Why I hate the mall and other things

Good afternoon folks! How are you all doing? I am so glad you are here! I actually thought of a story I wanted to tell you!

As I mentioned last week, I took a semi-unexpected hiatus from this blog last month to finish writing my novel (By the way, my mom finished it and she said it was fabulous so I know you’re all looking forward to me letting you read it, too.) There was an unfortunate event that happened at some point that I didn’t blog. I’m not sure when it was exactly, either in November or maybe the end of October. Also, not nearly as dire as it sounds but it was irritating and I want to tell you about it now.

As a side gig, the Carlos and I occasionally deal cards for casino parties. It’s a fun thing, you get paid at the end of the night, and the whole atmosphere is pretty awesome as there’s no real money involved. (In Washington state, it’s illegal to gamble for real money outside of casinos, but you can have parties and gamble for prizes.) We’ve been doing this for something like seven or eight years now. Most of these parties happen at the holidays with companies having Christmas parties and such but every now and then there’s a show at another time of the year. There’s a big show that we’ve done about three years in a row now that is a huge fundraiser for a charity in Seattle that assists kids living with AIDS. This is a fun show because there are some local celebrities there (the Carlos dealt for a former Seattle Seahawk quarterback two years in a row!) This show used to happen in June. In fact, it was a sort of weird weekend for us that time as it was the same weekend as the Mother Earth News Fair. That meant that we went to the fairgrounds and hung out with other homesteader types and wanna-bes, learned about keeping bees and milking goats, went home and changed into our fancy dealing clothes, dealt poker for people in Bellevue who were playing poker and bidding on units of Botox in auction, then got up the next morning, went back to the conference and bought seven baby chickens. It was kind of surreal. This year the poker show was in October for some reason and we went and dealt again.

I have mentioned before (I’m pretty sure!) that I quit eating sweet snacks and such almost two years ago and as a result have lost almost 30 pounds. Trust me, if you have talked to me at all in the past year or so I am sure I have told you that multiple times (and thank you so much for always being so gracious about my bragging!) Anyway, because of that, and because we deal these shows so rarely and so just deal with whatever clothes we have, I was in a position where I needed to go get myself a new dealing shirt. The uniform is very simple, black slacks and a white button down formal type shirt and the company supplies us with bowties. So I went to the mall to get a new shirt and I was reminded again why I hate the mall and why I am really really looking forward to that whole homesteading, living out in the middle of nowhere lifestyle. Really.

I walked into the mall to look for my shirt. I went to a store that I used to shop at a lot (I even have a store credit card there) but which carries clothes a bit too big for my current shape. They did not have white button downs. I started walking along the mall and started past one of those kiosks where people try to sell you crap. I always feel bad for those guys when they try to sell to me. For one, if it’s some kind of hair product, they have no idea what they are getting in to. They think that they’ll show me how amazing their hair curler is or whatever, and they have no way of knowing that they are doomed to fail. My hair will not do what they say. It doesn’t matter if they’re trying to use rubber cement and magic, my hair ain’t listening. I am usually kind to those guys and gently don’t let them try to show me their junk. Everyone else, the skin care people or the toys or the calendars or whatever, generally don’t try too hard on me. They probably can tell that I am not interested and I am not giving them my money, so they don’t waste their time. But this bitch was a special sort of evil. As I tried to walk by her stand, she tried to sell me face cleaner of some sort. She was polite and asked me what I use on my face. She came across as polite and interested and I, in my haste to get the hell out of the mall, thought she was paying me a compliment, like oh wow, your face is amazing! How do you do it? I said nothing. She said nothing? I said no, not really, just water (which is true. I generally don’t use soap on my face in the morning. I don’t care.) She said “Oh! Well, what about those red spots on your face?” I was mortified. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I have no idea why I reacted so violently but I very nearly burst into tears and I left. I felt ugly and stupid, judged, stupid that I was flattered and thought she thought I was pretty. I reacted hugely, which is kind of how I react all the time anyways, but even in the moment I knew I was over reacting. I just couldn’t stop. I was so embarrassed I practically ran down the mall to the next store that could have had a white shirt.

I want to pause here and say that what happened next was probably a good thing. It’s probably a blessing that I did not immediately find seventeen things that looked great on me and that I could believe would make me feel better. I tell myself that it was probably a good thing because it felt like anything but at the time.

I walked (quickly) down the mall to a store that looked like it might have what I need. I went in and found the right racks and thought ok, here we go. I have lost quite a bit of weight so these will probably fit. I’ll grab a large and a medium and go try them on. And I did. And I was horrified. I looked like nothing so much as a nicely dressed sausage. The large was so tight I felt like I could see my organs through it, and the medium never left the hanger. What the hell? I am so much smaller now than I was before, why doesn’t this store fit me? Fuck it. Next store. At the next store, the same thing. Now I felt unpretty, fat, ugly, deluded and stupid, and all I wanted was a damn shirt. I continued down the mall. And this is where I started to fight back in my own self-centered kind of way. I went in to two more stores, asked if they had the right kind of shirts and immediately told the person I asked what I needed it for and that I needed a new one because I just lost 30 pounds. These sales people don’t know me from a hole in the ground but they know I lost 30 pounds, damn it! And they were quite gracious, complimented me, told me where they thought I could find what I need and sent me on my way without making me feel stupid at all that I had just forced them to hear the story of my weight loss to boost my own confidence. In the end I found a shirt, it looks nice, it was on sale, and I still wash my face exactly the same way I always have. Fuck you kiosk girl and tiny shirt stores!

This is an odd and sort of funny (in hindsight) story. I feel a little silly that it all hit me so hard and that I reacted so much and that it bothered me so immensely. What concerns me is that I don’t think this is a weird situation. I think people are made to feel the way I did on a daily basis and we all admit it’s a problem and we try to make sure people don’t take it to heart, but it’s still there and it’s still happening. I was 33 years old when this happened. I reacted and felt and did and was the way I am and moved on, but I can’t imagine what it would have been like to go through all that when I was 13 for instance. I am just like a lot of people. I recognize that the media sets up unfair standards for people and I shake my head and I say that’s a shame and it should stop, but it doesn’t and I don’t do anything. And I don’t know what to do either. And not just that, but when did we come to a place where people feel like they can not only talk to me like that kiosk girl did, but that that sales tactic probably does work sometimes, otherwise why would she do it? When did we start to accept that people can be so mean and judgmental and we not only take it, we buy shit from them? What the hell?

I did not set out to write this as anything more than telling the story, but now it sounds like I’m calling for action. I don’t think I am. I don’t know what action there is. I am not sure and actually I’m kind of unsettled now.

With that, I think I’m done for today. Have a great one and we’ll talk next week. By the way, I am really pushing myself to be sure I blog every week right now because like I said last week, this time a year ago I fell off completely and didn’t come back for months, and I don’t want to do that again. I’ll see you next week and thanks again for listening to my ramblings!

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