Last week, I was at Day One of the Cacharel press sale. At lunch hour.
When I stated this fact to my sister, she said “Why?” and I calmly explained that stores give formidable discounts to people with power, hoping they will wear the clothes to the right places and be seen by the right people. Welcome to the world of marketing, little one.
And she rolled her 18-year-old eyes and said “I know what a press sale is, but why’d they invite YOU?”
They didn’t. They invited my friend. But the more important question is: since when do 18-year-olds from Florida know about press sales?
If the words "day one, press sale, at lunch hour" don’t inspire you to pop a tranquilizer, then you’ve obviously never been to a press sale.
When I arrived, I went to say hello to my friend in the dressing rooms where it was a maelstrom of flying boobs and bras, and a women with no pants on was doing business on her cell phone, stopping only to give birth to kittens when the saleslady returned without her size.
Stepping back into the store, I nearly tripped on a camera crew and I thought, why? For what purpose is this being documented? And what are they doing filming on this side of the curtain? They are so missing all the good kitten-birthing action.
As farce would have it, I soon had my own adorable little mix-up that began with a blouse that I wanted to buy. There was but one left in my size and the saleslady informed me that someone else was currently trying it on.
When the woman-with-the-blouse-of-my-desires emerged from her dressing room, she indicated that she would, indeed, be purchasing said blouse.
The saleslady began walking the item to the register, and it was only when she got TO the register, on the clear other side of the store that she clarified for my benefit, “Madame, I’ve made an error! YOU’RE waiting for the last [my size], and what we've got here is the last [twiggy french girl size, smaller even, than toddler’s clothing].”
Now, I’ve worked in retail off and on for, oh, my entire high school and collegiate career. I’ve seen ALL the Victoria’s Secret training videos, and if I remember correctly, they more or less indicate you will be gagged with g-strings and executed to a slow death of cheap perfume inhalation if you go around calling out sizes for THE ENTIRE STORE AND THEIR CAMERA CREW TO HEAR. There is an etiquette for size discussion and indoor voices are fine and outdoor voices are not, am I RIGHT HERE, LADIES AND METROSEXUAL MEN?
Which is why the saleslady was very, very lucky when all I said was a playful, “Careful there, I’m American. You might give me a complex.”
Without missing a beat, she shot back, “Oh, it’s true. The Americans, you don’t know how to be comfortable with your bodies.” (Bien dans votre peau, literally--“good in your skin.”)
And like a little wooden ball, my sense of humor went skittering to the farthest left-hand rung on the evolution chart, the rung where you scratch under your arms and your back is entirely swathed in monkey hair--the rung where you have no sense of humor, but you know how to TAKE OFFENSE and GRUNT and ATTACK. Which probably explains why the first thing that came to mind was “Yes, if only we Americans could take your lead, maybe we, too, could be 'good' in our Marlboro-smoking, size zero, anorexic, sack-of-bones skin.”
When I was tripping home later, a Cacharel bag jauntily poised in the crook of my arm, I wondered, what would have happened if I’d actually said those words? Would an onlooker have shouted, “Oh, SNAP!” Would there have been a catfight?
And the camera crew? Oh right, NOW their presence makes sense.