There's something fishy about his shirt sizeMay 19, 2021
By SCOTT SAALMAN
I guess I’ll confess before my friend, ____, at the local haberdashery gets to you first.
I bought a $66 shirt there the other day, an aqua-colored beauty, patterned with multi-colored fish.
That alone is not the confession.
The shirt size was XL.
That’s my confession.
I repeat: XL.
Prior, I had never needed an XL anything, especially for a clothing size that seemed to be lifted from the title of a Super Bowl championship.
I repeat: XL.
At first, I lifted its L-sized counterpart from the fish shirt display table. L is my go-to size. I prefer slack around the torso due to my sensory processing issues.
“What size are you considering?” ____ said behind the cash register.
“Large,” I said. “I like wiggle room.”
“That brand runs a bit small,” ____ forewarned. I was immediately taken aback by his skeptical look as I admired the L shirt. I couldn’t believe he used the “that brand runs a bit small” line on me. Clothiers have said that for centuries just to make customers feel better about themselves should they have to upsize.
I didn’t like ____’s insinuation. How dare he pair me with an XL. Had he forgotten about my purchase of S shirts and M shirts in the past?
____ had always been a trustworthy haberdasher. I considered him the Yoda of tailors in town. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t overdue for an eye exam. With great certainty, I said, “A large will do.”
The store’s tiny fitting room is a claustrophobic’s nightmare. It makes a porta-potty seem Taj Mahal spacious. I’m surprised the fire marshal even allowed XL people to go inside. It’s so small that apparently there’s not enough room to even attach a mere quarter-inch-thick mirror on the inside of the fitting room door. Once you put on your possible new clothes, you have to step outside to view yourself in a mirror on the exterior side of the door while everyone else in the store can size you up and see the reflection of your disappointed face when you realize you’ve graduated to a larger size since your last visit.
I have been humbled in that fitting room each time my waist had expanded to the next size. It would be fitting to erect a sign with the following phrase on its door: “Watching Scotty Grow.”
I put on the L fish shirt and was shocked to learn that it would not do. I didn’t even need a mirror to draw that conclusion. The shirt stuck to me like snakeskin. I felt like David Bruce Banner just before his shirt rips while morphing into The Incredible Hulk. Suddenly, this cute, local, family-owned shop had morphed into “the little clothing shop of horrors.”
I couldn’t believe it. I needed an XL. I hoped Yoda ____ was right. Apparently, the brand DID run a bit small. I handed the failed L shirt over the counter to be refolded.
“Like I said, that brand runs a bit small.”
“I can’t believe a large is too tight.”
“Try an XL.”
I glanced sideways to see if anyone was listening. “S-h-h-h. There’s no way in hell I’m buying an XL,” I said.
Still, I found myself lured back to the fish shirts, for they continued to catch my eye. There were hundreds of fish on the shirt, maybe thousands, enough to drive a person mad if he or she needed an exact count. It would cause even Jacques Cousteau to scratch his head, break into a sweat, abandon the abacus, and walk away while crazy-man muttering, “#$^& fish!” Pardon the French.
The short-sleeved button shirt, part of a spring/summer collection, was snazzier than a Hawaiian shirt, but still seemed to be loads of fun to wear. Considering the cost, it even might be respectable enough to wear at a funeral home, especially if the deceased is a commercial fisherman.
I frowned as I stared down at the XL tag. I couldn’t bring myself to touch the fish shirt.
“I just can’t do it, ____,” I said.
“Do you know _____ _____? Well, he bought that very same shirt. He took a large one home without trying it on but then came back for an XL.”
I know who ____ ____ is, but I don’t know-know him. I think he was on a billboard. While he did look XL way up there, when I saw him around town, he didn’t fit an XL kind of guy profile.
It felt weird to hear ____ ____ mentioned in the same sentence as his shirt size. Had a haberdasher-customer privilege just been broken? Was there even such a thing? A HIPAA law? ZIPAA, in this case?
Knowing that ____ ____ needed an XL made it easier for me to finally take the XL shirt into the fitting room. I liked its fit. There was plenty of breathing room. I could inflate like a puffer fish and still take comfort. At the counter, I said, “Let me guess. The next customer interested in this shirt is going to know Scott Saalman had to upsize to an XL?”
____ laughed — whether in denial or confirmation, I couldn’t tell. If my name does come up during the next fish shirt transaction, I only hope the customer is assured that the brand runs a bit small.
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