Sunday, March 23, 2014

Well, That’s It. I’m Officially Old and Frumpy.

Recently a friend met me in my neighborhood for a foray into Retro Hipster Thrift Shop (not its real name) where she attempted, with middling success, to sell some of her old clothes. Recalling that I’d stored away some perfectly serviceable pants and dresses after I lost weight, a dollar-shaped light bulb went off in my head. The next day I bagged up a bunch of pants, dresses, and shirts and headed off to Retro Hipster Thrift Shop with supreme confidence, dreaming of how I would spend the fistfuls of cash I was certain they would eagerly fork over for my duds.

The nice young woman at the counter, who sported a Betty Page hairstyle and a sweater set embroidered with cats, methodically took every single item out of the bag, inspected it with an inscrutable expression, and efficiently re-folded it and set it on the counter. It felt surprisingly intimate and vulnerable to stand there while she silently judged my clothes. After about ten embarrassing minutes she finally said, “I really appreciate you bringing these in, but I don’t see anything here we can take for the store. We’re looking for very current styles.” I felt stung, but I left with my head and my bag of frumpy duds held high. When I got home, Mr. Typist asked how much I made off of my clothes, and when I told him I had been summarily rejected, he said with earnest concern, “Are you okay?” “Not really,” I sniffled, shoving the bag into the hall closet. I suppose being subtly condescended to by the hip and young is a rite of passage we all go through at a certain age, but I admit it did rankle me a tad. I mean, I’ve seen the clothes in their store, and frankly, they aren’t that great, so I don’t know what she was on about with my offerings being out of style. Hmph. Whatever. That Betty Page haircut isn’t going to look cute on her forever. One day she’ll be old and out of touch like me, and she’ll know what it’s like to be to be rejected by whatever nineties-retro-wearing hipster judges her clothes.

Now I have the added burden of mild paranoia that all this time, people have been clucking their tongues and shaking their heads behind my back at my dowdy clothing, and that maybe that’s what’s been holding me back from a meteoric rise to the top. I just didn’t know, and nobody told me! What if I’ve been a candidate for What Not to Wear for years, but no one’s rescued me with a credit card and a whirlwind shopping trip to New York City? I guess in the end, I should just take all of this philosophically. I’ve never been one to dress for anything other than comfort and ease of movement, and just get away with the bare minimum needed to look presentable. It’s saved me a lot of time and frustration, and I don’t regret a thing. Do you hear that, Betty? I don’t regret a thing!

On another, less shallow and self-involved note, if you’re in the Seattle area, please come out to see “Public about Privacy: Poems and Stories about Privacy” at the Good Shepard Center on Wednesday, March 26th at 7:00 p.m. I’ll be reading work from “The Acme Employee Handbook” and some other poems, along with stellar poets David D. Horowitz, Dennis Caswell, Victoria Ford, Rebecca Meredith, and Michael Spence. It’s a timely and important topic, and we’d love to have you join us!

--Kristen McHenry


John Socrates said...

Very entertaining post and one I personally relate to, in that I held an estate sale for almost a year before moving from Oregon. I had your experience way too many times. I soon was ready to post a sign that said, "No one younger than 40 need stop or shop here!"

Anonymous said...

I've been shopping at and selling to consignment stores for over a decade, from little hippie towns like Port Townsend to Midwestern suburbs to swanky California beach resort towns, so I'll just say it's a lot like poetry - you've got to find the right shop for you. If you like the clothes in the store, they'll probably like your clothes. Don't give up after one rejection! And remember - each place has a certain style and specialty. Good luck and try again! (PS: If it's worn out, though, just donate it. They tend to really notice wear and tear.)