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Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011

JAPAN LITE

When you go shopping and nothing 'looks right'


Most people feel older on their birthday. Not me. I feel older on New Year's Day. Perhaps it's because I wake up a bit under the weather from the previous night's festivities. I look at myself in the bathroom mirror and think, Who's that?!

If you are young and want to know what you're going to look like when you get older, consider how you look with a really bad hangover. You know, the times when it looks like a truck ran over you? Well, that's what you're going to look like in another 30 years, even without a hangover. Even with makeup.

The rest of your body won't fare much better either. You'll go shopping and come home empty-handed because nothing "looks right" anymore. This goes on for a decade, maybe two, until you come to terms with your new old self.

This is how I ended up on a tropical island in Southeast Asia for the Christmas/New Year's holiday with nothing to wear. Oh sure, I had jeans and sweaters which I could comfortably hide beneath in Japan, but in the tropics, it was different. There were no sweater bikinis in the shops.

As I walked around one of the beach shops admiring all the beautiful clothes I wouldn't "look right" in, I observed people taking their purchases to the cash register. One woman put 10 items on the counter: itsy bitsy, teeny weeny bikinis, G-strings and such. The cashier took all 10 items and placed them inside a small bag, the kind usually reserved for earrings, and the customer left the shop while stuffing the bag into her back pocket. Another woman approached the cashier and handed over the equivalent of ¥10,000 for a bikini the size of a serviette.

Not to be deterred, I chose various outfits from the racks and slung them over my arm, hangars clanking against each other. The sales girl, dubiously but politely, showed me to the dressing room.

But there was something seriously wrong with the dressing room. The mirror was like one of those in fun houses that makes you look short and fat. So I changed dressing rooms. But alas, same mirror!

No matter. I quickly slipped out of my clothes, ready to try on the new ones. But there were so many hangars they were falling off the hook. OK, so they weren't actually falling off the hook; they were jumping off and running back to the racks. "Come back here!" I yelled as the size 5 bikini scrambled over the dressing room door and sprinted back to safety. The sales girl kept dragging them back, in ever increasing sizes.

My god, where has my body been all these years? My husband says I have to come to terms with the fact that I don't have the body of a 25-year-old anymore. But have you seen what 25-year-olds look like these days? Sometimes I wonder.

Perhaps if I tried on a sundress it would help me look taller and slimmer. Out on the sales floor again, I spied a gray one with soft black tiger stripes and fringe along the bottom. Hmmm, wouldn't hurt to try it.

In the dressing room, I easily dropped it over my head. It was a little snug getting it over the shoulders, then . . . uh-oh. It stopped at my hips. Like a ring you cannot get off your finger, the dress was now stuck between my breasts and my hips. Soap anyone?

I tried to lift the dress back over my shoulders while jumping up and down (don't ask me why I did this, but it SEEMED to help). "Wilma, get me off this crazy thing!" I yelled. I gently tugged on the dress inching it up slowly, but it just got tighter and tighter like a boa constrictor eating me whole.

Then I heard an awful sound, one of the worst sounds I have ever heard inside a dressing room: that of seams parting from the garment. At this, I stopped struggling and decided I could only call for help. What's the emergency 9-1-1 number in this country anyway?

I certainly didn't want to have to buy this garment that I couldn't even wear, although it would make a stylish tourniquet for that chance tropical snake bite.

When I get out of this thing, I'm going to call my lawyer! I cursed. "That dress tried to strangle me," I'll tell him. I'll sue that dress, and the company that made it too. And maybe even the sweatshop workers. Definitely the designer.

But in the meantime, I had to get out of this predator dress.

I wasn't sure what to do next, but I had heard about the power of prayer. I prayed to God. I pleaded to God. I gave God a deep Japanese bow. And slowly, my body relaxed and the dress slipped off.

I hung the garment, which now had a completely different shape and looked more like a boa constrictor with a full stomach, back up.

I tried on 10 more items and each looked just as hideous. I tussled my hair, struck sexy poses, pursed my lips and, thoroughly disgusted, yelled "OH, GOD HELP ME!" But even God wouldn't go that far.

I left the shop with all 10 items anyway, admitting that nothing was ever going to "look right" again.



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