Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 219

The shop smells like cat.  It makes sense since a cat is the first thing I see, curled up like a vintage stole on a tattered cushion.  The proprietor of the shop is all I could have hoped for and I am immediately on my best behavior.  He is twitchy and intense and a social understudy.  He acknowledges our presence by almost imperceptibly lifting his eyes above his thick black frames.  His spirit licks the walls covered with Sinatra, Elvis, Judy album covers.  The collection of Derby hats belies a collection since childhood and the men's section is what adorns our attention as soon as we enter.

T grabs a Fedora and the felt spoons his ears.  I shake my head and leave him to his own fate.  I enter into another room and gasp.  I admit it.  Dresses arrayed by era, feathers, sequins, mothballs, it's all here.  The fabric is heavy and though I don't see the owner his angry eyes seem to be reflected like a disco ball in the center of the space.  I want to pick garments up to try them on, but almost reverently I just need to pay homage to my surroundings.  Orange is on full display and I am attracted to it as it leads me near with peachy pheromones. 

I stop at the woman's hats.  Oh, collapsed lungs.  The netting, the flowers, the bead work.  I cannot fail to miss the well placed sign with it's not so tongue in cheek mantra:  DON'T PLAY IN THE DAMN HATS.    Duly noted.  I am obsessed with excavating good feeling among people who frighten me.  I see the man stalking the racks subtly following my trail.  I say, "Excuse me, but I am looking for a dress from the forties and I am not exactly sure what I'm looking for."  He looks annoyed and tells me he will help me later and we both know that now he will stop following me, though I would have rather he answered my question. 

There is a $5 rack.  An orange brocade suit nudges my will power, but really when will I wear orange brocade?  It is heavy on the hanger, heavy on my frame I'm sure.  A navy polka dot ensemble has me at hello and I find that I am now ready to bear fabric in my arms.  Hat sign be damned, I try some on.  Do I have a large head?  Were heads smaller then, were bodies?  I feel like a modern Attila the Hun as silk flowers perch ridiculously on my always considered normal sized noggin.  I need gloves, don't I?  I need a light blue taffeta prom dress, right?  I am on a mission now.  I need a lime green pea coat.  I need a cameo, scarves with Asian flare,  a cream blouse with more ruffles than Bobo the clown.

And now I need to try them on.  The man points toward three rickety looking dressing rooms.  There is not only no lock on mine, there is no latch.  Is this his idea of a security camera?  Ooohhh...I don't want to get on his bad side and I talk myself into the fact that T is looking at suspenders nearby and then I can't stop touching the lilac velvet chair inside the tiny room emanating a royal vintage vibe and I undress.  The fabric is well made and sometimes musty.   There are more buttons than I feel like messing with.  The ruffles now seem like a really bad idea and I am dismayed as I look into the mirror.  I am not wearing vintage well.  The sleeves come up past my wrists or the coats wrap me in their coils.  I feel stiff and uncomfortable and slightly itchy.  Something changes inside me in that unprotected room.  I had envisioned that I was part of that world, that the world was part of me.   I needed a fifties house dress and apron to clean in, a pill box hat, and white gloves to run errands.  I can't pull it off.

I am a modern girl with an old school twist.  I do not subscribe to the casualness of the world.  I wish we all wore dresses everyday.  How sick I get of jeans.  I think we need to have a fancy dress for some other place than church.  And if we were wearing white gloves would we have as much road rage?  I don't buy anything from the store and when we leave the cat is gone off his perch, but I haunted the shop I had wondered about for months and I may even go back.  It is a character.  The whole experience awakened a creativity and thirst even.  I found a pair of red square toed Mary Jane's at the DI soon after so you can't take the past from the girl.  I realize that it just isn't the fashion.  It's the quest for beauty, for femininity, for the opportunity to make a mark, a work of art on my body when I'm not working on the written page.  Color attracts me and I need it near me.  I like the classics, in literature, in education, in my wardrobe.  A simpler time, a more innocent time, and a man and his cat will follow you around the store should you too decide to go rummage through his wares.  Bring your own lock...


  1. Ah-ha! So you went!
    I am laughing that you took T. You obviously felt you needed protection.
    LOve how you wrote this out as well.
    Love to you!

  2. You have been wondering about this store for a long time--I'm glad you got there finally!