Sticky Fingers // I hadn’t done anything wrong —but it sure looked like it

as told to Chaya Gross

I could hear the click-click-click of high heels coming toward me as I rummaged through the rack of dresses.

“May I help you?” asked a sweet voice.

I looked up.“Are you looking for anything in particular?”

“Actually, yes, I am,” I said as I continued searching. “My sister just got engaged this morning and her vort is tonight. I need something to wear.”

“Mazel tov!” the woman said with an even bigger smile. “That’s so nice. What kind of an outfit are you looking for?” She looked me up and down, causing me to blush. I looked like something the cat had dragged in, while she was perfectly made up, clad in the proverbial black dress with a chic gold belt at her waist. I’d stayed up half the night talking to my sister and then spent most of the morning in a daze, waiting for the big call. I had a makeup artist scheduled in an hour. In the meantime, I had thrown on a sweatshirt, an old skirt and a rain wig and run out in search of something to wear for the special event.
“Something nice,” I replied. “Elegant, but not too over the top…”

The saleslady tottered away on her heels. She appeared five minutes later with a large pile of clothing over her arm. “Come with me to the dressing room,” she said.

The first thing I tried on looked like a sack.

“Very chic,” the saleslady said unconvincingly.

It was horrible. I took it off. The next dress fit better but I hated the color.

“Green is in,” the woman said. I didn’t care.

The next dress was perfect.

“Wow!” said the saleslady as I admired myself in the mirror.

Wow, indeed. The dress was perfect. Classy with a touch of trend. And it fit me beautifully. I was on a high until I saw the price tag: $1,199.00.

“Um, is that $119.90?” I asked hopefully.

The saleslady gave me a look. I could see she was struggling not to roll her eyes.

“This dress is a Valentino,” she explained snootily. “It’s actually marked down from the original price. And it’s final sale.”

“It’s too expensive for me,” I said in a small voice. “Do you have anything like it that’s cheaper?”

“Not really,” she replied. “But I can check the sales rack.”

I could tell she was losing interest. I admired myself one last time in the mirror before taking off the most gorgeous garment I’d ever seen in my life. A few minutes later she returned with another dress. “Look what I found! It’s the last one in the store and it’s 50 percent off. It’s also final sale.”

I put it on. “I really like the other one better,” I said with a sigh as I checked out my reflection from all angles.

“The other one definitely suits you better,” the saleslady agreed. “But this one is also pretty, and it’s a real steal.”

I put the first dress back on. There was no comparison. I had an urge to splurge on it, but I knew I couldn’t hack something like that financially. I took it off.

“So what did you decide?” she asked. “Which one are you taking?”

“The cheaper one,” I replied.

The saleslady clicked after me all the way to the register at the front of the store. She plopped the pile of dresses down on the counter and then handed me my dress. “Mazel tov again.”

“Is this for a simchah?” asked the lady behind the register as she rang up my purchase.

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