I fall for the placement of the goods, by the door, on the right, or wherever they place the ones designed to lure you in. The carefully selected music gets my blood pumping, and I move rashly from one rail to the next, looking for everything and nothing, trying to see everything before the other shoppers pick up the last one in my size. Here it is, the last dress of it's kind, in my size. Try it on. Gorgeous. Do I have any shoes / bag / jacket / cardigan at home to go with it? No. Do I have an occasion in mind to wear it for? No. Can I afford it? No. Is it on sale? Yes. Would I spend 30 quid on this if it wasn't half price? No. Can I even breastfeed from the neckline? (Squeezes a boob up and over) Just about. I'll take it. That's it above.
Am I a schmuck? Answers on a postcard.