(S)mall Letdown

Back in 2008, the trumpets sounded as Nordstrom announced it was going to grace our little mall with an anchor store. ‘Hooray,’ shouted all of the townswomen, ‘we’ll finally have a retail outlet that makes us feel like we’re part of the NYC elite! When? When will the doors of our sparkling new shopping mecca finally open and make all of our retail dreams come true?!?’

Wait…what? Spring 2011?? Pfft.

Whatever. Worked out fine for me because shopping has taken a backseat to Q-tipping my ears on my list of favorite activities.

Favorite Activities
Catching up on DVR
Sitting in the sun
Playing Words With Friends
Reading chick lit
Drinking fizzy water
Chewing gum
Q-Tipping my ears

Over the past three years, our little mall has transformed itself from an ugly (at times scary) duckling into a graceful swan in giddy anticipation of Nordstrom’s arrival. Once on the verge of bankruptcy, the owners completely remodeled our humble mall and turned it into a thing of beauty.  They even lured a few other trendy, upscale establishments like Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Michael Kors, Sephora and White House Black Market, lest The Duchess of Fashion feel as though she were surrounded by a bunch of white-trash street thugs like Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Piercing Pagoda, Cinnabon and Spencer’s Gifts.

(Target? Pay no mind to the Target anchor store, Duchess. It’s there to remind you of your superiority.)

With great fanfare, The Duchess opened her doors early last month and invited the masses to sample her wares. But I stayed home.

Puh, thought I, I’ll be damned if I’m going to run to a department store and carry on like a 1960s schoolgirl at a Beatles concert.  I have no need for Nordstrom or any other store in that heavenly horrible place!

That all changed last Saturday.

I didn’t really intend to visit The Duchess. I have lived a peaceful, happy existence without ever having crossed her threshold.  Unfortunately, I have a fundraiser to attend this week.  I’ve known about it for months (and by ‘known about it’, I mean ‘sat on the Event Committee’), but I’ve been putting off my wardrobe selection and pretending (wishing? praying?) that they would announce that this would be the inaugural ‘pajama theme’ year. But, alas, that was not in the cards. So, off I went to Kohl’s…then Marshall’s…then TJMaxx. Anything to avoid the mall.

Did I ever mention that there was a time in my life when the mall was my very favorite place on the planet? A second home? My happy place? My husband proposed to me at the mall. That’s right. One knee, fountain outside of Strawbridge’s, jewelry store bag (and receipt) still in his hand. Try not to swoon.

Things have changed. The stores that once brought me comfort (and pretty things!) now hurl insults at me as I walk by. Their faceless, sexless mannequins trick me into believing that the pretty/sexy/form-fitting outfits pinned onto their stick-like frames will fit my curves.

Having struck out at the aforementioned stores, I decided to bite the bullet and visit my old frenemy.

As I navigated the parking lot and (miraculously) found a reasonably close spot, I was a little surprised by how excited I was about visiting The Duchess. I walked in through the East entrance (handbags) and headed straight for their famous shoe department (cue choir of angels) where I promptly fell in love with no fewer than 15 pairs of shoes. Unfortunately, they were all a little bit out of my price range.

Quick question – How tacky is it to flip a shoe over and gasp audibly at the price?

I decided it would be best to find a dress before picking the shoes, so I headed upstairs to the dress department. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was surprised at the limited selection. The store isn’t anywhere near as big as I thought it was going to be. Also, step off, salesgirls! Holy Hannah! I know you’re just trying to do your job, but there are only about 16 dresses to choose from; I think I can manage.

After analyzing the style, color and length of each dress for what seemed like an eternity, I was approached by a tiny waif of a girl in the dress department.

Waif: (hopeful and happy) Can I help you find something?
Me: (exhausted and embittered…deep breath) Yes, actually. I’m trying to find something that will hide my enormous belly.
Waif: (laughing nervously) What are you talking about? You have a beautiful figure!
Me: Don’t mock me, you patronizing little snot. (OK, I didn’t say it, but I was definitely thinking it.)
Me: Haha. Right. I’d like to also hide my chubby knees, if possible.
Waif: I know this sounds crazy, but you should look for something that cinches at the side of the waist. You’d be surprised at how much that hides. There’s a red Calvin Klein dress somewhere around here. Let me see if I can find it for you.
Me: Oh. I don’t know if red is going to work with my coloring. I’d rather have something in black. Perhaps a burka? Do you carry burkas? (OK, I didn’t say that last part, but I’m totally voting for a gender oppression theme for next year’s event).

Two seconds later, she shows up with a candy-apple red, form-fitting Calvin Klein dress that cinched at the waist. In a size 6. It took everything I had not to slap her. Instead I thanked her for her time and walked down the escalator, past the shoes (shut up singing angels!) and straight out to my car.

I don’t think my belly and I will be visiting the mall again anytime soon. Unless, of course, we get a hankering for a yummy white-trash Cinnabon.


4 thoughts on “(S)mall Letdown

  1. Donna, this is the best one yet! Probably because I too was there for the first time on a whim (not really) that day.I have to attend the Derby this weekend, already have a dress and was second guessing myself – which happens when I don’t put a lot of effort into what I am wearing. I am a shoe whore (men and women it makes no difference) I love them all (even to just look and I have been know to actually talk out loud to no one as I rate them). Their women’s dress department was more than disappointing but the “angels did sing” every time I walked by the shoe department.

  2. So glad you posted early. I’m in for a day from hell and this well help me chuckle through it. Have a great day! I think you may be better off with a pair of those black slacks that flare out and a sparkly top. Then you just switch the tops out for each event or wear sweats and tell them you’re job is to clean up after the event.

    Good luck with the shopping.


    • I ended up getting a really cute dress that miraculously hid all of my flaws and created the illusion that I weighed about 17lbs less at Boscov’s for only $100 (that’s a steal compared to what Nordstrom wanted for dresses that might as well have had flashing lights around my figure flaws). 🙂

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