I was at my new favorite discount store, Nordstrom’s Rack–or as I call it, the Crack, since I find the place so addictive–holding up a short, cranberry velvet jacket in front of my chest, looking into a mirror to try to visualize this jacket on me.
At the same time a nicely dressed older woman–maybe in her late 60′s but quite good-looking, with not too much but just enough make up on to make her look appropriate for her age–was coming up next to me. I didn’t see her until I’d put the jacket down and shrugged a little, because I wasn’t sure it was “me”. I looked up and saw her smiling at me. I took that as an entree to say something.
“I don’t know,” I gestured down to the jacket. ”I think it makes me look like a jester in the king’s court.” She smiled and said, “it’s a beautiful jacket.” I looked at it again–maybe it was a beautiful jacket. Maybe I was in a fashion box–the same old, same old look. What if she was right?
I stood there for a beat–then finally put the piece down. I really don’t think cranberry velvet has any right hanging off my front. Plus, it was kind of expensive–even on sale– and if I was going to go out on a fashion limb, I wanted it to hit my wallet a little less hard. But that lady was right, it was a gorgeous piece. She was still standing there, so I held up the jacket and said to her, “It would look nice on you maybe? We have the same coloring.”
She shook her head and smiled. ”I have BOOBS,” she looked down at her front, “It wouldn’t fit.”
For a split second I thought, ‘Oh my word does she know me? Does she know I have no breasts?’ But then I saw her smile and her self-deprecating gesture toward her largely endowed front side, and I realized her comment was not about me. It was about her.
I smiled and started to put the jacket back on the rack, and as I did, she pushed her cart by me and added, “Boobs ruin everything.”
Now I don’t look like I have had a double-mastectomy-no-reconstruction: I just look like I’m small in the chest. So she had no idea who she was talking to–me, the Queen of “boobs ruin everything.” (Though of course I’m kidding because they don’t typically ruin everything. Hell, I loved my boobs, until they tried to kill me.)
But I wasn’t going to get into a breast cancer dialogue right there in the clearance jacket aisle–there was shopping to do, fitting rooms to conquer and I wasn’t about to ruin it all with cancer chat. So I just took the irony for what it was–FUNNY–
and as she passed by me on her way to the shoe section, I replied with a good-natured laugh,
“I hear you, sister.”