Thursday, April 15, 2010


Probably the truest thing that has ever been said about me was delivered by Ahmet, our youngish driver in Istanbul, as we walked out of a department store after a shopping expedition.

“Mrs. Title, may I say something?”

Ahmet always asked permission to speak. He was probably in his early 30s, had lived in England for a few years in his 20s where he learned his English, and was unfailingly polite.

After hearing my “Certainly,” he said in all seriousness: “Mrs. Title, you do not shop like other women.”

I had to refrain from bursting out laughing, because he hit the nail on the head. I truly do not shop like other women. I hate shopping. Ahmet was an only child and when he knew I needed to furnish our living quarters from top to bottom, he asked his mother where he should take me for things like sheets, towels, pillowcases, blankets and so forth. She suggested Pabetland, a local department store, and told him to stick close to me since I didn’t know a word of Turkish. Ahmet also had been married during the time he was in England, and he probably more than once accompanied his wife on a shopping venture. I suspect he was measuring me against his experience with those two women shoppers.

At Pabetland I walked into the towel department, quickly grabbed four bath towels, four hand towels and four washcloths, four sets of sheets and pillowcases, two sets of blankets for each of the three beds in our flat, about six dish towels, a couple of small tablecloths and – and within 20 minutes we were on our way out to the car. What I bought was functional and medium priced. I did not care about color. Especially about color, because our bathroom had a grey marble floor, red and black tile, a pink shower, and a beige marble counter with two sinks in it. Why worry about color coordinated towels? Ahmet was truly dumbfounded that this was the way I shopped.

I bring this up today because I am going to have to go buy some summer clothes. I HATE shopping for clothes. I have to be a little more finicky buying clothes than I do buying linens. I have limitations: 1) size for an old lady’s shape, (apple) 2) color for an old lady’s image (not garish), and 3) style for an old lady’s age, (nothing clingy). What I have found lately is that if I get pants to fit my waist, the legs end up being as wide as Dumbo’s ears. If I find something I like, the colors are so dramatic as to make me look like a retired harlot. The blouses are designed to show cleavage and waistlines, neither of which I have any more, and belly, which I have too much of.

This business of skin-tight tee-shirts, which is about all there is available at the kinds of department stores that my budget allows, has forced me into the men’s department, where I can buy decent straight-sided tees. They are plenty comfy around the house and since I’m not exactly a trend-setter in the image-department anyway, they work just fine!

But I do occasionally meet friends for lunch, and ten years after I retired I am still wearing the blouses that I used for work those many years ago. Probably my friends are much less conscious of my aging wardrobe than I am, but if they were keeping track, they probably are taking bets as to which of my three old blouses I’ll be wearing this time!

It’s time to go shopping. I HATE it. I am 75 but don’t feel 75. I don’t want to look like I am wearing old crepe dresses and Enna Jettick’s shoes. I don’t want to look silly like an old lady in teenage clothes, trying to fool everyone into thinking she’s only 39. My choice of department stores is Macys, Macys, and Macys. No more Broadway, no more May Co., no more Gottschalks. It’s Macys or nothing.

So I’ll head out one of these days, when I finally get really desperate, and see if I can update my wardrobe a bit. Shopping is my least favorite thing to do. But I’ve got to bite the bullet. I’m aiming at having this onerous chore done by May 15. I’ll be going out of town to a very important wedding then, and I’d hate for the relatives to say to themselves, “Is she still wearing that old thing?” If worse comes to worse on my shopping expedition, though, I just might be!

No comments: