Day 2: The Payless-ening
Last month, I flew to LA to attend a friend's wedding. The day of the ceremony, my friend Clare and I got together to spend the day wandering around West Hollywood, eating Japanese novelties and buying imported energy drinks. Since she'd rented a Nevada-tagged Volkswagen and I was at the mercy of the 'Suck It, Tourist' Cab Company, she kindly offered to drive me to the wedding. I agreed, she dropped me and my Diet Jolt Cola off in front of the hotel and said she'd be back in an hour.
Determined to be on time and to look like I didn't live in storm gutter, I immediately started getting ready. I used an entire fun-sized bottle of shampoo, brushed my tongue, and painted my toenails--in some cases all the way down to the knuckle and also on the carpet and maybe just a little on the baseboards. Within thirty minutes, my eyeliner had reached emo levels and I'd twisted my hair into perfect tiny peaks. I was ready, save for actually zipping myself inside my dress, which I refuse to do until the last minute because I am the Lewis and Clark of finding trouble. Even if I did nothing but crawl into the dry cleaning bag with it, within five minutes I'd be wrinkled, ripped, and on fire.
When Clare called to say she was on the way, I yanked it--carefully yanked it--off the hanger and swapped my bath towel for my good bra, the one that makes me look like I have actual breasts and not just a pair of mealworms crawling across my sternum. After safely securing myself and my store-bought B cups, I reached for the stilettos I'd packed, one of the few pair of shoes I own that weren't purchased in a store that also sells sweat-wicking underwear.
After false-starting on my first attempt to fasten the shoe's ankle strap, I circled for a second try and the buckle went rogue, ripping entirely off and skidding away under the desk. I couldn't find it, but it didn't matter. I had one shoe on and one dangling impotently from my toe, with no way to secure it to my foot. I didn't know what to do except panic. And call Clare. "Hey," I said, swatting at the aneurysm stirring in the back of my brain. "What would you say if I said I'd just broken my shoe?"
"What? I'd say put on another pair and be downstairs in five minutes." I could almost hear her regretting her decision to play Hoke to my version of Miss Daisy's Declining Years.
"What if I said my other pair had laces and could be worn in a 10K?"
"I'd say 'oh shit'." The turn signal clacked in the background. "I'm almost here. Come down and we'll figure this out."
I couldn't stroll through the lobby barefoot. My hotel was too trendy for that, overrun with woman wearing sunglasses the size of welding masks and men with impractical scarves and improbable haircuts. Earlier that same day, I'd sneaked out the back terrified that someone would smell the outlet mall on my t-shirt and smother me with a Fred Segal bag. Unfortunately, Option B was equally unattractive. I had no choice but to walk through the packed lobby wearing these shoes:
Until I got to Clare's car, I looked like a hooker who decided to mall walk on her lunch break. Luckily Clare is both brilliant and owns a GPS. I'd barely dropped my ass into the passenger seat when she said, "I plugged 'shoe store' into the Garmin and there's a Payless two streets away!" She merged into traffic, hit all the green lights, and before I could realize I had nail polish on both ankles, she was idling in a handicapped space outside a strip mall.
I burst through the door, caught the eye of a woman wielding a pricing gun and asked "What do you have that goes with this outfit?"
"These is our evening shoes," she said, giving a lazy gesture toward the aisle closest to the register.
Within thirty seconds, I'd crammed both paws into a black and silver pair that didn't look like they were purchased within 15 feet of an AutoZone. "Is that it or do you want to BOGO?" asked the cashier, whose name tag was decorated with a picture of a knife-wielding devil. Perhaps sensing that I didn't know if 'BOGO' was a game or a sex act, she continued with "If you buy one, you get one half price".
"No, I'll just BO, I guess, and hold the GO," I told her. "And I won't need the box."
I teetered back to the car--one sneaker in each hand--and vaguely remember high fiving Clare as she typed the wedding's location into the GPS. If that Garmin had been a person, I totally would've let it touch my boob.
Believe it or not, we rolled in on time. Clare parked the car, I double checked for price tags and we walked in with a couple I'd met at dinner the night before. We'd taken two steps into the brightly lit courtyard when I looked down and noticed I'd somehow streaked myself with ball point pen. I was trying to discreetly lick my own dress when someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was the woman from the parking lot. "Nice to see you again," she said, "Looove those shoes!"
"Doesn't it feel good to pay less?" I told her and headed for the bar.