Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Ribbon of Injustice

Dear Aerie,

I like your store. I really do. I was delighted to discover that there was such a thing as lovely, comfortable, mostly affordable lounge wear that still managed to look cute or even, dare I say it, sexy.

I like what you do. You have a relaxing, best friend's closet type of feel to your store layout. Your employees wear things that make me feel like we are about to try out new eyeshadow and watch old reruns of Dawson's Creek while talking about how fat our thighs are and eating big spoonfuls of raw cookie dough.

Truly, I like you.

It is because of this genuine affection that I write to tell you that you, Aerie, are responsible for hideous and gross mistreatment of America's women.

Imagine my delight when I arrived at one of your stores in Middle Tennessee this January to be offered a customer rewards type of punch card thingy. Unlike other 'rewards' cards that are really a covert excuse to get my address and phone number and then sell it on the black market, this lovely blue card lets me come in one Thursday out of each month and get a free gift. No strings attached, just a gift.

Well, I must say that your marketing people are very smart. They know that Codi and I (and now my sister) will drive out to your store to retrieve our free gift. They also know that I'll buy some fun new seasonal panties with things like (Christmas) lights, (Valentine) hearts, (Spring) flowers, and (Summer) tropical scenery.

We haven't known each other long, Aerie. But already you know that I'll gaze longingly at the lovely bikinis and wish I looked good in them. I'll try one on and then cry. I'll then go look at the exercise clothing, because your models look so very sporty and svelte in them. And then I'll balk at the exorbitant prices for workout t-shirts. I'll think to myself that if I bought the expensive t-shirt, I would feel compelled to exercise and then next month could come back and buy the very cute and possibly by then on sale bikini.

But instead I look at the big floppy pajama pants and hope that Austin still loves me despite my backside that looks more and more each week like a linen sack full of tapioca.

At any rate, I buy something, even if it is small. And then I proceed to the checkout where the peppy and yet not annoying employee/future best friend will punch my card and then ask me what type of ribbon I want to adorn my lovely little package.

The ribbon might be my favorite part.

Well, in case you haven't noticed, Aerie, our country, (nay...our entire universe!) is experiencing an economic downturn. And I'm sorry that I don't have the funds to just buy fun new seasonal panties. I'm currently trying to figure out my grocery shopping bill on about 17 cents per week. I have to go to one store for the cheapest _____. Then I have to go to another store for the cheapest_____. And then I have to make sure that I don't overbuy or underbuy and mess up next week's grocery bill. I would really, really like to just drown my sorrows by purchasing a fun new graphic t, and maybe some cute boxers. But the effects of buying cheap _____ include fatter thighs than ever before, so I don't even want your boxers anymore! Do you know how hard it is to maintain your figure, your pride, and your will to exercise when you eat boxed macaroni six nights a week?!

I'm sorry. That isn't your fault. But I really am stressed about it. And maybe I wouldn't have been as angry at you if I didn't have the 17 cent boxed macaroni thigh issue. But I do.

This leads us to the current problem.

On the first Thursday of April, Codi and I excitedly drove to your store. I had no money, and knew it. But I've been faithful to you, purchasing this and that and honoring your 'free' gift by giving back to your community of skinny models who probably never go to class but just look like they live in posh dorm rooms with names like Culpepper-Moncreif Hall.

Well, I didn't really feel bad about not being able to buy new pajama pants. I felt bad for myself, but not for you. You have had plenty of my money. You could supply me with a truly free gift today on this first Thursday of April. I didn't tempt my fragile self-worth by trying on any bathing costumes. I went to the desk and handed the future ex best friend employee my little eagle punch card.

Time out here while I say just how very excited I was. I mean, a FREE GIFT! In this land of dry, parched wallets, I was going to get something truly lovely and all for me! It didn't matter that I had to spend the next four weeks drooling over things I couldn't afford in the Target dollar aisle.


She asked me what ribbon I wanted. This time I went for classic black grosgrain with some smart white stitching on the sides. Lovely.

I walked outside, gently lifting the softly shimmering tissue paper until I could see My Gift nestled in the bottom of the bag.

I then ripped it back incredulously. I stopped, open mouthed, and turned to stare at Codi. She was experiencing the same dismayed shock.

Instead of a polka dot, quasi retro journal that fits in my purse or a new lip gloss like in months past, I had a small bottle of ParfumToiletWaterBodySpray called Abigail.

Well...I thought...if it isn't too bad I could keep it in my gym bag (where is it?) for 'just in casers' when I'm not sure how lovely I smell.

I opened the cheap plastic cap (not a good sign) and experienced a whiff of what I can only describe as an enveloping cloud of AquaNet.

I've uploaded a picture so you can try to remember how much of your nose hair fell out when you/your mother/older sister/grandmother sprayed this noxious substance within thirty feet of where your nose resided.

Codi said it smells like a dirty lady, and fittingly calls it the Dirty Lady Spray. This makes me think of other things, but it is a nice name for such a horrible *free* product.

I can't even give it to my kids to play with because they think it smells horrible. They use watermelon shampoo and strawberry lotion. How discerning can their little noses be? Apparently enough to eschew your newest 'gift' to the poor American public.

What were you thinking?! Seriously? I know your marketing people are only trying to get us into the store to buy stuff, but don't you think it would be effective to offer nice free gifts? Because, honestly, I don't know that I'm going to return next month. I'm certainly going to call in May before wasting Codi's gas and my feelings on another bottle of your leftovers. I'm better than that.

Because our relationship is fairly new, I'll try to give you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you are running out of money too. But just admit it, ok? Tell me the club is being cancelled and we'll have a good cry together. I'll make you some macaroni. We'll talk about how much we hate your thin models whose backsides have never even heard of tapioca.

But you can't keep this up for long, Aerie. If you are handing out crotchless panties in June or glitter coated mascara in May, I'm going to have to call off our relationship.

Sincerely, and with your Own Best Intrest At Heart,

A Loyal Customer

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