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Is it only shopping if you buy stuff?

March 14, 2010

I spent all last fall and this winter wearing what used to be winter-white cords. These pants are very worn — so worn that the little stripes that some Old Navy worker lovingly etched into them have weathered away to absolute flatness.

Instead of donating them to the Museum of Natural History, where they could live out their days in a glass case right next to the other smooth artifacts, like arrowheads, I wear them at least three times a week. I like them. Why? They fit, dammit. They fit. Ish.

You see, they did not fit for a long time. Not in any way that would be held up in a court of law. Maybe 3 or 4 months after I had the baby, I came out of the bedroom wearing them and told my husband, whooee! Look, these pants fit.

He looked up and pointed out, as gingerly as possible, so as not to completely diffuse my glee, that the pants were not zipped. Whoops, I did not know that he could see that part. But they were UP, and at that point, up counted. Before, they weren’t even up. Now, they zip without problem. So most days, I pair these pants with some black boots. More specifically, black snowboots that someone gave me about 9 years ago.

I need new clothes.

I am not the first mother-shaped person to reflect on how hard buying clothing has become. There is the time issue: I have no extra time. There is the money issue: I have no extra money. And then, there is the real issue.

Of course, some folks zoom back into normal shape right away. One friend delivered her daughter 5 weeks before I had our son. I saw her 11 days after she gave birth. My friend could not take her eyes off of her tiny, darling daughter, but I could not take my eyes off my friend and the normal-people jeans she was wearing. Even then, in my crazily blown out giant freakstate, I knew that her story of pants would not be my story of pants.

For various reasons, I became mean and crazy last week, and could tell that I needed a break. I got a babysitter, and took the train into the city to see a movie. As the subway rattled over the bridge I had a sort of daydream (daymare) that the train would be stopped on the bridge, and a stompy Austro-Hungarian type of guard would stroll the cars until he found me, what with my flat white cords and the snowboots and the hair that, due to the circumstances of the last cut and style, left me wearing a hat at all times. But hey, that was about 8 months ago, and now I forget to wear hats. For the protection of the people of the city of New York, the guards would stop the train from entering into the Fashion Capital of America until they had ousted me and all of my aesthetic and confidence problems. They do not need these things in Manhattan.

The guard never arrived, and I get off the train in Soho. I used to work in Soho, and while waiting for the movie I am going to see, I decide to wander around and check out some stores. I decide to start with something easy: curtains for my son’s room. I go into an Urban Outfitters just above Houston. But as soon as I enter, I become paranoid. I can sense that some UO worker is going to try to stop me and try to have a conversation. And  that through this conversation, it will be revealed that the worker has me pegged as some sort of tourist, but not from one of the great capitals of Europe, or say, Buenos Aires. They think I’ve come to stay with a cousin and buy ill-fitting commemorative tee-shirts featuring skyscrapers that no longer exist. They think that I’ve made a side trip to Urban Outfitters to shop for one of my teenage children. Damn you, flat white pants! Damn you, overweight mathematician who gave me a bad haircut two seasons ago!

I become so defensive that I am silently screaming to the poor terrible hipster employees, while being sure to avoid all eye contact: My child is a baby, you asshole. He doesn’t need any of your retro refitted strappy confusing bullshit skinny jeans hellholity, and neither do I. Just get me out of here, quick. Unless, of course, you also sell Xanax.

Banana Republic, I think. That’s where you go when you just sort of want a uniform. I could use a uniform. But once in BR, I can’t even recognize the store. Everything has changed in the entire world of shopping, is how long it has been since I have done it.

I decide to try on some jeans. I see that even BR jeans have changed from regular sizes to those waist number sizes.

You know, I used to, no matter what else was going on, have a pretty definitive waist. It was my favorite part of my body. It was one of the things that made me like Doris Day, though being like Doris Day wasn’t something I had specifically aspired to do. But it had happened, and I was used to it, and my waist is what I looked to for comfort when I wasn’t really all that excited about my limbs. Or my face. Or whatever.

These days, my midsection has more of a handful-ish quality than I should probably admit publicly. It’s definitely more attached to my body than it was, but even when pants fit, I have a little special bit of cleavage where my bellybutton sort of folds in. Sexy! Why must they fill dressing rooms with mirrors?

Another fact about my midsection is that baby HAPS loves it. Specifically, he loves to press his spitty little mouth against it and blow hard til his lips flutter. At least someone is enchanted by this feature of my body. My best friends concur that their kids also love their special extra parts that they got from being pregnant. Not to turn everything around into something mushy: I’m still feeling overwhelmed that I am like a very special tigerized roadmap of jiggle who needs Pilates and is not likely to get it anytime soon, and does not even feel totally confident that it would address the issue at hand. But the laugh my waist gets when my one year old makes raspberries on it?



7 Comments leave one →
  1. Meg permalink
    March 15, 2010 11:22 am

    This is hilarious! And you are writing up a storm these days. My maternity jeans that I have worn for 5 months straight are developing a tiny white patch/hole that I hope will not increase in the final few weeks, even as other things (ahem) surely will.

  2. Michelle permalink
    March 15, 2010 1:58 pm

    Babies love soft. Even much older babies. Giacomo says, “Trisha is the best to hug because she’s softest.”

  3. March 15, 2010 3:35 pm

    India like to squish her hand into my tummy and say, “Mama squooshy.” Yes. Yes, I am. Thanks for pointing that out.

    I only buy things online these days. I don’t want any hipsters helping me find clothes. I don’t like the lighting in stores, and ever since it occurred to me that malls are just big places with stores in little rooms, I don’t like ’em.

  4. Iraina Balmer permalink
    March 17, 2010 10:23 pm

    Ha- I agree with Alexis. I used to go to stores and tell the salespeople that I had 4 kids, right before giving them my size….then I took hubby along one day and he asked why I felt the need to tell them my life story. Sigh. I don’t feel the urge, usually, to converse with my computer.

  5. marie permalink
    March 18, 2010 7:51 pm

    this is absolutely hilarious.

  6. secret admirer permalink
    March 20, 2010 9:17 pm

    I really like those cords. You getting rid of them?

  7. Rachel permalink
    March 22, 2010 8:04 pm

    Meredith, I’m new to your blog. Loving it – so poignant and funny.

    Your description of the retro refitted strappy confusing bullshit skinny jeans hellholity describes exactly how i feel when i enter pretty much any store these days. Since when did skin tight jeans (waist to ankle) with your love handles hanging out become attractive? Am I officially middle aged for saying that?

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