Salesclerk: Greetings, maiden. How may I help ye?
Me: Well, I’ve been in the mall for three hours. I intended to get this errand completed in forty-five minutes. I’ve looked in sixteen different stores. I’ve purchased a soft pretzel, CBD hand lotion, and a melon-flavored bubble tea. I think I may collapse.
Salesclerk: Be seated, fair maid, on this stained tuffet in this poorly designed semi-foyer to the ladies’ room and tell your tale! What brings ye here, so far into the depths of Macy’s?
Me: A quest I once thought simple but now know is so outrageous that the very gods shake their heads in wonder that I’ve undertaken it.
Salesclerk: What seek ye? White shoes that don’t make your largish feet look like small clouds upon which you walk? A shirtdress that stays closed over your bosom? Just regular jeans? Tell me, O heroine, so I may aid you! I don’t clock out for another twenty minutes.
Me: I seek a black shirt.
Salesclerk: That is easily—
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Me: —a plain black shirt.
Salesclerk: Define “plain.”
Me: It should not have any slogans on it.
Salesclerk: O.K. How about the Manhattan skyline?
Me: Nay. It should not have the Manhattan skyline nor any other urban vista upon it. Also, no cats, nothing about wine, no extra buttons or tiny pockets, no references to “Game of Thrones” . . .
Salesclerk: Cool, cool. We def—
Me: I’m not done. It should not ruffle or frill or pucker in any decorative way. It should not feature the conjoining of materials, say, leather and polyester, nor should it have sleeves that end anywhere but upon mine wrists.
Salesclerk: Let me just go see—
Me: The sleeves, they shall not puff. The waist, it shall not draw unto itself with a drawstring nor end in a knot that covereth not mine tummy. Nowhere shall it be frayed or distressed. No velvety patches shall have been on it sewn. It shall be black like the night, not actually navy when it is exposed to the sun’s rays. And, most of all, it shall be soft upon my skin.
Salesclerk: O.K. Wow. Anything else?
Me: Preferably under fifty dollars.
Salesclerk: I’ll go see what I can find, but, quick question, just in case—
Me: [Flings the bubble tea upon the ground.] It! Shall! Be! BLACK!
Salesclerk: I hear you—it’s just that we have some fun summer colors in, and—
Salesclerk: Got it. What size?
Me: I wear an XXL.
Salesclerk: Oh. Ye be plus-sized.
Me: That’s such an uncomfortable term, implying that somehow I’ve—
Salesclerk: Yeah, we’ve actually shifted to an all-appliqué line for our plus-size clothing.
Me: All what?
Salesclerk: Yep! Every piece in the line has a daisy appliquéd to it. So cute! So feminine!
Me: Even . . . even the black shirts?
Salesclerk: Oh, there aren’t any black shirts. So, plus-sized is upstairs, past the bedding and the employee break room. Just go through the storage area and the clothes are piled on the floor back there.
I rise, weary, and shuffle off to Part Eighteen.