Post-Dentist Shopping

I wanted to reward myself this past Saturday because I was so good at my dentist appointment.  I mean, I’m always good at the dentist because I don’t outwardly demonstrate my intense fear and don’t bite his finger when he revs up the high-powered scaler. 

You see, I don’t enjoy the dentist, thanks to a very unpleasant journey with my wisdom teeth when I was 21, and I try to psyche myself up to go to my appointments by promising myself something fun to do after it’s over.

I chose a shopping trip with my daughter, which I thought would be great. This was a naive decision to make, probably because I haven’t actually shopped for myself in about nineteen years, give or take a child’s entire life span. I remember buying maternity clothes with the first pregnancy and then the rest is a blur.

When I was in my twenties, shopping was fun because I was cute and everything fit. I recalled that dopamine rush of finding a really great dress on sale and figured I’d try to replicate it on my search for a dress for the wedding of my step-daughter this summer.

Well. Let me tell you, shopping at the age of forty-plus-ten is a little different than shopping at forty-minus-seventeen. First of all, things don’t fit. I decided to round up the size so everything would feel loose and I’d have to ask for a smaller size. I looked forward to that smug sensation. Except I was grossly mistaken. Mexican sizes in formalwear leave no self-esteem unshaken.

Also. Did you know that almost everything is backless nowadays? And that the front cannot be pulled up for better coverage?  And that you should bring your own assistant to help you work out where all the straps go? Thank goodness for my daughter, who intuitively knew where things went, regardless of the eye roll that went with every yank of the zipper. 

I spent the day shopping, gums throbbing, self-confidence plummeting into the parking garage underneath Liverpool. It dawned on me at one point that I should have chosen a more calming activity, like jackhammering the sidewalk or snacking on tinfoil. But I tried to keep my spirits up for my girl, who was doing some shopping of her own.

As my daughter and I walked to the car she said, “Man, I looked terrible in that satin dress in that last store.”

I couldn’t quite decide if she was joking or not, because in my mind she could make a paper bag look like House of Gucci. I read her face and realized she was absolutely serious. And I also realized that she had probably been hearing some of my muttered comments as she attempted to help me zip up that slightly-too-small floral number. 

I turned to her, smiling, and said, “Well, you know what that means, right?”

She started to answer me, but I decided to keep right going. “It means that dress did NOT deserve you.” 

Setting aside my sore gums and slightly loose upper arm skin, those dresses didn’t deserve me either. We all deserve to feel beautiful in our own skin; daughters, mothers, forty-plus, forty-minus. And we shouldn’t tell ourselves any different. 


  • Leza Warkentin

    I have been living and teaching in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, since the turn of the century. I am a Canadian with a musician-Mexican husband and two Mexican-Canadian patas saladas who are growing up way too fast.

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