Hello again, fitting room. Did I really miss you? | Mark’s Remarks


Writing this column for so long has taught me a few lessons. I shouldn’t  write about my personal appearance unless I’m poking fun at myself. I should probably refrain from telling readers I’ve started a new diet plan or that I’ve slimmed down a bit. 

People stop me on the street or go out of their way to chastise me and say things like “Well, how is the diet going?” or “I wanted to come and see your new slender self.” 

Perhaps they are being nice and sincere, but I usually take it as mockery, passive aggressiveness or cattiness.

That’s a flaw of mine.

So, the mockers and the smart alecks will be happy about this column.  

There are many things I’ve missed during the pandemic and many things I’ve embraced. I hate clothes shopping, but when I actually need something, I want a throng of people waiting on me hand and foot.  

Heck, I don’t think I’d mind if I had a salesperson there to straighten my collar, help me match colors, and remind me what size belt I need to get. I want clothes shopping to be low maintenance and easy.

I have one store in particular that I like to go to.  I can usually find fairly decent clothing for a decent price. If I find something I like, I fight the urge to buy one in every color.  

It’s not really about what I like, though. It’s more about what fits. Being a tall person, my knuckles drag the ground like an orangutan. My long legs sometimes make pants shopping a challenge – especially since my waist size has grown gradually disproportionate to my inseam.

During the pandemic,  I found it necessary to buy a few things. Since shopping seemed normal, I figured I’d speed into the store masked up,  do my 5-10 minute browsing, grab what I wanted, and head to the fitting room. My system is to strip down, try on everything as quickly as possible, make quick decisions, put things I want to buy in a pile and heap the rejects on that counter that says the salespeople will hang it back up for you.  

How nice of them.

But yep, fitting rooms were closed off during the pandemic, so clothes shopping was a bit of a gamble.  You had to feel pretty confident about what you were getting. More than once, I had Michelle stand with me in a secluded corner of the store so I could quickly try on a shirt. I didn’t want to overwhelm anyone.

I thought about doing the same thing with pants, but Michelle wouldn’t let me.

So you might guess I was happy to see fitting rooms opening back up again. To me, shopping is stressful enough without having to gamble on the sizes and look of what you are buying. Being able to try something on bathes me in relief.

Or does it? 

The first time back in the fitting room, I was pleased to see my favorite store had used its down time to do some renovating. The fitting rooms were sparkling clean with new and improved lighting, new doors, and what appeared to be updated fixtures. I think there were new mirrors, too.

So, as usual, I carried my hastily assembled heap of “maybes” into the fitting room and undressed, planning my quick changes as I hung my current clothes on the handy new pewter hook.

I was quite startled to see the saggy, pasty-white person in the mirror. I stood and stared for a bit. Surely it was the new lighting.  Maybe the new mirror was faulty. I turned and looked at every angle, just to see if I could cast a shadow or something to make things less apparent.  

Then I realized maybe this was the real me.

My trying on of clothes was much faster than usual, and I was relieved to make my choices and clothe myself again. I looked much better in the new light and new mirror when I was fully dressed.

So, I’m not sure I missed fitting rooms after all.

The friends I have who like it when I’m self-deprecating will relish this column. 

You all have those friends:  the ones who want you to do well, just not better than them? They are the ones who appreciate it when you point out your own flaws. It makes them feel better.

I hope every one of them goes to the fitting room soon and gets the shock of their lives.

Revenge. Another flaw of mine.

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