|Rowena's Page, Rowena Gets a Life.||Rowena Gets A Boyfriend, Part 4|
Rowena took her friend Beth on an after-work shopping trip.
“Now,” said Rowena, “what are we looking for?”
“Something for my job interview.”
“Well, yeah, but—something like this?”
“Oh, God, no; not like that.”
“More formal?” asked Rowena. “Less?”
“Just—not like that.”
“I see.” Rowena pawed through another rack, held up a powder-blue jacket and skirt. “How about this?”
“I dunno. Kind of wishy-washy.”
“The color or the style?”
“The color,” said Beth. “I think.”
Rowena located another suit. “Cherry red,” she announced. “You can't say that's wishy-washy.”
“I'd look like a stop sign in that.”
Rowena stuffed the suit back onto the rack. “That better not be a comment on your weight,” she said, “considering we're the same size.”
“It's not,” said Beth. “I just don't want to be that conspicuous.”
“Why don't you go and have a look,” Rowena suggested. “Let's see if either of us can find anything you like.” She extracted a fourth outfit. “Oatmeal,” she said. “No resemblance to stop signs at all.”
“It's so boring.”
“Take a look,” said Rowena. “I challenge you to do better.” She meant this to be inspiring.
Beth looked around in a lost sort of way: Rowena took her by the shoulders and pushed her over to a rack of blouses. “Maybe you can start there,” she suggested, “and find something you'd like to match.” She herself moved over to a rack of jackets without skirts, and was frowning at a pastel floral when Beth tapped her arm.
“Find anything?” Rowena asked.
“This,” said Beth, holding up a sage-colored blouse, “would look great on you.”
“Your hair! This would be perfect.”
“Beth, you're supposed to be looking for something for you.”
“Just try it,” said Beth, slipping the hanger onto Rowena's arm. She looked at the jacket Rowena was holding. “Ooh, gross,” she said, and left.
By the time they broke for dinner, Rowena had tried on nine articles of clothing and bought four of them. Beth was still empty-handed. Rowena took a couple of aspirin, ordered a salad, and immediately felt she should have asked for something more substantial.
“How's Paul?” she asked. She did not want to think about clothes.
Beth sighed. “He's not speaking to me,” she said.
“Because I got him fired. We went out to eat and I asked him about his job and he started telling me all about how stupid his boss was and guess who was sitting in the booth behind him?”
“Of course it's entirely my fault.”
Beth stuck a French fry into her cup of ketchup. It was bent when she pulled it back out. “No problem. I'm not speaking to him either. He called my sister a fat whore.”
“Why on Earth?”
“My sister Tina,” Beth said. “The one who's his ex-boss' secretary.”
“Of course, the names he called me didn't help any, but you don't want to hear them.”
Rowena speared a tomato. “What do I want to hear?”
“Probably you want to tell me more about this guy Terese doesn't like.”
“She's hardly even met him. She's—you know what Terese is like.”
“I know Terese.”
“Actually, she's getting bored with him by now; he's taken me to two or three fairly normal places and she's having trouble thinking of reasons to scoff at him.”
Beth smiled. “Poor Terese.”
Rowena crumpled her napkin and put it by her plate. “So now what? Is the other mall still open, or maybe—”
“Ugh, no. I bet it's got all the same junk.”
“So what do you want to do? Have you seen anything here that maybe you—”
“Actually,” said Beth, “the only outfit I like here is the one you're wearing.”
Rowena looked down at her muted gold suit and cream-colored blouse. “What about shoes?” she asked.
“I have some shoes I think would go with that.”
“Okay,” said Rowena, pushing her chair back. “Let's go back to my apartment and I'll loan this to you.”
“Oh, thank you, Rowena. You're a lifesaver.”
Rowena gathered up her purchases. “What are friends for?” she asked.
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