Fully vaccinated, comedian Gail Forrest decides to go post-pandemic clothes shopping. But the experience isn't quite what she expected.

Thank You, Mom.

I am not a shopper. I refer to myself as an anti-shopper and have friends who would testify under oath about my inability to go in a store and purchase. I have no patience for it and I’m cheap. My closet is empty. The clothes that hang in it are lonely. It’s like a big echo chamber. My friend Andrea once spent thirty seconds looking in before she started screaming, “Is this it? Where are the rest of your clothes?” That was it. 

Last March, as I stared into my vacuous closet, I decided some new clothes were my post-pandemic goal

Last March, as I stared into my vacuous closet, I decided some new clothes were my post-pandemic goal. My mother would have been proud to hear me voice any interest in shopping as she was incapable of going in a store and not purchasing. She could dress all of France with the clothes in her closet she had never even worn. You would think I was wired to be a shopaholic but my genes are defiant. I was, however, determined after a year in three pairs of sweatpants and a few old torn hoodies to go out and shop. 

With two vaccines in the books it was time to get off my ass, defrost my credit cards, kiss Amazon good-bye and purchase in person. I picked a small boutique as not to be overwhelmed in a big department store with racks and racks of clothes my first time out shopping. I wanted peace and longed for medication. I took my little rescue dog Tulip with for moral support as she could serve as a reason to make a quick escape if the experience or price tags became too overwhelming. I took a quick overview of the store, which looked inviting, and began a slow, measured walk along the racks.  

I had no idea what I wanted, only what I didn’t want: sweatpants!

I had no idea what I wanted, only what I didn’t want: sweatpants! Which, btw, have made a huge fashion comeback in a myriad of spring colors and tie-dye. They looked so comfy and familiar but I stopped myself short of taking a pair to try on. My mother’s genes were slowly kicking in. A salesperson approached me and, instead of running out in fear of another human as I had done for the last year, I stood and smiled. She was friendly and wanted to help but I was still adjusting to shopping in person with mirrors and overhead lighting and wanted to go it alone. I was thankful for a mirrorless twelve months on Amazon! I continued rifling through the racks looking for some cute tops and finally found a few to try. The Mom “force” was strong in me now. 

The real test was still ahead…jeans. I desperately needed at least one new pair. Buying jeans is the hardest shopping test there is. The mood has to be a perfect state of calm and confidence as well as monastic patience. For me this moment doesn’t come along often, but it was here in this store on this day April 20, 2021. I have strict jean criteria: just the right color blue, not too dark or too light, no shredding at the bottom, no giant rips (shocked that’s still the rage), skinny legged but with a minimal amount of spandex, and fitting at mid hip. The criteria was giving me a headache, besides not knowing if I was a size 24, 25, or 26. I was tempted to grab Tulip and run but, stoic and a bit weakened, stayed the course. I finally needed help and again longed for meds, but instead asked the salesperson for assistance. She put seven pairs in the dressing room for me to try. I stared at them like they were enemy combatants and in my rattled brain they were. 

When did jeans become as expensive as a car?

THE DRESSING ROOM! I suddenly felt like I was in a carnival fun house. Three mirrors which reflected every inch of my body front and back in one small, artificially lit room was like being on a bad acid trip. I had been living in a dimly lit, almost mirrorless apartment for twelve months and seeing so much of myself all at once made me break out in a sweat. My monastic patience was fading. I pulled or yanked on pair after pair: too small, too tight, too stretchy, too blue, too big in the butt, and, the most depressing, can’t get over my calves! Six pairs later, one pair of FRAME jeans fit but again the real world kicked in when I looked at the price. When did jeans become as expensive as a car?

Next were the tops I had taken in with me. I am not sure if I screamed or fainted when I saw my wrinkled, jiggly arms in the mirror. When did that happen? When did my arms turn 97 without me? Or was there someone else in the dressing room who was 97? I lift weights — how could this be me? I had to leave, I had to buy heavier weights. I needed to breathe or seek asylum in a monastery. I saw enough of myself in one day for a lifetime.  

I grabbed a dark green tie-dye LONG SLEEVED t-shirt, the jeans, paid and left mildly triumphant.

RIP Mom!


  1. Another brilliant piece written by the one and only…Something we can all relate to!! Thanks for making me laugh again!!

  2. Brava, Gail! And BRAVE! These days, the only way I would go into a dressing room is at gunpoint. Good for you and Tulip, your lovely, also-brave assistant.

    Thank you for being a role model of courage AND for the laughs.

    (I don’t get it with severely ripped jeans either.)

    • Well I am not really brave just desperate for clothes. I can hardly look at a pair of sweat pants and they are all the rage in the stores! Although as I write this I am wearing a pair…. it’s a hard habit to break and so comfy. Thank for commenting. And laughing!

  3. Aw Gail… was it really that bad? It was definitely that funny though. Glad you found some jeans!! What will you do next… it’s almost summer 🙂

    • It really is that hard for me. I used to do “drive by” shopping so I didn’t even have to go in the store. Or I stand in the doorway look around and leave….true! I am determined however to get a few more things. Have not worn the new jeans yet…


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Gail Forresthttp://www.gailforrest.com
Gail Forrest is a comedy writer and stand up comic. She studied at Second City in Chicago and has performed at Pretty Funny Women and Flappers in LA, as well as Second City to name a few. She has a published book Gonepausal on Amazon about women in midlife and is working on a new which includes men and promises to be just as funny with even more insights on aging.


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