The other night, an elderly friend and I were talking about how before we know it, Christmas will be here. This led to the subject of shopping for gifts.
“Thank goodness for gift cards!” I said. “They are a lifesaver, especially for the hard-to-please.”
“I think gift cards are tacky,” he said. “And to be honest, I feel embarrassed whenever I have to use one.”
I had to disagree. I, for one, love gift cards and never have felt embarrassed when using one.
Well…actually, that’s not entirely true. There was one gift certificate I received a few years ago that did cause me some embarrassment. It was for $100 at Victoria’s Secret.
I once heard a female comedian say that she finally had figured out exactly what Victoria’s secret is…it’s that most women of normal proportions can’t fit into any of the stuff she sells.
I’m not embarrassed to admit I usually buy my underwear in packages of five for $7.98, usually at one of two stores ending with the word “Mart.” And everything I buy is for comfort, not style. I’ll take white cotton full-coverage panties any day over leopard bikinis or, heaven forbid, a thong. At least when I bend over while wearing jeans, if the waistband slides down, my backside never will be mistaken for a plumber’s.
The Victoria’s Secret gift certificate I received was unusual in the fact it was made of paper. I mean, nowadays, stores issue gift cards that look like and are used like credit cards. I hadn’t seen a paper certificate since the Nixon administration.
Rather than embarrass myself by walking into an actual Victoria’s Secret store and being subjected to the “what’s that saggy old lady doing in here?” stares from the clerks, I decided to check out the company’s website on my computer. I was both shocked and delighted to discover the online store sold jeans, blouses, jackets and even shoes!
Eagerly, I studied my options. After about 45 minutes of deliberating, I finally selected an exclusive patent-pending pair of jeans called the “VS Uplift,” which supposedly had a hidden “butt lifting” feature built into the back. Just the thought of my backside (which looked as if I were smuggling two flapjacks in my pants) being transformed into something that resembled Jennifer Lopez’s, made me press the “buy now” button.
I also ordered a pair of wedge-heeled denim sandals. The total for the two items? Six dollars more than my gift certificate. I nearly needed CPR.
As I went through the payment process online, I was relieved to see a box that said, “click here” to use a gift certificate. I clicked it and then was asked to enter the certificate’s number, which I did. After that, I was asked to enter the PIN number on my gift card.
Well, I didn’t have a PIN number because I didn’t have a card. I had only a piece of paper. So I couldn’t complete the order.
Frustrated, the next day I headed over to a Victoria’s Secret store. Optimistic soul that I was, I was hoping the in-person store carried some of the same things the online store did.
The moment I set foot in the place, however, I knew I was in trouble. I saw displays of smelly things like cologne and body sprays…and lingerie…lots and lots of lingerie. And there wasn’t a $7.98 five-pack of cotton panties anywhere to be found.
As I walked past racks of glittery and flowered panties that were so tiny they wouldn’t even stretch over my ankles, never mind my hips, I felt a rapidly impending sense of doom.
Even the bras, with their spaghetti-thin, dainty straps, looked as if they couldn’t support two hard-boiled eggs without snapping. They were nothing like the super-structured ones I usually wore, with wide, padded straps thick enough to hold up two cannonballs, if necessary.
“May I help you?” a clerk’s voice came from behind me.
“Um, where are the butt-lifting jeans and the denim sandals I saw online?” I asked her.
“Oh, those are sold only online,” she said. “Different designers promote their products on Victoria’s website. But we don’t do that here in the stores.”
I frowned as I stared at a rack of bras with push-ups, plunging fronts and enough lace to trim a wedding gown – and I honestly couldn’t picture myself wearing any one of them under my sweatshirt when I walked my dogs – or picked up their poop.
That’s when I spotted something on the checkout counter that made my eyes light up…a display of gift cards! I rushed over and grabbed one. “I’ll take this!” I said to the clerk.
“How much would you like it for?” she asked.
“A hundred dollars!”
She rang up the sale and I handed her my paper gift-certificate as payment. She just stared at it in a way that made me feel as if she thought I’d just fished it out of the toilet.
“I think I’ve seen only three of these during the whole time I’ve worked here,” she finally said. “I don’t even remember how to ring one up.”
She called for assistance, and soon I was headed home with a gift card, complete with a PIN number, in hand.
I immediately logged onto my computer and ordered the jeans and sandals I’d previously tried to purchase. This time, my gift card was accepted.
And then I was informed that both items were indefinitely on backorder.
There were a few things I really wanted to say to Victoria right about then…but I decided I’d be better off keeping them a secret.
# # #
Good news! For those of you who don't already know, the Senior Beacon News has hired me to write a monthly humor column for them. It's called "Sally's World," and it debuted in this month's issue. I'm hoping this will be the beginning of a long and rewarding relationship!
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