Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let's Spend Time, Not Money

Port Macquarie, New South Wales and my travelling companions, lily-livered with hangovers, are bedridden and moany. It's raining. My hostel bunk and tired book hold limited appeal so I decide to indulge in some retail therapy. It's been raining for days now and my optimism re the Australian winter is beginning to wane - I thought it would be just like an Irish summer. And it is. I leave the hostel determined to buy a sensible jacket and instead spend the afternoon shopping for sweaters with a little old lady who asked me to choose one for her son, then took a shine to me. She's about 147 years old, so I imagine her son as a pot-bellied and balding bachelor and choose the duds accordingly. Lovely! she exclaims. If only he could meet a nice girl like you... she says wistfully, as we finger some more argyle.

Fast forward two years and a wet Tuesday evening finds me in A-Wear on Grafton St. shopping in vain for Christmas Clothes. Everything seems to be covered in sequins. I am trailing around with a Peter O' Brien dress over my arm, imagining how like Gráinne Seoige I will look in it (ignoring the fact that I have neither her handsome face nor her hugglesome boobies). As I make my way to the changing rooms in order to effect this miraculous transformation, a wheedling American accent tugs at my sleeve.

"Hey miss!" Dum dee dum dee dum mumbles my face as I determinedly ignore her trills for attention. Shoo. I am not in the mood. "Miss!" she shouts, tapping me on the arm and smiling up at me through her orange lipstick and massive teeth in that sweetly formidable way that all ladies over seventy seem to master. Most people are suckers for puppies and small children. Me, I cannot help but indulge the elderly. Which is why I am always the one who ends up sitting uncomfortably on the oul lad's knee at parties, or trying on clothes for ancient American ladies who are shopping for their granddaughters and who surmise that we might be of a size.

I am too polite to refuse, so I reach out, horrified, and take the proffered items.

Mumble pants*. Sparkly mumble pants and, to strike Balance squarely in the knackers, a jumper the far side of dowdy. I pull the leggings on and the jumper over my head, hoping that it is just about long enough to cover all unsightly bulges. The changing room curtain is heavy with my humiliation but I step out, frumpy dumpy, to face ridicule. Instead I am faced with a little old lady, so enchanted by my appearance that she claps her hands in glee. I do a little flounce, a mortified taa daa! before I am allowed to struggle out of them again.

Relieved, I hand them back to her and slip the Gráinne gúna over my head. Seoige svelte and sexy in 3... 2... 1... Oh fuck. Dog's dinner does not cover it. I throw a strop, take a hump and cart my lovely lady lumps home.

*Leggings so tight that you can see the lips move... Blame Felix.


The Bad Ambassador said...


Not your failure to find a party dress which makes you look like Jessica Rabbit's sexier sister of course.

Rather the post in general.

the dublinista said...

How sweet are you?

Ellie said...

Oh lord, you are a million times nicer than me. That sounds like my ultimate nightmare. I never try my own clothes on, let alone some randomers!

barefoot gypsy girl said...

I'm not sure how I stumbled on your blog. I don't read blogs much these days. I LOVE your writing. I will be back again & again.

Radge said...

Oh, that brings me back.

Sarah Gostrangely said...

Finding Xmas clothes is harder than the holy grail.

Especially flattering nonsequinned garments.

Perseverance though, and Pints!

conortje said...

I had the very same thing happen when I worked in Pennys about a hundred years ago. I also had to help pick out clothes for a dead body!!

kiki said...

hmm, i thought you were just racist against americans

Red Leeroy said...

a giant slice of good karma right there.

Conan Drumm said...

You've got the little old lady gift. That makes you special, by the way. And clothes, they maketh not the woman.

Kitty Cat said...

...I'm still recovering from the idea of mumble pants...I'm in awe and traumatised in equal amounts

Rosie said...

sweet as sticky toffee pudding, Dublinista. or salty porridge. one of those.

thank you, Ambassador and Gypsy Girl.

not really, Ellie. my obliging people is borne out of an apologist sense of embarrassment more than anything else.

i worry about you, Radge. really.

i think the pints may be the problem, Sarah.

i too spent a summer in Penneys, Conor (known as "the worst summer of my life") and ended up more often than not as a personal shopper for confused kildare farmers who were looking for blue workingman's pantses (jeans). i never dressed the dead though.

that's all the fashion in Dublin, Keeks.

you'd think, Leeroy, but so far all karma has done today is kick me roundly up the hole.

i think it's my secret longing to be a little old lady, Conan. preferably a french one, who spends all day gossiping in a petit café with her friends, and a dog in her handbag.

it's an evocative phrase alright, Kitty.

backpedalbrakes said...

I have that camel toe song stuck in my head now.

Also, A-wear clothes are teh suck.

Tessa said...

"Mumble pants" ... priceless! You should trademark it ... way better than camel toes.

Rosie said...

true, Catherine, but they are also teh cheap, and i am not scared of the sales assistants like i am in BT2.

for those with a morbid sense of curiosity - the camel toe song. thanks Catherine.

stolen from Felix, Tessa. i'd have to pay her royalties.

Dave said...

i commend you for even considering trying on clothes for a stranger, clothes shopping is hard enough when your doing it for yourself!

Trying on clothes... hmmm ... i take the male approach,where trying on clothes is a last option and intuition is everything!

You see I knooooooow it's the right size, and "sure it'll be grand" and sure "i have no time to be undressing here i have "stuff" to do...."

...then we get home...

....some time passes...

.... day in line for the returns desk with half the male population of Dublin there too,there is a general concession that clothes sizes are misleading and the modern male is "completely misrepresented".... "m'gaaaaawd"!!!

Conan Drumm said...

I've now started thinking what a good ventriloquist could do in the company of a pair of 'mumble pants'.

Please make it stop.

Rosie said...

makes you long for the days when your ma would make you drop trews in the middle of Dunnes to try something on, doesn't it Dave? "sure who's looking at you anyway!"

sorry, Conan. but thanks for sharing.

as if ventriloquists weren't creepy enough.

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