Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 is a periodic series chronicling my experiences and observations as a New Yorker. Today’s post No. 43 recaps my first time attending a sample sale.
Her flesh-colored bra and neon thong’s seeming indifference toward concealing her rounded, sun-baked T&A triggered the part of my lizard brain where lust and Protestant guilt intersect. And yet I wasn’t mad at the brunette stranger standing before me or myself, truth be told. We were not Adam and Eve in the garden. We were just two lost souls in a co-ed dressing room on a Friday afternoon searching for bargains at a sample sale.
The room we shared offered no stalls, just open space and three benches like those you would see in a locker room. Clusters of clothes and hangars sprawled across the benches and at my feet. A half hour earlier I arrived at this sample sale, with its mix of local and international designers, intent on leaving with a pair of discounted jeans, only to find none within five sizes of mine. Now, clutching four dress shirts in my right hand, I stood shoulder to shoulder with a dozen other people in various forms of undress.
I slipped the discounted shirts on one after another, alternating my gaze between my feet and the wall. Protestant guilt, the kind seared into my brain during hundreds of Sunday mornings in my youth, not to mention the desire not to be a creep, inspired me to focus on inanimate objects after first viewing the woman described above. My best intentions were far from fail proof. Once buttoned down, I looked at myself in the mirror and noticed a tall, athletic woman in black panties, shimmying into a pair of skinny jeans. The white shirt I modeled stretched an inch, maybe two, south of my waist. I glanced to my right at the gangly dressing room attendant/judge with black, shoulder-length hair for his verdict.
“That shirt is too short,” he replied in a manner that suggested I was a hopeless case.
I returned to the floor scavenging for larger sizes. The fifth floor installation featured two or three racks per designer, consisting of jeans, dress pants, and sweats, dress and T shirts, and leather and denim jackets located along white walls. A cash register sat atop a folding table at the room’s far end. Sample sizes, as I now know, don’t do larger sizes. If you eat foods like fried chicken and pizza and Ben and Jerry’s fried chicken-flavored ice cream (if only this were real!) you will have a hard time finding clothes at sample sales. I canvassed the entire floor before finding a shirt that matched my “lavish” bayou taste and country strong size.
I returned to the dressing room with denim shirt in hand, this time adequately prepared for the meat market spectacle. Or so I thought.
“Thank god, I got my pussy waxed,” one woman relayed to another as I focused on my new shirt’s buttons.