It's not about the house.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Oh Where Can You Go When Your Money Gets Low?

Filene’s Basement is closing.

And for those of you who don’t live in the Boston area, I’m not talking about the chain of mall stores that come off like a downmarket TJMaxx. I’m talking about the Filene’s Basement. The one your grandmother used to talk about. Even if she’d never been to Boston, I know she talked about it. And it’s closing.

Not forever. Or so they say. Just for two years, for renovations. But even if it does re-open (and even if they have the best intentions, there’s no guarantee of that) you just know it isn’t going to be the same. The new landlords will probably make them mop the floors and build changing stalls into the ladies fitting rooms. You know, new-fangled conveniences like that.

But in the meantime, Filene’s Basement is closing – which means a closing sale!

Prudence took herself down there. She was meeting a friend for drinks and she had a little time to kill…

It was weird. All the merchandise was shoved into a little area and roped off with yellow caution tape. The racks where I got all five pairs of fabu sunglasses – gone. The changing room where I tried on one red dress after another in front of twenty-seven gorgeous black ladies of several sizes till I finally settled on this beauty:

Kidding. This one:


All that was left on the racks were scads of men’s dress shirts, with swarms of men milling about – all obviously under orders from their wives to hit the sale before it ended, and all obviously without a notion what to do now they were here.

In the bins were stacks of packageless designer underwear. This is where the men wound up. They knew how to buy their skivvies. Check the number! 34? No. 42? No. 28? Hell, no. 36? Just right… Every time a clerk-lady would dump a new bucket-o-briefs in there, it was like Cousteau dumping chum over the side of ay Calypso. They were like piranhas!

(I can mix my similes, it’s all right. Goody said so.)

My favorite Filene’s Basement story, speaking of sales clerk ladies? I once went in to get myself a wallet. I use the men’s kind, because I mostly like to keep it in my pants (now I do, anyway – not so much when I was younger). But I couldn’t find them. Belts, shoes, handkerchiefs, eyeglasses, eyeglass cases – every single other men’s accessory – but snake-eyes on the calfskin. So I found a very stately-looking African-American salesclerk lady standing at military ease in one of the aisles.

“Can you tell me where I’d find men’s wallets?” I asked her.

“In their pockets, usually,” she replied, with just the barest hint of smile. And then she told me where to really look.

She was there today. She’ll be unemployed now.

But the upstairs was where it was really at. Ladies Department. Stand back, boys, the professionals are here…

My Grammy Ferg would have been proud. Everybody had to touch everything, nothing was good enough even though it was all 75% off, and they were all commenting about it to each other and to me.

“You should’ve been here yesterday. They were still using the regular markdown system then.”

“These here should be free – look at them.”

“Oh my goodness, they look like they’ve been left out in the rain!”

(That last was me, channeling Grammy Ferg.)

You had to fight and bite and scratch and tear just to get a look at something, and if whoever had it in their hands decided no, they dropped it on the floor. (Grammy Ferg would not approve of that.)

I decided I didn’t have the patience for most of it. I don’t need cheap jeans as badly as all that, and if I do I’m not too proud for Goodwill. Plus most of them here were a size 2, anyways. Which I am not. And never will be. I know that now.

So I concentrated on the dress-up stuff. Who knows when I’ll need it? Maybe never, maybe soon, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had anything nice and new (that red dress was for my cousin’s wedding in September of ’03 – I wasn’t shopping formal this time, but you see my point).

I scored a pair of Anne Klein suit pants for $7.50. Black with tiny pinstripes, in size 12. Which I am also not. But I was last week and will be again. That's more realistic.

I scored this shirt:

I don’t know what brand it is and it’s really not so much my style, but it cost $1.50 so why not? And who knows, maybe my boobs will be higher someday. And not quite so big.

These, however – these are the coup de grace (pardon my French):

Barney’s NY. Originally priced $275. TWENTY BUCKS! Don’t know when I’ll have occasion to wear them out, or if they’ll still be fashionable when I do. But you can bet your bippy I’ll be parading around the AssVac in them when Johnny’s out of town, smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo (don’t tell me I’ve nothing to do in fabu shoes!)...

Goodbye F.B. Every time I’m in my undies in front of a bunch of strangers, I’ll think of you and shed a cheap-ass tear…


MP said...

Grammy Ferg used to go with two sisters who were friends. Mary and Anna Pohner. They were a hoot and would snatch things away from her or each other pretending they were not together. They alws pronounced it like fuhleans.

Shannon said...

ohmigod!!!!! How I wish I could've joined you! I'm now having a quiet moment to mourn the closing of FB.

Georgetown House said...

OMG Filene's basement!!

Those shoes are totally fabu, btw. Nothing my big wide flat feet could ever fit into or endure, but still quite sexy.

My FB story: Rewind to 1983, I'm in graduate school at Tufts, I've got an interview the next week and no '80's power corporate clothes to wear. Someone tips me off that FB has some decent corporate quality stuff in at the moment, so I race down. But see, I'd been to FB before and being super dirt poor I had only bought a couple of little super cheap things that didn't require trying them on. And someone had mentioned about the changing rooms but I"d forgotten. And this was... well, this was still during that time in my perky 20's where I felt that undergarments were opressive to women or just plain not fun to wear or I was still rebelling or something, I don't know. So I've picked out some great clothes to try on and it suddenly dawns on me... I have to try them on. I'm wearing no underclothes. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

I doubt if I'm the only person to end up buckass nekkid in the FB changing room, but I think I was probably the one who felt the most humiliated about it.

charlie said...

I am so proud of went shopping...AND you bought something

superblondgirl said...

Not Filene's Basement!! I got great Ralph Lauren gloves there for like $2 years and years ago, and I still have them. I loved that place.
The shoes are HOT, though. I'm jealous.