I had no intentions of walking into that ratchet store. Even in my high school years it was quite the struggle to slip their brand’s dungarees up and over my fat hips. I must admit, I was surprisingly optimistic that afternoon; it’s probably what motivated me to strut inside that store. With rose gold Beats covering my ears, I was able to walk past the obnoxious chatter of knucklehead kids running around.
I used to be a mall rat, hanging out in the three wings with my other ratty friends, with nothing better to do after school–growing up, it was the only free thing to do on the island. Well now as an adult, I learned to keep my music as a distraction.
I had just picked up some bourbon chicken and mac-n-cheese from my favorite Cajun spot in the food court when I came across the store. I thought back to the insane amount of bomber jackets I had bought from there when I was in high school. I must have had every color imaginable to match my outfits perfectly. I stood by the escalator and grew curious–what does it look like now? With my weight changing over the years, I wondered if their jeans had an attitude adjustment and maybe we could finally be friends.
The store was overcrowded just as I had remembered: circular clothes racks squeezed up against each other, jumbo sized displays barely visible between the clutter, and customers attempting to slide through the mess. A young guy tried to sell me on a pair of mustard ripped jeans but my focus was on the overly patterned black and white ones immediately to the right of them. (I missed out on this trend because of my obscene thighs.)
I smiled politely when he offered me the size 4’s, laughed a little harder when he remained serious, and finally began schlepping through the stack for a size 13 or 15. I settled on trying the 11’s. He asked to hold my Cajun food while I went to the fitting room and I giggled–Like I was really going to set up dinner on the wooden bench behind barnyard doors.
I handed over the plastic bag and scurried to my fitting room.
My reflection smiled back as I ripped my sweatpants off. Eventually, I found the courage to slide one leg into the 11’s and grew far too excited when the pants kept sliding up without interruption. Okay, I’ll say it, I was excessively thrilled, to say the least. There I was, one leg in, my slight gut exposed, laughing at the stunned look across my face, and I couldn’t help but think about how weird it would have been to have the lingering scent of bourbon chicken in the tiny room during my euphoric moment.
It wasn’t until I slipped my other leg inside the dark denim that my cheerful demeanor had evaporated. For once, it wasn’t my problematic thick thighs holding me back from popular fashion, it was my big butt.
I stood there, unaccomplished and frazzled, remembering back to my mother’s life lesson: the cowboy move. It’s when you grab at the back belt loops and pull with every ounce of will, while wiggling uncontrollably with a certain rhythm like you’re preparing to rope-up some cattle. It’s pretty effective when the pants are your size. On this particular day, in the tiny fitting room, the odds were not in my favor. I heard a sharp POP and just like that the magic escaped.
To say I panicked would be an understatement. I thought quickly, perhaps too quickly, and peeled them off before throwing my sweats on. I folded them in a way that my wardrobe malfunction wasn’t noticeable and collected what was left of my dignity before opening the door. I found the stack of surviving pants and stuffed my tortured jeans between them. Hoping to make an easy escape, I maneuvered toward the front.
I turned back, meeting the face of the sales guy. Panic bounced throughout my body and I had to explain how they didn’t fit. I asked for my Cajun food, he asked me to try on a different pair, we went back and forth a few times, I took my lunch and fled for the escalator. There was no way my bulky bottom was going to relive that moment again.
Lesson: The odds were still completely against me.