Disclaimer: Lame, Long, But (personally) therapeutic (especially considering the fact I don’t blog)…
I hope William Maugham was onto something when he wrote, “Writing is the supreme solace.” I need to do some venting to relieve this knot of stress in my guts and a speed bag isn’t readily available.
I set aside three hours yesterday between the end of work and the 8:25 start of game 4 to do my fall/winter clothes shopping. I knew from the get go it wasn’t going to be a pleasurable experience – it never is. Since the one local “army-navy” store that readily stocked my size went out-of-business a couple of months ago, I knew this semi-annual excursion to the mall was going to be an especially harrowing one.
Traffic was light and the parking lot was as close to empty as I’ve ever seen it: so far so good. “Let see,” I said to myself as I went over the list of what I need in my head, “6 pairs of jeans, a pair or two of slacks, a few sweaters, a couple of dress shirts and some long sleeve casual tops.”
First Stop: H & M.
A couple things in the window caught my eye. “Can I help you sir?” asked a pimply-faced part-timer as I entered the men’s department. “No thanks,” (and don’t call me sir, I consider adding) as I grabbed a few shirts, several pairs of pants, a couple of mock turtlenecks and a light jacket off the rack. Things were going to smoothly – perhaps too much so. Within 3 minutes I was already trying on the clothes I picked out in the unisex dressing room. ‘I had no idea women were so sloppy’ I thought to myself as I waded through two feet of blouses and skirts strewn all over the floor. I tried on each garment, only to discover none of the ten or so items I’d picked out fit. Sure, the tops were all my size; medium, but alas, the sleeve lengths were all too short – ending about mid-forearm between my elbow and wrist bone. The pants, in 34” length (because they didn’t have 36” lengths), were showing way too much sock. I dutifully decided not to add to the large pile on the dressing room floor and instead neatly returned the stuff I’d tried on back into stock.
‘Oh well,’ I thought to myself, ‘I’m sure to have better luck at the next store.’
Second Stop: The Gap.
Jeans. Even though I’m usually a Levi’s 550 guy, I know the odds of finding 31/36 jeans on the rack at your average retailer or department store is somewhere between slim and none. The Gap sales assistants didn’t even have time to ask if I needed help. I’m quite sure they would have had it not been for the fact I discovered a large ‘stocked size chart’ that hung prominently over the bins within a minute of entering the store. I followed my eye down the waist size column to my length row and saw an asterisk, as opposed to a big X. In small print, below the chart the symbol key informed me that the little * meant I could only buy jeans online from the Gap web site.
‘Hmm,’ I theorized, ‘Perhaps UPS pays a spiff to the Gap to only carry certain sizes.’
Third Stop: Express Men.
Upon entering the store, I was greeted by an attractive floorwalker. “How can I help you?” she pleasantly inquired. “I was wondering if you stock longer-length shirts or pants,” I asked - hiding my growing frustration behind a smile. “If you give me a second, I’ll check with Mario,” she replied. As promised, she returned with Mario, who was no doubt flying around with Peter Pan prior to being tracked down. He took a minute to think about the sizes he stocked as he squinted his eye and then informed me I was S.O.L.
‘The fun’s just beginning,’ I mumbled under my breath as I turned to walk away.
“I recommend you try A&F; who cater to twinks or JC Penny’s; who have a big & tall department,” Mario yelled to me as I left the store.
“Thanks,” I said, “perhaps my prospects at finding something are looking up.”
Forth Stop: Abercrombie & Finch.
What a rip-off. Hooded sweatshirts selling for $70, boxer shorts in every conceivable pattern, t-shirts out the yin-yang and over-priced jeans that look like they were found under the rubble at ground zero. I was desperate and really starting to lose my patience. I was at the point I would have willingly plunked down $60 for a lousy pair of ‘Shacker Straight Legs’ if only they’d had my size.
Fifth Stop: JC Penny’s.
I knew my patience was wearing thin. Even the escalator ride down to the men’s department was grating on my nerves. ‘Why the fuck can’t the standers stay to right like they do in England,’ I thought to myself – imagining the “hey, watch it” and “slow down, buddy” reactions I’d get if I nudged people out of the way and squeezed passed them on the left. Not that I’d ever do such a thing, but the Yankee / Marlins game was less than an hour away. I guess the fact I gave thought to such as notion was some sort of subconscious way of getting over my own misery. Just the prospect of making others aggravated had a somewhat inexplicable, yet calming affect on me.
Hidden in the back left corner in the basement level of the store were the tall men’s sizes. Unfortunately, everything was XXL (or larger) as opposed to MT (medium/tall). I decided to play it safe and take the elevator back up and out of there. Walking down the aisle, I stopped by the huge Levis display bins. I shimmer of hope twinkled in my eye. Not only did they have every conceivable style – from 501 thru 599. Their size selection was much larger than anything I’d seen in the previous 90 minutes. I raced over to the 550’s my heart pounding in the anticipation that they might actually have something my size. Waa-Waaa-Waaaa-Waaaaa. Nope. No 31/36 in 550’s, 501’s or even those annoying styles that you have to unbutton to take a piss. But there was still hope! Much to my delight, they stocked the next best thing: a 32/36. I found four pairs mixed in with throughout the bins and went to try them on. My relief at finally finding something might fit quickly evaporated in the dressing room. Each pair I tried on hung off my ass like the skin on a Shar-Pei’s forehead.
The biggest kick in the groin was yet to come. Upon putting the jeans I’d just tried on back where I’d found them, what I saw next still shocks me to this very moment: At least fifty pairs of low-rise 527 jeans in a size 40” waist / 30” length.
“Who in the hell is the softgoods buyer for the God-forsaken store?” I inquired, rather loudly. A sales assistant came running over to me upon hearing my rhetorical question. “Is everything OK?” he asked. At this point, I’d had enough. “No! It’s not,” I growled. I pointed at the large pile of jeans that piqued my anger and asked, “does your purchasing department have any idea how idiotic anyone who wears that size would look in a pair of low-rise jeans?” No response – just a ‘hold on a second while I find my pepper spray’ expression on his face. “And while I’m at it,” with the million plus dollars in denim inventory on display in front of me, why don’t you carry my size?” I demanded to know. “Well sir,” he politely responded, taking a step back with each word he spoke, “I suggest you try Casual Male Big and Tall.”
Last Stop: Casual Male Big and Tall.
What a scam. Their fashions made me feel like I was in a Men’s Maternity store and their stocked sizes appeared to only range from 4X thru 8X. I was now totally convinced Casual Male just threw the word ‘tall’ into their name so their portly clientele feel more comfortable shopping there. Ironically, the one sales assistant I saw on duty used to be a bartender of mine a few years ago. After catching up and updating one another on things, life, etc., I at least felt like the last 3 hours I spent trekking from store to store wasn’t a complete waste of time. The amount of satisfaction I got from the small-talk didn’t outweigh my shopper’s frustration and I had to get the answer to a question that had eluded me all night. “Richie, where in the fuck am I gonna find clothes that fit correctly - do you have any ideas?” I asked in a very desperate tone. “Your size would be special order only, either that or you can buy from a catalog or through the ‘net” he bluntly responded. I thanked him and raced home to catch the first pitch.
The Ride Home:
The more I thought about, the less I liked Richie’s solution. ‘I don’t want to buy my clothes off the ‘net or from a catalog: I’d prefer to see what the clothes looked like on me as opposed having them shipped parcel post,’ I concluded. ‘Hey, I got an idea, Barney and Jim are both built similar to me, let me ask them where they buy their clothes.’
My cousin Barney, who fortunately was listed in Nextel’s 411 service, picked up the phone on the 1st ring:
“Hello, talk quick, the games starts in 10 minutes,” he said without even knowing who was on the other end on the line.
“Barney, it’s me – your cousin John, what size do you wear?” I asked.
“It’s not my birthday and I’ve seen your wardrobe, so I know you’re not stupid enough to offer me any hand-me-downs” was his smart-ass response.
“I was asking because I’ve just been to half a dozen stores and can’t find anything long enough to fit me,” I replied, totally ignoring his wise-crack.
“I have all my clothes custom-made,” he informed me, “and jeans I buy over the internet.”
“Thanks, I should have expected nothing less from the only wealthy fag in the family,” I concluded.
“You’re welcome…and go fuck yourself, Daddy Longlegs,” he said as he ended the call.
My brother Jimmy, whose wife answers the phone whenever there’s a baseball, football, basketball or hockey game (not to mention every golf tournament) on TV wouldn’t even take my call. His other mother, I mean wife, answered the phone.
“Sue, where does Jimmy buy his clothes?”
“I buy everything for him and the boys.,” she replied.
“Where do you get clothes long enough to fit him?,” I asked.
“JC Penny’s, usually. Why?”
“I was just there and couldn’t find anything that fit.”
“Well if you don’t wanna go to the gym to bulk up, buy them bigger and have them taken in,” she replied. “I bet if you didn’t go and get divorced, Peg would have done it for you. It’s either that or gain some weight - you look too skinny anyway. Speaking of which, did you see….”
Blah-blah-blah, yada-yada-yada. I shut off the cell phone before she could finish her sentence or I could say goodbye.
I decided against going home and made it to the bar by the middle of the first inning - just in time to see the Rocket’s 1st pitch of his last game. The Yanks lost in 12 and I’m still wearing T-shirts today even though it’s 40 degrees here in NY.
I guess I learned a few things from my shopping experience…One I’ll have to repeat this weekend:
[ul]Call the stores first and ask if they stock your size – Letting your fingers do the walking is a whole lot better than leaving the mall empty handed.Women are slobs when it comes to returning clothes that don’t fit them in the dressing room.The older I get, the more I dislike being called sir. But I won’t complain - it sure beats being called douche bag.Anyone who shops at Abercrombie & Fitch needs their head examined.Raising ones voice in a department store seems to be the fastest way to get service.Levi’s practice of making a size 40W/30L in a low rise jean should be outlawed.Big and Tall is a euphemism for Husky and Portly.My cousin Barney is a fashion snob.My brother’s a spoiled rotten punk.My sister-in-law is almost as opinionated as I am – except I don’t nag.Even though I’m not extra-ordinarilly tall (6 2 1/2"), clothing stores don’t see an economic necessity in catering to me.Commissioning a study of the sizes made and sold, but not stocked by clothing retailers, might entice me to open a Tall / Long Size Outlet[/ul]