Thursday, 17 January 2008
It's not clothes you're looking for
Tonight at Monsoon...
I'm tidying the dresses. 'I need a dress', she says, by way of introduction. She wears blue feathers in her hair.
'Oh', I say. 'What's the occasion?'
'I have to attend my opening night', she tells me proudly.
'That sounds exciting', I say. 'What's it for?'
'The opening night of my musical. It is being put on my the same man who did The Lord of the Rings musical'
'You must be so excited!', I say. 'Which theatre is it at?'
'Well. I don't know if it's being put on yet. I put it in the post yesterday, so he's probably read it by now, so I'm waiting. But I think if I buy the dress it will send positive vibes into the world and help him to enjoy it, so I will get a response sooner. But I'm sure it will get put on. It's the best one.'
'The best what?'
'Musical. So I want something with a lot of sequins. I can't believe I've gained so much weight recently. You don't think I'm fat, do you? You don't think I'm a silly old fool for getting the dress before I know when the opening night is? Because I might lose weight. But it's good to be prepared.'
'... It is good to be prepared. But perhaps you should wait. Because musicals take a long time to produce. It will take over a year, between now and opening night, if it is accepted. In that time, fashion will change'.
'Well I can always pull the sequins off if necessary'
'... Yes.' I do not know what to say.
'I'd like ones with big sparkly bits.'
'Oh. Well. Shall I help you find some?'
'It has to be in the sale. And in size fourteen. And I need some stars for my hair. I'll wear feathers at the back and stars at the front'.
'Okay'. I do not know what the ethical thing to do in this situation might be. So I fetch stars for her hair from the children's department. She puts them in, decides she does not like our dresses ('very nice but not really that red carpet factor') and leaves. Wearing hair stars she has not payed for. I do not tell the security guard.
What continues to surprise me with this job is how people do not want clothes from me but security. They want me to tell them they are not old, not fat, not crazy. They want me to tell them that they look good. But more then that. They want me to tell it them in a way that makes them believe it, makes them see it in themselves.
I rarely serve happy people: they wouldn't be shopping aimlessly if they were satisfied. I want to tell them that new stuff will not make them happy. But they know that already. They come to me because they seek an alternative view.