Dear Women

Dear Women,

It's not often that I make a visit to the women's changing rooms. I'm pretty sure the last time I was there, the girl I was with didn't do very much changing. Neither did I, come to think of it; although we did do some fitting.

But yesterday my girlfriend and I went shopping. We went shopping in the most archetypical and clich├ęd sense of the word- that is we went shopping for clothes, in clothing boutiques with big windows, located on streets with other clothiers, in districts demarcated for the purpose of shopping. We went shopping like the girls in Sex and the City used to go shopping around the turn of the millennium.

I'm the one in the red smock, ignoring the conversation while lusting over a Cheesecake Factory in the distance

While my girlfriend ran amok, pillaging and plundering the high-ceilinged valleys of mammon, I began the long, lonely, often futile search for the cubbyhole where, if I was lucky, a few ties and a single pair of trousers would be hanging. But often there was no men's section at all, and when this was the case I tried to find an inconspicuous corner somewhere and hide inside a rack of long dresses, just like I have been training for since I was a young boy. Because if my girlfriend noticed that I didn't have anything better to do, I would often be press-ganged into the queen's service. And by the queen's service, I mean walking behind my girlfriend, holding her potential purchases by their hangers for her like a traveling coat rack. This assignment also included nodding in appreciation at dresses my girlfriend liked, frowning with disapproval at dresses my girlfriend didn't like, and mumbling my own preferences when asked so that she would have an opinion to countermand.

The inevitable final destination on this GPS route through purgatory was the changing room, where I finally plopped down on a plush, backless bench facing a long row of changing stalls. I had already dumped my forty-pound load of chiffon off at my girlfriend's stall, and she only emerges for approval when she likes something, so I knew I had some time to kill.

The doors on the changing stalls didn't go the whole way down to the floor, so I was confronted with at least ten pairs of women's feet. The gyrations I had expected. I've seen a woman trying to get into a pair of jeans before, and it requires some doing. What I hadn't expected was the swooping, the sashaying, the twirling, the leaping, the pirouetting, the subtle hopping, the rocking back and forth, the war dance, pawing the ground like a bull about to charge, a short scene that was clearly plagiarized from Riverdance - The Irish Dancing Phenomenon, the three-point offensive lineman stance, and the tap dance/modern ballet fusion performance piece, which I personally found to be slipshod and not a little uninspired; granted I only saw it from the calf down, but the footwork was just sloppy.

At one point I saw a foot disappear from view, and the woman stayed on one foot for the remaining forty minutes I was there. In another showcase both feet disappeared. I can only imagine the woman had wedged herself into a corner, or was bracing between the narrow walls of her cubicle, suspended three or four feet above the ground. Perhaps to see how the jeans would look were she to wear them while escaping from prison through abandoned duct-work.

Women- what are you doing in these stalls?

A poster in H&M that I came across that day seems to shed some light on what's going on, but the vast majority of the jamboree remains inexplicable.

That's a lot of prance, even for a dance. I'm sure it looks better when she does it in the tiny H&M fitting rooms;  and also when she finishes it off right with a Mexican Hat Dance and some Gallagher watermelon smashing.

At any rate, can you at least put in more men's sections so I can be a party to this changing room pandemonium? I've got a cliff-rappelling technique I read about from the '44 Normandy Invasion that I've been dying to try out in a 3x3 cubicle.

Sebastian Braff


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