Shopping for clothes is just not something I enjoy.
Maybe it’s because when I was growing up, my hometown didn’t have a lot of places to shop.
You either went to Belk or a locally owned store downtown, so depending on what you needed, you may have to venture to a neighboring town, and that seriously interrupted my book reading time.
Or, as Granny always reminded me, she could make me something to wear.
Nothing worse than being the only kid in your class wearing handmade clothes. She even sewed in a little label, ‘Made by Granny.’
It wasn’t that big of a deal until the year I blossomed from being the cute kind of chubby to being a tad bit on the chunkier side.
I knew I was chubby. We had mirrors — I could see it for myself.
The kids in my class told me I was chubby. Kids can truly be mean in that regard.
But the worst was when adults pointed it out.
Granny and Pop had taken me to get some britches — what Granny called jeans — one evening.
Now, this was a big deal because my grandfather hated to shop even more than I do, so Granny must have promised him a trip to Dairy Queen.
Granny made a beeline straight for the children’s section when we entered the store and grabbed up a few pairs of jeans for me to try on.
“You ain’t getting nothing but britches,” she reminded me. “So, don’t even go thinking about no shoes or pocketbooks, ya hear?”
I nodded and scurried into the hallway with the dressing room cubicles portioned off by curtains to try on the clothes.
I wasn’t quite sure what happened, but somehow the button was not quite meeting the hole on the other side of the waistband.
“I can’t get them to button,” I told Granny in the hallway.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“They won’t button,” I repeated.
She yanked the curtain back to observe my humiliation.
“What the –” she stopped herself. “You’re just growing. You’re about to hit a growth spurt. You gonna be tall, like I am.”
Granny was probably about 5-feet, 10-inches when she slouched, and I am pretty sure she was 6-feet at times. When she was angry, she could make herself larger, like most wild animals when in attack mode, probably reaching 6-feet, 2-inches. If she was wearing heels, she was just some mythological Amazonian warrior, ready to behead us all.
Needless to say, that growth spurt never hit, and I somehow how got stunted at 5-feet, 2-inches.
“I’ll go see if they’ve got a bigger size,” she said.
Granny went to check the racks and finding nothing larger, asked the sales clerk if they had something bigger than the size I had.
The lady seemed taken aback by the question. “Is this for a child?” she asked.
“Yes, it’s for a child,” Granny said.
I couldn’t see the lady’s expression but could overhear the exchange from the dressing room.
“What child would need something bigger than that size?” she asked, appalled.
Maybe one that had a steady diet of biscuits with sausage gravy from a grandmother who thought fried was a food group.
Realizing the store wasn’t going to have anything to fit me, I exited the dressing room, ready to leave. The clerk shot me a disgusted look when she saw me.
“Maybe what she needs is a diet and to run a few laps so she can fit in a regular size,” she commented.
“Maybe you need to mind your own dadblamed business,” Granny snapped, inching closer to the counter. “And have you taken a good look in the mirror lately? You might want to answer the door the next time the Avon lady comes a calling!”
My grandfather interceded by grabbing me up like a football, or maybe a small farm animal, under his arm and toted me out of the store, leaving Granny to eviscerate the clerk. He probably figured it was best there were no witnesses to what Granny was about to say or do.
A few moments later, she climbed into the driver’s seat of the Oldsmobile, her mood dark.
“I reckon we best go to Athens to see if we can get her some britches, Bob,” she said.
My grandfather nodded. “They might have some britches at the lumberyard. That’s where I get my overalls.”
“I don’t want overalls!” I wailed from the backseat. That was worse than homemade clothes.
“She can’t wear overalls, Bob,” Granny said. “She just needs some britches to wear to school.”
Pop nodded. “Then, let’s go to Sears. I can go look at the power tools.”
The only store my grandfather loved was Sears — it had everything he wanted in one place, and he could order from a catalog too, so he didn’t have to deal with people.
“I think Sears has a size called Pretty Plus,” Granny said, trying to reframe it as a positive.
What the heck was Pretty Plus? I wondered to myself.
“Is that a tent?” I asked. “A kid at school said I needed a tent. Am I that fat? That lady sure was mean just because I am chubby.”
“No,” Pop said gruffly. “You don’t need a tent. And that cussed old lady needed to keep her mouth shut. It’s not her place to tell other people’s kids what they need to do. She needs to sell clothes and I’m sure your grandmother told her as much.”
“But what if that Pretty Plus doesn’t fit me? Am I just too fat to have clothes that fit? I don’t know how to go on a diet.”
“Stop worrying about that right now,” he shushed me. “You can lose weight, Lil ‘Un, if and when you want to,” my grandfather said. “Mean people can’t lose ugly.”
“But what does that Pretty Plus mean exactly?” I asked.
“It means there’s extra pretty. There’s pretty in abundance,” my grandfather said, thinking fast.
“Something,” he added, “none of those mean people ever have to worry about having.”
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.