Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Seam Stress

One of the disadvantages of sharing a body shape with Barney Rubble is, as you would expect, buying clothes. Last weekend I saw a shirt that caught my fancy--a loose, linen number that I imagined would make me look stylishly casual and artistic, like Pablo Picasso in an outdoor cafe. But the only size that would accommodate my ample rotundity draped down to my knees. That's how I ended up delivering myself and my new purchase to a neighborhood establishment that bills itself as:

Classe* Dressmaking Shoppe
Nothing technically wrong with that, I suppose. But you have to admit it's incongruous: a humble dry cleaning and alterations enterprise in a Canadian suburb, run by a family of Asians, with a name that evokes elements of French haute couture design enlivened with a dash of Ye Olde English quaintness.

Inside, I was led past the front counter into the bowels of the operation--a grimy, dimly lit workhouse populated by a couple of stooped and wizened old women who didn't look up from their sewing machines. In that sense, there was some Olde English authenticity, in a dispiriting, Dickensian sort of way. I was wordlessly guided to the "changing room"--a corner of the dungeon draped off with a sooty green curtain--which I shared with a dust ball the size of a gopher's head, before coming out to have my shirt pinned as I stood in front of a cracked, grease-spotted mirror. Classe**, indeed.

The final insult was that the bill for alterations exceeded the initial cost of the shirt, and now I'm not even so sure I like it that much after all. It makes me look like Barney Rubble trying to look like Pablo Picasso in an outdoor cafe.

*Blogger will not allow me to use an accent over the e, as it is rendered in the original. You'll just have to imagine one.

**Or print this out and draw it in.