“What now?” my husband called from the other room.
“Huh,” he hollered. “I can’t make out what you’re saying.”
How could he? I had a bulky sweater stuck over my head and face, blocking my mouth and thus my ability to speak coherently. The reason I couldn’t remove the sweater: it had a strait-jacket-like camisole built into its underside.
Of course, as women know, these undergarments are designed, not by the fashion conscious, but by chauvinistic engineers trying to squeeze the human female out of existence.
Still we buy into it.
I bought this particular sweater and its inner secret at a department store I frequent regularly. You’d think I’d have known better because I’d already gotten lodged in the same type of garment, only it happened in the fitting room. When I’d tried in vain to lift that sweater and its incorporated contents over my head, I was blinded. As I flailed around outside the fitting room, a manager came, took one look and laughed so hard, she had to call in reinforcements to release me from bondage.
Obviously, I brought the latest one home to try on. I laid it on edge of the bed, and tried, as best I could, to separate the camisole part from the sweater, but the camisole was tiny and tightly bonded to the sweater. I sat at the foot of the bed on the floor and opened the camisole as wide as possible (which wasn’t very) and slipped garment over my head.
Something went terribly wrong.
The camisole’s straps were not on my shoulders, but around my neck, strangling me. The sweater part covered my face. My medic alert button was tangled in my bra. That’s when I shouted to my spouse.
He finally heeded my call, but, like the department store manager, he laughed so hard I thought when he said he’d be right back, that he was off to call our neighbors as reinforcements.
A minute later he returned with a camera.
After taking a few snapshots, he tried to release me from my imprisonment. As he attempted to lift my arms, I felt my back go out. With the sweater still covering my face, I tried to make him stop.
“My back, my back,” I said, but all he heard was a muffled, “put it back.”
And so he did.
He then tried again, this time threatening to cut the straps off.
In spite of my acute pain, I somehow nodded toward the still-attached sales tag.
“You want to return it?” he asked.
I shook my head yes, as best I could.
“Maybe,” he said, “I need to call the fire department to bring the Jaws of Life so they can delicately remove it.”
After 30 minutes he managed to get me out of it, straps intact.
I spent 48 hours in bed, recovering.
A few days later, I took it back to the store. “Some idiot bought this thing for me,” I told the associate at the customer-service desk.”
“It’s was purchased on your store credit card,” she said. “You signed for it.”
“WhatEVER.” I said. “I still want to return it.”
“Was there anything wrong with it?” she asked.
I pulled several snapshots out of my purse.
She picked up a microphone and announced over the store’s loudspeaker system, “All associates please come to service desk immediately; you will not believe this.”