“Excuse me; do you have this in a Tall size?” I questioned the sales clerk. It was not the first time I’d carried my six foot frame into a department store and asked that question. I had already been in this one for four hours, trying on different clothes and styles and brands. They all fell short, literally. Whenever a blouse’s description includes the words “falls at hip”, I always wonder whose hip they measured.
“I’m sorry, no. But I think you can order it from our website.” The clerk tried to sound hopeful and cheery with this last, but I knew better than to hope. Shopping is always such a hassle. It’s bad enough in person, but internet shopping is the worst.
Trudging my way to a shoe store across the mall, I wondered if maybe this shopping experience might be the one that pays off. I had barely entered the doorway when I was met by a sales clerk offering assistance.
“I don’t know – maybe you can save me some time. Do you have anything in the store, women’s, size nine and a half, extra wide?”
The clerk’s eyes glazed over and his face fell. “No, I’m sorry – we don’t carry that size.” And in a more cheerful tone that mimicked the lady at the department store, “Maybe you can find what you need from our website!”
My frustration was growing. This is why I rarely go shopping. I had occasionally managed to find a random pair of jeans that would fit my thirty-four inch inseam, but was never able to find a nice blouse to go with them.
Sometimes the best I can do is to shop in the men’s department for tops. They have some nice sweaters, but anything else just looks too masculine on me. I am made with shoulders that are just a little too broad and legs that are just a little too long. Buying suits is next to impossible without some major pre-planning and phoning around in an effort to find some company that might assist me.
I often wonder where men who dress in drag get their clothes. These are men, walking around in women’s clothes that seem to fit them well, and I can’t find a blouse. Dejected, and refusing to stop in yet another store, I made my way past all those shops that cater to smaller women, past all the shoe stores that cater to smaller feet, and on to my car. I wanted to go to the post office to pick up my mail on the way home. At least that was something I could accomplish for the day.
My key twisted in the lock and the door popped open. I removed three red Netflix envelopes, two bills, and a catalog from a major department store. Yeah, like that was going to be some help. I needed a new blouse that day and had just spent a few hours at the mall trying to find one, from numerous stores, to fit my large frame. I’d spent four of those hours in one of the larger retailers, the authors of the catalog in my hand, and left without buying a single item. I was resigned to piece something together from my own closet, and maybe dress in layers so no one would notice the men’s shirt I wore underneath. Maybe I could pretty something up with a colorful scarf.
The catalog haunted me all the way home from its place on the passenger seat. I had called that store’s customer service number numerous times inquiring about a taller size in this blouse, or a taller size in that shirt, or that suit. They’d never been able to assist me.
I was glad to be home, although I still felt pretty badly about my shopping experience. And still I couldn’t help myself. From the comfort of my recliner I flipped through the pages of the catalog. Right there on page four was an ad for ladies’ jeans with a size thirty-six inch inseam. I only needed a thirty-four. I threw the magazine against the far wall, its pages flapping in the air matching the anger and frustration I felt. How many times had I called them to ask about thirty-fours, and they’d told me no?
I flung myself out of the recliner, stomped over to the cradled phone, and retrieved both it and the magazine that had skittered to the floor. I searched for the toll-free number that would put me in touch with these liars again.
“Hi, yes, I’m calling about these jeans that are advertised with a size thirty-six inch inseam.”
“Yes, how may I help you? Would you like to place an order?”
“Well, yes, but not for the jeans. What I want are the blouses that fit the woman who wears these jeans. I’ll take one in every style, in each color available, and I’ll pay cash.”
Then, with hesitation, “You want what?”
“I’m sorry; I thought I was speaking clearly into the phone. The jeans that your company makes in a size thirty-six inch inseam – for women – are you with me so far?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“Well, those jeans have to fit somebody, right?”
“Who is she and what is she wearing to cover her top? Is she walking around in her bra all day or does she have nice tops to wear?”
“Are you being serious?” The lady treated me like I was the Unabomber or something.
“Yes! I’m serious! The lady who wears a thirty-six inch inseam has tops in her closet. I want to know where she got them, how I can get them, and how much they are. If your company makes these jeans, then they have to have thought about the tops the same woman would want, correct?”
“Ma’am, I don’t think we have what you’re looking for.”
“Can I talk to someone who makes these decisions?”
“The decisions about what your company makes and what gets put into their catalog.”
“I don’t think so, but if there’s something *I* can help you with…”
“That’s what I’m trying to do. Do you know I spent four hours in your department store today?”
“I’m sorry, no. Were you not happy with the selection?”
“What selection? You had a men’s department, a kids’ department, and four ladies’ departments – Juniors, Misses, Women’s, and Petite. Your Petite department was the largest of the four, and nobody was shopping there. There were more women in that store who look like me than who look like these women in the catalog. They also left without spending any money. So my question is simple – if your company can make a thirty-six inch inseam in jeans, then they know there’s a call for that, right? And if there’s a demand for THAT, what makes them think there’s no demand for tops that will also fit the woman who needs them?”
Now she’s stifling giggles and I wonder if I’ve been put on speaker phone so the lady’s buddies at the call center can hear me rant and rave. “I think I understand.”
“I don’t think you do. I want to order a top in every style, in every color, that fits the woman who wears a thirty-six inch inseam. I’ll pay cash.”
In fits of laughter that are soon followed by a click and a resounding silence, I realize that the call has been disconnected. I am certain it was not by accident.
Some day I’ll do an internet search for drag shops; right now I’m just too angry. Or maybe I’ll consider learning how to sew so I can open my own.
A lady needs someplace to shop after all.