After spending a few minutes looking for someone that looked like they had keys on them, I (sheepishly) realized that the door to the dressing room was unlocked. I mentally slapped myself upside the head and continued with the task I had set myself up for—complete thrift store domination. The signs said five items per room and I said, “Kiss my grits.”
I shoved all of my precious items inside of the dressing room, hoarding like I was Gollum. I have this irrational (or maybe all too real) fear that there’s some random customer at each store just waiting to shuffle through all of the unattended baskets of people trying clothes on. Well, that phantom wasn’t going to rain on my parade today—I was taking all of my shit in there with me. Shoving the door shut behind me, it finally dawned on me that I was in the Ritz-Carlton of thrift store dressing rooms. There was enough room for me to make a full 360 degree turn, and there were two (yes, two) hooks for me to hang my clothes on. You could have knocked me over with a feather. It’s usually so tight inside one of those phone booths that I’m usually knocking items onto the floor. This time things seemed to be going really well.
Now, trying on pants is never my favorite thing to do ever, so I always save that fun time for last. I quickly stripped off my shirt and began the process of trying the blouses on. It was a testament to how happy and satisfied I was at the moment that I didn’t even take a second to scope out the trajectory of any lights or fixtures above me that occasionally make me think I’m being recorded. I don’t object on the grounds of just being secretly filmed (even though I really do), but more on the grounds of getting secretly recorded and then becoming someone’s hilarious party video, unknowingly humiliated while I shimmy myself into various gear that isn’t necessarily suited to my body type. I ain’t nobody’s party highlight. Well, unless I give my express consent, anyway.
Every single shirt that I tried on fit me perfectly. It was a freaking miracle. The hook that I used to hold the clothes that I had decided to buy was starting to crack under the strain of six and seven hangers of clothes. The smile that had been developing over the ten minutes I was in there was threatening to burst my cheeks and I even did a little leap and silent fist pump to the sky. I wanted to find my mom and show her one of the shirts I had on but after peeking my head out of the door I realized that she was still on the other side of the store. There was no way I was going to be strutting around the store in borrowed clothes—didn’t matter that I was going to own that very garment in about twenty minutes anyway and that my plan was to wear them in public someday. I took my victory back into the room and moved on to trying on the pants.
You probably wouldn’t know it to listen to me talk, but I always get a little self-conscious when taking off my pants. Usually because a) I almost always have some kind of hole in my socks and I’m convinced that there’s someone with a foot fetish watching my feet from under the door and 2) I feel that I am daring people to think about the large girl in the dressing room that is standing in her underwear. Yes, I really am stripping inside of a box with an unforgiving mirror and industrial strength florescent lights—so get over it. Well, maybe I should get over it first.
Believe it or not, every single pair of pants I took in with me fit me just as perfectly as the tops did. I was beginning to think that I was being Punk’d when, for some unfathomable and completely foreign reason, I managed to get my thoughts under control and just thanked my lucky stars that I was finally having the shopping day of my dreams. Maybe a little too good of a shopping day though, because my bargain shopping budget was already shot and I was heading dangerously towards spending “mall” amounts of money. Of course, I was getting about twenty pieces of clothes for the price of one, but that didn’t matter too much anyway because I was going to live in the moment and snatch everything that seemed to be coming to me.
I neatly took the clothes off of their hangers (a job that has never garnished me a thank you from any thrift store worker) and piled everything in my basket. I looked into my fantastical trove of blouses, and trousers, and Simmons (oh my) and felt that I couldn’t have asked for a better day. I scooped up my mom (who had been in the middle of her own fascinating thrift store experience with a chatty elderly woman) and we headed to the checkout line. Twenty five dollars later and I had an entirely new spring wardrobe. Yay, me! We hightailed it to the car and moved on to the next stop on the list.
Perhaps it should have dawned on me that the weather was taking a turn for the worse and essentially mirroring my emotional ups and downs of the day. When we went into the first store it was quite sunny and comfortable and by the time we got out it was starting to get a little windy and chilly. It looked like snow might be in the works but it was holding off for just a little bit while we worked our way a few miles south. We finally found the parking lot of the store we were looking for and it ended up just being a donation center. I was pretty bummed out because I was pretty sure that I could feel the good mojo beginning to slide off of me and the good fortune of my day wandering off to a much more deserving person. We checked the list for store number three and headed off.
The neighborhood wasn’t quite as swanky as the last (it wasn’t even half way close) and I managed to miss both entrances to the parking lot. The pavement was riddled with holes that were filled with water because, shit, it had started to sleet. I’d prefer to say it was raining, but when water falling from the sky is that freaking cold, its sleet. We made a mad dash for the inside and were met by the completely unexpected sight of rush hour at the thrifty mart. The building was old and it was so small that there was barely enough room for two people to walk past each other without becoming best friends. And every single one of those lanes was filled. I don’t know if it was the weather that brought them in there (in Denver it seems that if it’s cold, wet and inconvenient to get around people jump in their cars and go places) but it was busy on a scale that I was not prepared for. Yep, my mojo was gone.
Mom slipped away to do her thing and I headed over to the plus size department. It took me a minute to get near the shirts because of all of the people hovering right where I needed to be, so I started looking at the women’s shoes instead. The merchandise was clean but it was complete chaos compared to where I had just been. But I was still clinging onto the hope that I would still be able to find a good bargain or two to add to my coup from an hour before. I found a pair of bedazzled flip flops one size two small that I almost convinced myself I was going to die if I didn’t buy them but sanity prevailed before they actually saw the inside of my cart. (Yes, I had a cart. I was being optimistic.) After much maneuvering and stomach sucking (to squeeze past the others) I found myself in the land of the big girl.
I’m sad to report that there wasn’t jack there for me to buy. I guess I could have opted for the purple tent dress that was three sizes too bit for me, but even I knew that was a bit much. I decided to meander over to the “regular” sized blouses and see what I could find in the XL section. Like I said, I was being optimistic. I found a lovely white shirt that I hoped might fit me well and threw it in my basket. I kept eyeballing it as I went down the aisle though, because I am not the kind of person that should be wearing white. I love Taco Bell too much and I have boobs that catch pieces of everything I put in my mouth. It was just asking for trouble. Plus, I wasn’t so far gone in la-la land that I didn’t know that it would probably make me look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. But, I just wanted to give it a try.
So I left it in the basket as I made my way through unfamiliar “regular” clothes territory. I managed to find a few more cute shirts and decided that I needed to make my move if I was ever going to actually get inside of one of the two dressing rooms available to the public. I saw a woman and her two kids sidle out of one room and I slid in behind them before they even knew I was there. Didn’t know I was a ninja, did you? I got the stink eye from another lady that was nearby and I’m not quite sure it’s because I beat her to the room or because she was a dressing room Nazi that noticed that I had six items instead of the requested five. Either way, I ignored her static and locked myself in my new sanctuary.
It was pretty obvious that I was in the Motel 6 of thrift store dressing rooms. There weren’t any hooks on the walls and only one dilapidated chair that kept wobbling because one of the legs wasn’t as long as the others. The mirror had a slight curve and made my body look like the naked man in the game Operation. I looked just about as happy as he did. I definitely felt the need to check all around me for hidden secret cameras, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway because the lighting was so bad that they would never have gotten a clean shot anyway. It was actually kind of comforting light for me because it made my shabby bra look much nicer than it really was. I was ready for the next round.
Of course, I’m sure you can guess what happened next. Not one of the items that I had carefully chosen out of the “regular” people clothes fit me. Not even close. I began to berate myself for being such a loser and my eyes started to fill up with tears. I bemoaned how I had let myself get to such a lowly state and told myself that I didn’t deserve to have new things. It was about this time that I noticed that I hadn’t tried on my white shirt yet. I was still on the fence about whether it was something that I would ever truly wear but I knew that I needed a small victory to get me through the rest of my shopping day. I dragged on the shirt and realized that it fit me perfectly. It went a small way towards making me feel better, but it didn’t patch me up completely. I was very grateful to that shirt and I decided to take it home as a reward for helping me out. It wasn’t unlike taking an unwanted dog home from the pound. It totally should have been grateful to me.
I poked my way through all of the VHS tapes and couldn’t find one title that I was willing to spend my .99 cents on. I was ready to go home and, thankfully, so was my mom. I forked over my four dollars and trudged to the front of the store. The sleet (okay, rain) was worse than ever and I knew that I would be having a long drive in freezing clothes for the next half hour. How in the hell did my day turn into this frustration? I could only be glad to be going home. I ran to the car so that I could bring it around to my mom (still in the store) and managed to park just far enough from the curb for her to have to walk in a huge puddle. That pretty much summed up my experiences of the day—so close, yet so far away.
Since we were in an unfamiliar neighborhood I had to rely on my super navigating skills to get us back onto the highway and headed back home. I only had to turn around two times. I’m a freaking genius. The sleet turned to snow and my heater couldn’t work hard enough to keep me warm. I was still thankful that my mom had spent the time with me and that I had great success at the first store, but my smile was pretty much non-existent. I finally got my mom home safely, threw her out of the passenger door, and made my long ride home. I wasn’t feeling nearly as triumphant as I had that morning and by the time I got home I didn’t really care about anything in the bag anymore. I threw it on my bed, grabbed my biggest and comfiest blankie and curled up in front of the television. I would deal with that stuff later.
My hubby and my son finally made it home from work and school and I grudgingly got out of my warm cocoon. They asked me if I had a good day and I slowly realized that I really had. (Surprised me, too.) I suddenly had an interest in sharing everything I bought that day. Let me show you what I did! Let me show you what I spent! Let me tell you about the miracle morning! The boy lasted through about three shirts before he took off to play Minecraft, but the hubby stayed and praised everything I bought.
I began to feel happy again and as I started taking off tags and putting my newest family members in the hamper for washing I realized that I was just being a big baby. Life was good, really good, and I should have been more grateful for that. It ended up being quite the day of ups and downs and I’m really, really happy to say that it ended on an up. (However, I’ve decided that all day thrift store extravaganzas are not for me. Oh well.)
© DRB 2016