The other day I was wearing an unusual sundress. Unusual because it didn’t come from Goodwill, wasn’t made of sweat pants material and actually had some style. It was a 90-degree day, and me and my little dress were feeling cool and kind of cute, which means I wasn’t wearing Goodwill sweatpants and un-matching top.
Shopping for this and that at TJ Maxx, my upscale, (relatively), ‘go-to’ for anything brand-new that will last a whole season, (I know, I know, there’s another school of thought about all this, but where’s the fun of buy one good piece I’ll have forever when TJ and that other place can deliver 50 for the same price?) I was flattered when the girl behind the checkout counter said, quite enthusiastically, “I like your dress!”
Graciously thanking her for the acknowledgement of my atypical, ‘for once she doesn’t look like comfort is her number one priority’ attire, we then continued to chat in that way one does with an employee who’s been instructed to have three positive interactions with every customer. This girl was particularly good at her job, so I left with five grandchildren items, five new items for me that will hold my interest for a month and a new pan that will replace the one with scratches so deep if there was mercury or whatever it is you’re supposed to worry about with those pans it would be gone anyway.
I had one more errand. Searching for the MAC store to buy my favorite lipstick, one of which costs more than three of the five items I purchased at TJ’s, (I know, I’m a very complicated person), I was having difficulty locating the store that had moved from one tourist-centric location to another. Frustrated, I went into a store that sold, as far as I can tell, another kind of makeup and had a similar name. I said to the fellow standing at the door, “I don’t mean to insult you as you look to be a competitor, but do you know where the MAC store is? Not the computer one, but the makeup one?” He replied,
“That’s OK, we don’t sell makeup so we’re not a competitor.” He proceeded to give me directions. Then he said, “I like your dress!”
Well. Call Vogue this very minute and get a cover shoot scheduled, right? Two people in one day floored by my dress? And of course, they wouldn’t be so blown away if I hadn’t worn it with some panache, so give credit where credit is due.
As I proceeded to exit the store to purchase my expensive but worth it lipstick, the nattily dressed fellow said, “Here – take a free moisturizer sample.”
I did, but then he said, “Where did you get the dress? Are you from around here?”
As I edged away, I explained I lived in the area part-time. Then he said, “Hey, want to come in and get a super quick, amazing eye treatment? You’ll love it and it will only take a minute.” I mumbled something, suddenly aware that he didn’t really love my dress or my panache and wandered away.
So this is the deal now: one is complimented about anything when shopping or browsing in stores as part of a seductive, flirty and tricky way to make us customers feel grand about ourselves, hence wanting to buy more stuff at the store that then makes us feel mucho grando about ourselves.
I recalled at TJ Maxx that the gal at the station next to me had been complimented by her clerk for the T-shirt she was wearing. I don’t mean to be catty, but THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON TO COMPLIMENT THAT T-SHIRT.
Somehow, I don’t doubt that my clerk saw how damn cute my dress was. I understand the smooth talker at the store that supposedly can transform nearly seventy year-old wrinkles into maybe sixty-six year-old wrinkles did not love my dress.
The whole thing makes me kind of sad. My friend Lisa would say, “What matters more, what anyone says about your appearance, or how you feel about yourself?” Well, most of us aren’t as evolved as Lisa. And if you have a really cute sundress, it’s nice to be complimented. I can’t say to all those clerks, “Do you really like the dress, or are you required to say you do?” because they’re just doing their jobs. So the next time I get a compliment about what I’m wearing, (and that has never happened except for the sundress day so in a way, it blows the whole theory), I’ll smile politely like Queen Elizabeth, who gets kowtowed to all the time and doesn’t take it to mean anything but what it is.
I suppose I could take Lisa’s orientation to heart and stand in front of the mirror every morning and say, “I like your (dress, T-shirt, sweatpants)” five times, then say, looking myself directly in the eyes, “And I really like then say, looking myself directly in the eyes, “And I really like YOU,” twirl around, and become more evolved.
I’d rather get my strokes from strangers with questionable motives because I’m that sort of person, but I’ll give it a try.
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