No, YOU Got Stuck In That Dress.

I had a very important task to accomplish this morning: procuring something to wear as Co-Producer and emcee of “Listen To Your Mother (Chicago)”. Fun, right?

Not really, when you’re a person who

1. doesn’t regularly shop for clothing
2. hates to pay full price for clothing for herself, therefore spending the most time in the sale/clearance section
3. has definite ideas on what colors and styles have been both comfortable AND successful in the body flattery department, therefore limiting choices from the get-go

You may remember my search for a red dress in Feburary 2011? Horrifying.

I had a great attitude when I left, though, AND a strategy.

I arrived at JCPenney and made a beeline for the dress department. Here’s what I was looking for:

1. Something in red, blue, turquoise, or black
2. Something with a v-neck
3. Something that goes just below my knees in length
4. Something that is either a solid color or a “gentle” print, since I will be on stage with my co-producer Tracey and although we don’t have to match, I don’t want a print that “screams” either. Also, this show will be video-recorded and will be online until the end of time: I want to have a classic look. Or something like that.

Naturally I found nothing that matched all of those qualifications.

I did, however, find a beautiful dress that I fell in love with immediately, and it matched three out of four attributes on that list:

So pretty, right?

I grabbed one and took it to the fitting room. I pulled the dress I wore from home over my head, patting myself on the back for thinking of wearing it, and I put the new dress on after undoing the two buttons on the back at the collar. It was a little, let’s say, difficult to pull down over my chest, but I gave it a good yank and got it into position. I spent a couple of seconds adjusting the bottom of the dress–the air must have been very dry in the store because the static electricity was crazy-bad–and then when I was satisfied it was hanging properly I looked at myself, turning around so I could see from all angles.

“Hmm. Nah…”

I adored the bottom of the dress but the top part was just not flattering at all (which is why I was looking for a v-neck). Too bad. I would have to keep looking.

I undid the buttons again and grabbed the lower part of the dress to lift it back over my head.

It did not budge.

IT DID NOT BUDGE.

I released the dress and grabbed a different section, trying again. Nothing.

I pushed the top part of the dress back over my chest and figured the rest of the dress would happily tag along. It didn’t.

I contorted myself in ways I never have before in a department store fitting room, trying to get that dress off, without ripping it.

I was starting to sweat.

I looked in the mirror and whispered to myself, “Help!” (Yes, I did.) Turns out, the reflection of me was stressing out just as much as the real me.

For a moment, I thought I was going to have to ask the fitting room attendant to come and help me pull the dress off.

I was pep-talking the heck out of myself. “You can do it! Just relax. You got the dress on…it HAS to come off. No worries! STOP SWEATING.”

I started wondering what life would be like if I ended up living in that fitting room.

And then I saw it, peeking out from under my arm. It was a zipper pull.

I hadn’t noticed it when I put the dress on. It was a shame, really: had I noticed it I wouldn’t have had to tug on it so hard to get it over my chest.

My fingers gripped the zipper pull and as the side of the dress opened up, I breathed a sigh of relief. I would NOT have to rip the dress to take it off. I would NOT have to ask the fitting room attendant for help. I would NOT have to be the girl who lived in a JCPenney fitting room.

I pulled the dress over my head with ease and gently put it on the hanger. After putting my own dress back on, I said goodbye to the pretty dress and the fitting room, and headed for the part of the store where I could find a pretty blouse to wear with my black pants…something a little less constricting.

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