Sunday, May 8, 2011

Shopping with my temporary, surrogate mom, the day before Mother’s Day

As the weather warms up here in Ulsan, it remains unpredictable. Like that Katy Perry song, it’s hot then it’s cold, but late spring has brought the desire to go shopping and make some summer clothing purchases. Mostly uneventful and just like shopping anywhere else, barring the crazy club music booming from every other shop and competing for your attention, there was one exception.

Last weekend I successfully purchased my first pair of sunglasses …

Yes. First. In my life.

And yes, I’m 26.

Monday, I purchased a cute pair of sandals from Zara, my go to place for shoes when I get sick of looking at same, same, same.

And Saturday, I went shopping for shorts … again.

For some reason the shorts styles here are nuts. (This is also pretty normal that I don’t like the shorts styles that are popular. What’s wrong with some classics?)

Either, a) they are very Korean style in that they are high-waisted and flared;

OR b) they are huge, baggy cut-offs that are not flattering and look like you took your boyfriend’s holey, worn-out, work jeans and hacked them off.

So, shopping for a pair of shorts has been a chore.

After days, I finally found a pair I liked on the hanger. I grabbed a small and medium because I didn’t know what size to get. Like most shops in Korea, the sales lady hovered right behind me, but didn’t offer me any real opinion on size.

When I walked into the dressing room, I noticed that there was no mirror. I shrugged. No mirror is pretty par for the course in Korean shops. At least there's a dressing room. I put on the size small. They were a bit snug to get on, but they didn’t feel too small. Then, I stepped out of the dressing room to look in the mirror. They looked good. Again, snug, not too short, and cute. Sexy, even. Or so I thought.

I looked away from the mirror and up at the shop assistant. She had continued to hover, and in her loosely fitting, conservative, Korean style clothes, the look on her face told me she disapproved. I knew it. Even before she said, “Maybe you should try ‘M’.”

I looked at her in shock. Then looked back at the mirror and thought, “Yeah, I guess the sitting down test might strain the seams, and while they look good while I’m standing … hmm.”

So, reminded of what it was like shopping with my mother (when I was 9), I tried on the medium. After how hot the small made me feel, I was overall unimpressed with the medium. They really didn’t look bad, and yes, they would be more comfortable overall. But they weren’t hot.

The shop assistant, my mom in a Korean disguise, approved.

My mom’s words rang in my head, “Are they comfortable? Can you sit in them?”

Trying to brush these practical notions all aside, I went back in the dressing room and tried on the small again. Yes, they would be snug when I sat down. They might not be the most comfortable shorts, but I like them!

I got dressed in my clothes again.

I walked back to the rack where the shorts hung.

The color I wanted wasn’t in small.

I was stuck.

Do I insist on a small when the shop lady disapproves? She will have to go find them for me, and then, she might just lie.

Or should I just buy a medium?

I struggled, debating with myself and possibly muttering under my breath.

Then, indecisive, I left the store without making a purchase, pissed that it felt like I was shopping with someone who wanted to be my mom, but wasn’t, and knowing damn well that my actual mom would let me make my own decision because I’m 26 for crying out loud!

I wandered around a bit more.

I called a friend.

Then, I found the same style and “brand” of shorts at another shop. The sizes were a bit different … the small was much too small. The medium fit very nicely, but they didn’t have the color I wanted.

Frustrated with my search for shorts that had lasted more than a week, I gave in. I knew I wouldn’t find anything better for the same price, and I didn’t want to look anymore.

So before meeting some friends for lunch, I went back to the store with my mom in mind (the practical shopper) and bought the medium. I have yet to wear the shorts in public, but I plan on trying them out today.

I’m sure the medium will suit me just fine.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! Thanks for always helping me to second guess my purchases ;) and also, thank you for not being like an overbearing Korean mother!

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