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The worst nightmare ever

Monday, September 28, 2015

You know how people have recurring night frights about planes crashing or being caught naked in public places? 

Not me. My bad dream is being trapped between rows and rows of Jimmy Choos or Diane von Furstenberg gowns in a huge sale and not being able to buy anything. 

Imagine the pain of it all, like a metal hook being dragged through the intestines. 

As I was on vacation last month, my phobia came to life—in Macy’s One-Day Sale, which is like the Holy Grail of shopping for non-heiresses. There I was, in one of the biggest malls in Florida, with my store map, credit cards, and a nice bundle of foreign currency in my faithful leopard-print wallet. 

I had done my research too—checked online for what was cute in kick-ass suits (the less uptight successor to power suits of the Nineties) and casual cotton-blend jackets, although the aider and abettor (otherwise known as the Master of the Coin) whom I had brought along to hold my handbag while I went into the changing rooms felt he had to point out I already had one in every colour. 

Having shed some pounds recently and punished my mid-section into retreat, I was ready to reap the benefits of my labour (and possibly the labour of the Master of the Coin because I had his best plastic friend as back-up in the aforesaid wallet) and I was properly equipped to shop till I dropped. 

Well, the drop happened. Five hours later, I was a soggy mess on a bench in the mall courtyard. The shopping, however, had been deleted from what I now believe was an extra-terrestrial experience. 

“I can’t find anything,” I bawled. As I wandered and wandered through the 65 per cent markdown racks, my eyes burned with salty tears and my lower lip quivered like a hummingbird on crack. 

The Master of the Coin knitted his brows. His eyes questioned, “Nothing? In the whole store?’’ 

“This never happens to me,’’ I whimpered. 

A Starbucks visit was prescribed, so I could recalibrate, but by then my brain was in distress, having been zapped with no-shopping gamma rays by aliens. When the cashier threw me into overload by asking me what kind of milk I wanted in my brew, I just about burst into sobs and told her I was having a really hard day. Clearly, she was an angel sent to combat the evil aliens because she smiled (that chick knew an anxiety attack when she saw one) and wrote “steamed soymilk’’ on my order. 

The harmful gamma rays were still operating as I tried to console myself in trendy boutiques on all three floors of the mall. Nothing looked like me. Nothing spoke to me. And the Fall collections were already out, which meant thick sweaters and moody colours more suitable for grumpily shivering by a radiator than for sashaying through a tropical wonderland. 

Not even Diane Von Furstenberg in Bloomingdale’s could break the spell. I had found exactly what I had sketched in my head—a dramatic black and white, long-sleeved, jersey maxi dress. And it was in my new size. 

But with all due respect to the Wrap Queen, you can’t expect a woman under alien attack to knot and twist and pull a belt through a hole here and tie stuff there in order to get herself into fabulousness. I left the destroyed tie-me-up fantasy in a sad bundle in the dressing room and fled before I got expelled from the fashion police sorority. 

A look of panic flashed across the face of the Holder of the Handbag/Master of the Coin as I re-emerged empty handed and weepy. Sensibly, he said nothing but steered me in the direction of a shoe store, and allowed the moths to fly out of the sacred purse. Thirty minutes later, I was reasonably stable and the owner of a pair of cute zebra Aerosoles, and some snakeskin lace-ups. The emergency action averted an impending tantrum of cataclysmic proportions. 

The minute I landed back home, I ran to a mall for a check-up, to see if my shopping muscles had been permanently damaged. I was relieved to discover that the paralysis I had experienced in Florida was temporary. Aliens, apparently, do not travel well. 

• Tell Elsa your shopping nightmares at [email protected]


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