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“You can go up a band size, but you have to go down a cup size,” she says.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that if you go up a band size, you have to go down a cup size.”
“That makes no sense.”
“I don’t make the rules,” the woman replies. She measures me with her eyes and I look upward at the signs of the various departments. The entire floor seems to be dedicated to this maze. A maze that requires professional help. Professional help from…. Betty, her nametag says. The woman completes her calculation and selects one in red.
Red’s the colour that makes boys think you’re up for it. I think back to my school days. Or was that black?
“Let’s get you fitted and I’ll show you how it should sit,” she says, leading me to a small room behind a curtain.
I follow this uniformed woman, still wondering.
Red or black?
She thinks I’m a slut.
We enter the small room. She draws the curtain and shuffles to face me; our bodies so close that I can feel the heat radiating from her.
She nods to my blouse and says, “That’ll have to come off.”
I unbutton it and slide it down my right arm.
I punch the mirror.
It wobbles like turkey neck and I wince at the noise.
“Happens all the time,” she says.
I slide my blouse down my left arm.
I hit the wall.
It shudders. I grimace. She says nothing.
Without my blouse, she examines me; takes me in. I am categorised, memorised and calculatised.
She spins me around and pulls out the small, itchy tag I hate. “This is all wrong. You’re an F.”
I examine myself in the mirror. I attempt to categorise, memorise and calculatise but cannot find an F. I can’t be an F.
“I can’t be an F,” I say.
All these years in the wrong size. She thinks I’m an idiot.
“You’re definitely an F.”
A slut and an idiot. Well I’m not going to tell her she has something in her teeth.
“An F if I’ve ever seen one!” She chirps.
She’s a morning person.
Betty, the morning person who goes for 5am runs, even in winter, and tells people exercise is better than coffee.
With a practised flick of her fingers, I am suddenly unsupported and exposed.
Betty’s arms shoot over my head, holding this crimson beacon of sexual promiscuity. “Arms through,” she says, as if dressing a toddler.
I feel like a toddler.
I feel her pull and clip me into place.
“Sorry,” she says. “Cold hands!”
I try to laugh but it sounds fake.
She doesn’t notice.
She is grappling, taking me in her hands, wrestling me into position.
I remain still.
I look over her head to the white wall.
She continues to sculpt me; an artist in a frenzy of creative energy.
“How does that feel?” She asks, as she finishes. She’s out of breath. Her face looks up at me, smiling with enthusiastic expectation.
She knows it’s good.
I can see in her eyes that she knows. Her face is smothered in job satisfaction. It seeps from her pores.
It makes me nauseous.
“Perfect fit!” She says, not waiting for an answer. She turns me around to look in the mirror. I have goose bumps from her cold hands.
“There shouldn’t be any overhang in the sides or the back and you should pull them in from the sides, not up from the bottom.”
“Not a problem!” She beams. “My lunch break is almost up, but if you need any more help, I work across the road in the toy store.”