Happy Birthday

The singing waiters sang  “Happy Birthday” to me in the Red Lobster as the free vanilla ice cream with whipped cream was brought to my table.

They had pleasant voices and had been called into service numerous times because in the short time my family sat at the table we heard at least five or six neighboring “Happy Birthday” tunes at other tables.

The highlight of the day was finding two clothing items I could buy in Boscov’s. Is there a Boscov’s near you? My mother wanted to get me a birthday gift so took me to this store that anchors a shopping mall.

What is the attraction to cheaply made and poorly constructed chain store garments? If you can’t afford better clothes shopping here only makes sense if the clothes are on sale.

My mother balked because one of the items–a simple blue tee shirt–was originally marked $38 dollars. How could that be you wonder? A tee shirt that costs $38 dollars and it’s not in Target or H&M? Luckily it was on sale for $15 dollars.

Numerous trips to the dressing room proved almost futile. For starters, the smallest size jeans in Boscov’s are often a 4 or 6 so they’re too big for me. (The horror–you’re laughing at this. Go on, laugh.)

Anyway, a size 6P pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans fit so I snatched them up before anyone else could take them.

A woman came out of the dressing room and told me: “These pants don’t fit. I’ve gained weight. Yet I refuse to buy a larger size.”

Honey, I wanted to say, the size on a clothing tag is no measure of your worth or whether you should like yourself or how you look.

I thought the woman who came out of the dressing room looked beautiful. She didn’t look sloppy or slovenly to me, which is what counts more than what you weigh.

By the way, I have gone into H&M and couldn’t fit into their size 8 regular pants. Only a Barbie Doll could fit into those pants. They were a size 8 regular and I couldn’t get them over my knee.

Have I now convinced you female readers once and for all that sizing is arbitrary and makes no difference as long as you LOOK GOOD in your clothes?

Submitted for your amusement–because it amuses the heck out of me–is that now I’m the proud owner of four different sizes of jeans hanging in my closet. I own a 0P, a 2P, a 4P, and now a 6P–all Petite sizes no clowning around so this shouldn’t garner me any sympathy.

Yet this panoply of clothing sizes should make it clear that the number on a tag is arbitrary. With good reason you might ask what causes this variation in sizes? Well, it is laughable more than anything that one woman could fit into four different sizes.

Which proves that not only is age only a number–I’m 52 now–the size on a clothing tag is only a number.

I wish the woman who came out of the dressing room could’ve seen it in her heart to buy the next size up in the pants. The pants really did flatter her–I saw her in the smaller size and she already looked good in them.

Retail stores are closing down all over the place. Penney’s is closing something like 123 stores this year. You wonder why? The clothing looks cheap, and finding clothes that fit and flatter is near impossible.

If video killed the radio star according a song in the 1980s it’s also true that Alfred Dunner killed retail stores in the 2010s. Alfred Dunner–need I say more?

I do buy cheaper clothes. I only buy clothes with a coupon code of at least 30 percent off. The difference is these clothes don’t look cheap. And you won’t see a mirror image of yourself wearing the same clothes going up and down the street.

It’s possible to look good in clothes that don’t cost a lot of money. You just have to be a detective to track them down. You have to use your eye to see whether the clothes flatter you.

I’ve bought for only $35 after tax online a denim jacket. I’ve bought for $44 dollars after tax from GAP online a pair of jeans. Which makes paying $69 for these items in a no-name chain store really ridiculous.

Cost isn’t the issue. Looking good is the issue. Trust me what woman wants to spend hours in a dressing room trying on pants and jeans and blouses that she winds up looking awful in?

None of the blouses I tried on in Boscov’s fit and flattered by the way. I was glad as heck to get out of that store pronto with two items of clothing that looked good and fit good.

Yes, I’m 52 now.  I’m glad to be 52. And at this point, I doubt I’d care if I gained any weight. How much a woman weighs is besides the point.

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Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She owns a resume writing and career help business. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and a fitness buff.

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