Monday, August 4, 2008
Come On, Filene
After hearing about this miraculous event called "The Filene's Basement Sale" (and more popularly and disturbingly known as "The Running of the Brides"), I resolved to participate. So yes, my mother and I found ourselves at 5 a.m. in Towson, Maryland sitting on a line with at least 300 women seated in front of us. As we walked to the back of the line, I looked at the women who had been waiting for hours, sitting in camping chairs, holding mugs of coffee, and huddling together in gaggles of seven and eight, each member of the group wearing fuschia-colored or lime-green T-shirts that said things like "The Bride" or "Tara's Bridesmaid!!". I realized that I was far out of my league. As my mom and I did the Filene's Basement walk of shame past the women who had been sitting there all night, we got the evil eye: I could feel them judging whether we would be faster at grabbing a dress and stronger at holding on to it than their group. It reminded me a lot of the prison walk when the new inmates are brought into a penitentary and the current prisoners judge whether they will be a threat to their current fiefdom within the prison walls. (Hey, I have been unduly influenced by the "Shawshank Redemption", so cut me some slack on my analogies.) A meager group of two we were: me at 31 years old along with my 55 year old mom. I can safely say we were judged no match. Good call by the 250 lovely ladies sitting in front of us.
So we sat on line and actually chatted with a very sweet girl behind us who brought along 2 other women and we decided to join forces to form our own coalition (neon-colored t-shirts bearing too much information aside). Rumors floated up and down the line of women like high school. "They're not letting people in at 8 am because the dresses aren't here yet." "If you bring a little kid, they'll let you in early." "They won't allow you to bring your camping chair folded up because they're afraid you'll hit someone with it." This last one actually turned out to be true. And soon enough security guards were coming through and collecting chairs from ladies sitting on them.
Then we get an informational sheet. It included little nuggets of information on how to navigate the sale. Savvy suggestions like "don't be alarmed if there are no dresses when you arrive; we recommend you leave, go have a cup of coffee, and return a few hours later, when dresses people don't want are returned to the racks." Riiiight. So I got up at 4 a.m. to sit on line for 3 hours in an effort to leave the store, spend $4 on some crappy ass coffee and return to contemplate purchasing for my wedding all of the dresses discarded by women who thought they were ugly. Thanks, Filene. You are very wise.
At ten minutes to eight there began some movement among the women. People began to pack up their belongings. There was a palpable electricity in the air. Engagement ring prongs were sharpened and veils knotted in noose formation, readying for the war. Like some sort of estrogen-fueled wave at a stadium, we began to stand up one after another. After another few minutes we began to move. At first we began to shuffle forward, talking with each other about our strategy and how crazy this was. But then we noticed that women were infringing on our space, pushing around the corners and coming from behind to try to cut in front of us! (Yes, I know how juvenile that sounds - but that is exactly what it was. I was cut in line.) My mother and the 3-strong-girl-squad we previously merged with locked arms to form a wall to keep out line cutting intruders. Then we stopped. What was going on? Why the hold up? Then we realized. No one had been allowed in the store yet at all. The initial movement was just to close the gaps and push everyone as far forward as possible so the true running could be like shoulder-to-shoulder connubial cattle. And then it began. We started to shuffle and then jog. And then women were everywhere, cutting in line, pushing and shoving, and most of all - trying to push into the doors of a bargain basement discount store. I broke away from my group and ran into the store. And I couldn't believe my fucking eyes: there wasn't a damn dress left on the racks. The doors had opened approximately two minutes ago.
I spied a dress laying on the floor and sprinted over to pick it up. As soon as I had a hand on, so did two other women who started pulling at it. So I did what I had to do.
I dropped the damn thing and walked away. No dress, wedding day or otherwise, is worth a girlfight and my dignity (which already had a lot of recovery to do from my dash into the store).
Ultimately, our coalition was able to get a bunch of dresses to try on. And you know what? They were fug-tastic. You got it: U-G-L-Y. $249 dollars of hideousness. All the talk of designer dresses? If they were there (which I'm sure they were, I don't doubt you, Filene), I didn't see 'em. And so for two hours I stripped down to my skivvies in the middle of a major department store to try on dresses. (Did I not mention this part? - when you have 250 people vying for four dressing rooms, the recommended course of action is to drop trou in another department (preferably by a mirror) so you can try on dresses more quickly and discard or barter for other dresses as needed. Let me tell you how shocked the man who was there to buy a pair of sweat socks for his company baseball game was.)
After two hours elapsed I simply called it a day. Dunzo. Filene's Basement and the hordes of angry (and more dedicated) brides had beat E&E and Mom to a pulp. Mmmm. All this bridal brawling made me want a mimosa.