“Yes, Barbara, you can sign me up for your newsletter…”

I recently tried to take on the task of finding a vacation destination for my family.  This is a job my husband usually fulfills but because the trip was to include my whole side of the family, I felt I should carry the responsibility.  I logged on and tried finding vacation homes and hotels that could accomodate all of us for a week.  There was one hotel in particular that looked very nice online.  I was having a hard time finding out room rates so I had to call to get more information.  The receptionist was extremely nice.  And very helpful.  And with rates at $845 a night per couple, she sure as heck should have been!  I was floored at this price.  But I still felt the need to play it cool.

And that, my friends, is the point.  Why do we feel it necessary to pretend our mouths are not left open at the complete shock of hearing things like this?  Whether it’s the price of a hotel, jewelry we are looking into buying or even a new washer/dryer set.  When someone tells us a price we cannot understand anyone in their right mind paying, why do we feel the need to “play it off”?   I don’t think that we need to curse out a receptionist and tell her where she can stick her $845 a night fee.  Or take that pretty bracelet and shove it down the jeweler’s throat.  But we could easily say something like: “Whoa!  Wow.  I wasn’t expecting that.  I am looking for something a tad bit cheaper.”  And perhaps ask if they have a place they could recommend.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?  But no, we don’t do that.  I think part of all of this is that we know the person on the other end of the phone has no idea who we are.  So we can pretend to be whomever we want.  “$845 you say? Oh that’s a great price compared to what we paid last year in Aspen!” is how we might decide to respond.  Or we’ll keep asking more and more questions to pretend we are actually thinking of still paying such a price.  “Do you have a swimming pool?”  “Is your hotel kid-friendly?” “Do you serve a continental breakfast?” “Can I request a late check-out?” 

The fact that these persons have no idea as to who we are should allow us to just be ourselves.  But it doesn’t.  We should have no fear to let them know that we have lost interest in their item because of the price.  But we do.  We should not be embarrassed to ask if they give discounts to AAA members.  But we are.  So at the end of the conversation, when they ask if we want to go on and book the dates in question we have to connive our way out of the situation.  “Oh no.  I can’t book this without my husband’s consent.  Let me talk it over with him first.”  “Well, this is the first jewelry store I’ve been to.  I’d like to shop around a little more first.”

I have fallen victim to this so many times I’m unable to tell you.  So when the receptionist asked me if she could get my email to send out upcoming events and specials of the hotel, I didn’t have it in me to tell her that no discount would ever be enough to get me to stay there.  “Sure.”  I said.  “Please send me more information.”  And I may have added an: “I’d love that.” on the end.

Why are we wooed by the wiles of the voices coming from our telephones?  How is it that we get spellbound by the three-minute conversation we have with an operator and suddenly decide that they are our friend–and we don’t want to disappoint them?

I say all this but I cannot guarantee that I will man up the next time I’m asked if I want to be on the calling list to receive updates on the migration patterns of geese in our area.  I think my mailbox will continue to be barraged with newsletters and bulletins from every company’s secretary that I talk with.  But maybe I’ll start sharing them and start to forward them to all of you…;-) jk

Dress to Impress

A good friend of mine (an older gentleman) once told me: “Women don’t dress to impress men, they dress to impress other women.”  My first thought was to debate this comment.  But after a brief moment, I realized what he was saying was true.  I attest some of this to the fact that men (husbands, boyfriends, brothers, close male friends) are so pathetic and lame when it comes to complimenting us women on our new shoes or the fire-red dye highlighting our hair.  I won’t spend time on that right here and now.  Perhaps I’ll talk more on that in a separate blog.  But they either don’t notice or care to comment when we look appealing and perhaps exceptionally dapper one evening.  However, take those same shoes and that same day you colored your hair, and you will possibly get compliments from women as they pass by.  I too am one to blatanly walk up to some woman I have never seen before and earnestly tell her how much I love her purse.  Or ask where she got those sexy shoes she’s wearing.  I’m not shy to tell a woman the jeans she’s wearing fit her really nice.  (stopping short of telling her that her @$$ looks great in them!) I think it may be because we as women know what it’s like to find items that make us feel good or to help us feel hot and sexy.  So we are quicker to let a fellow comrade know that we agree and approve of their decision for that shoe or that fire engine hair color.

But I feel I am going a little wayward of what it is I really want to discuss here.  I actually want to talk  more on what my friend mentioned a few years ago to me.  The statement quoted above.  I couldn’t argue with him because I immediately knew who it was that I dressed for.  And no, it was not (is not) my husband.

I grew up with a friend that I will call Bonnie.  I’ll spare you the history of our relationship and just let you know that we used to shop for clothes together.  There were no jealousy issues of any kind.  We were completely honest with each other of how we felt the other looked in an outfit.  And we would go to great lengths to help the other find that perfect pair of jeans and even the shirt that would accent the breastline just right.  We would annoy sales clerks asking if we could use the same dressing room so that we wouldn’t have to waste time while trying on outfits.  Even if not together, we would look out for each other–knowing what the other was in need of in their wardrobe.  I could get a call at any time with Bonnie telling me she found a shirt that would match that green skirt that’s been in my closet for two months waiting for a mate.  We didn’t even care if we both liked the same outfit.  We would both just get it.  Surprisingly wear it to the same function?  Sure!  Who cared!  We were like that.  If it looked good on both of us, then we couldn’t outshine each other.  It was that simple.

Explaining all of that lets you know that Bonnie was who I dressed for at that time.  For years even. Her and I were a great team.  I still think of how we were truly there for each other in the stressful world of retail.

But I got married one year with her getting married the very next.  I moved, she moved and we both just got busy with our new lives.  We still talk and are still good friends.  But as it goes, we grew apart.  I began to hang more with friends my husband introduced me to.  (Not on purpose.  It just sort of happened this way.)  Which now leads me to a friend I’ll call Alicia.

Alicia was different from Bonnie in many ways.  Her style was a lot more hip than what I was used to.  Her expense account was a little bigger than mine also.  When we would go shopping, we went off into separate sections of a store.  I’d be alone in a dressing room and would have to text her to see if she’d come and tell me her idea of what I was trying on.  She’d get in line at the checkout without me even seeing a glimpse of what she purchased.  If I asked where she got a certain shoe or skirt, she’d feign memory loss.  I guess in fear of me buying the same thing.  But still, even though this was completely different from what I was used to, I found myself slowly giving way to the style she portrayed.  I liked it.  It looked good.  And then, there I was, getting dressed for her!  Wondering if she would notice the way I accessorized my jewelry to match my shoes and purse.  I would think really hard about what I was going to wear before we went together anywhere.  I thought more of what she felt about my clothes than I felt about them myself. Although our shopping experience didn’t copy what I was used to, she would give me her advice and ideas on things when we were together.  She knew how to make me look like a trendy million bucks.  (It was at this time that my friend made the comment to me about women dressing for women.  And it was Alicia that came to my mind.)

Sadly, Alicia and her husband are no longer together.  It’s classic in these cases that the friends split like the couple who decided not to stay together.  So my husband and I are friends of Him.  Not Her.  (Again, not on purpose.  It just happened this way.)

So what do I wear now?  Sweatpants and old EMS sweatshirts from my husbands fireman friend.  When I’m at a store trying on jeans or a cute coat (Is it cute?  I’m really not sure without someone there with me to testify.) I feel as though I have no idea if what I’ve picked out is alright.  But alright for who?  It may be okay to me.  But, who gets dressed for themselves?  That’s so boring!!  It’s not the same to walk away from a mirror saying : “I look nice tonight”, knowing your husband won’t even notice you bought new boots and skinny jeans.  How much better it is when you have that girlfriend to assure you that yes, those boots are perfect  and your are “rocking” those jeans!  Right now I go shopping with my three-year old.  She has no influence yet on what I buy.  But will she be the next woman I dress to impress?  She just might be! ha

I don’t say any of this to say I am having an identity crisis.  Just that I realize that his statement was more true than I would have realized without being told.  You ladies, think about it–who do you dress for?  Be honest and let me know.  Are you expecting compliments from the man in your life?  Or do you think it’s more reasonable that you’ll get more from me if we pass each other at the club tonight?