Jen Jeffrey: My Pretty Woman Moment

Sunday, December 15, 2013 - by Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey

It must be known by now, that I am a movie buff. Not so much hitting the latest blockbuster movies in theaters, but more so in identifying my life with movies I have seen a few times.

This movie adventure I stepped into today was “Pretty Woman” with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere (only, I wasn’t wearing a mini-dress and a cheap wig). I was, however, wearing my jeans, a sweatshirt and my over-sized denim jacket. The scene I stepped into was when Julia Roberts' character Vivian goes shopping on Rodeo Drive.

When I first began writing for Chattanoogan.com I was only a contributing writer and was not hired yet as a staff writer. I had moved back from Long Island and interned at News Channel 9 to see if that may be a direction I wanted to go. I am reminded of a conversation that my friend Bill Race and I had. He talked of how he always had to be presentable whenever he left his house because of people recognizing him. He said that, as I have my photo with my stories, I may get recognized as well and may have to deal with that.

I have been recognized a few times, but nothing like what the newscasters deal with, so I really don’t think much about it. If I go to an event or a nice place to eat, I take pride in myself and dress appropriately, but if I am running errands and don’t expect to meet with anyone – sometimes I just clean up and go and I don’t worry about putting on a cute outfit, make up or to have perfectly coiffed hair.

I am not a shopper. If I must get anything, I like to do it online or else I know what I plan to get and I go straight to it so that I can walk out of the store within 15 minutes. I don’t browse and I don’t go to socialize. If by chance I see someone I know, I will speak quickly but give body language that I am in a hurry and I return to my mission. I do care what I look like when I go to places where I will be with people and sit and have conversations, but as quickly as I dart in and out of a store – why would I put on full make-up and wear an outfit that might require high heels (something my feet want me to give up).

Belk's is my favorite clothing store as far as my style and fit (being a short and curvy woman). I don’t frequent Hamilton Place Mall very much even though I live two minutes away, so I never know where to enter any store and I just head for the first place I see. In this case… it was the fur coat entrance (you probably see where this is going…).

As I walked my fast pace and entered the store, my eyes had not quite adjusted from the outside daylight and I took a moment to look at the first coat on display that looked like my style. It was beige and had a fur collar. Waiting for my eyes to adjust , I ‘slightly browsed’ at the coats and heard a woman’s stern voice resound, “May I help you?” I looked up at the woman glaring at me in my denim jacket and jeans as I fondled the fur coats searching for a price tag. “No, thank you – I am just looking.” It didn’t dawn on me that I had stepped into the movie just yet.

There was no price to be found up the sleeve or inside the collar and I felt her eyes searing through me so I finally asked, “How much is this?” She answered, “That one is on sale for $99.” That was a great price for a coat and I would have possibly considered it, but I wanted to see what else they had so I moved to the next rack of coats that had a lot more fur and the woman bellowed, “That one is NOT $99!”

(Enter the movie scene when the reforming street-walker is being judged.)

I realized that I made the woman nervous as I handled the coats looking for price tags and I could see me ‘through her eyes’ … denim jacket, jeans and no make-up or jewelry… not her typical fur coat shopper. A little annoyed with her judging me for my too-casual-for-fur-appearance I asked, “Where do I find the prices… or do I have to ask you what the price of each one is?”

The saleswoman pulled out her trump card to end the game and said, “These are $8,000.00 coats… some are $5,000….”

I finally took a glance over all the coats in the store and the sign above her that said “Fur” and realized I was ‘obviously in the wrong place’. I would NEVER (no matter how much income) pay that much for a coat (and yes, I like nice things) but I also have a pragmatic side and just have better uses for $8,000.00. I think I would rather give $8,000 away to someone who needs it, than to ever just ‘wear’ it.

I quickly looked around for Richard Gere and he was nowhere to be found. Seeing flashes of the movie with that woman’s face glaring at me, I finished the scene and embarrassingly walked out of the store feeling ‘less’ in her eyes.

My eyes were adjusted to the light in the mall and as I remembered what I came in for, I headed towards the less than $8,000.00 items. I will be taking a trip to Kentucky next week and I wanted a get few sweaters and slacks.

When a woman puts on a few pounds she doesn’t want to buy a lot of new clothes as she hopes to get back in her lesser size. I still haven’t dropped the extra weight I had put on while living in New York so I haven’t ‘deserved’ getting any new clothes. At least that’s how we women may rationalize at times.

The pragmatic side of Jen headed straight for the sales, but as I thought about my fur-ocious experience, I wanted so much to use my Christmas bonus and purchase several outfits, shoes and hats. I wanted to walk back out through the fur shop and repeat the line from Pretty Woman saying, “Remember me? I was in here looking at coats and you didn’t want to help me. You work on commission, right? Big Mistake! Huge!” as I held up my many purchases chirping, “I have to go shopping now…”

But… that is not my style. I am not a vengeful person and I try to see the other person’s side. This is the Christmas shopping season and the lady at the counter who never once got up off her stool to greet me or help me and find out more about my needs, may have been having a bad day.

She was older and possibly her feet may have been hurting her and she needed to stay seated. I understand this as I care for Mama and her feet hurt after being on them for a short time. I am sure this woman had been busy with all of the Richard Geres who were buying their wives (or someone else) an $8,000 fur coat and she was just tired. I also enjoy putting my money to better use than to purchase a bunch of clothes ‘just to show her’ that I was worth more than she thought.

That woman could never understand my worth hidden underneath my denim jacket. I understood that, and it was alright with me. I did not stay embarrassed or miffed for very long because “I” know my worth. I know that it does not take donning an $8,000 piece of material made with several slaughtered animals to make me somebody special in God’s eyes.

I had found what I needed at Belk’s Better Sportswear Department and the ‘Karen Cane’ specialist named Gail was rushing around helping others yet she still stopped to help me. She was my “Bridgett” in the scene and was so helpful and nice. I was able to find the perfect outfit that I saw on a mannequin and she helped me to find my size (unfortunately, not Julia Roberts' size). Gail checked out a few others at the register and then proceeded to help me in purchasing my outfit - a hound’s-tooth belted wrap, black top and black Capri slacks.

With my carefully bundled purchase, I headed toward the fur store to leave Belk’s the same way I entered. Yes, I walked through holding up my garment bag purchase as I left the store, but I didn’t have to gloat or say anything ‘in your face’ to the woman. Like I said - she may have been having a bad day. I had everything I came in for so I was happy with my self-esteem intact, a new outfit for my trip and… my story for the week.

jen@jenjeffrey.com



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