Yesterday we wound up making an emergency trip to Portland. Danny's in his final term of graduate school; this term consists of participating in a final design project. He's designing and making calculations for a footbridge from the main U of O campus to the buildings along the Millrace, something I would have loved when I was a student, lugging a large format camera, tripod, portfolio bag, and shoulder bag well after dark, in the rain.
Anyway, he needed bridge codes and the Norwich University librarian did some checking around. The only college with a copy was Portland University. An interlibrary loan would have taken eight weeks, the library was closed on Saturday...thus the emergency Friday afternoon trip.
All is well, Danny got the codes (which are contained in a six-inch bider that isn't quite large enough), and we had time on our hands before meeting up with Danny's brother and his family. I had planned on shopping for a few items, so we headed for the Clackamas Town Center's Nordstrom.
See, I wanted to find a bra. I had a fairly concrete idea of what I wanted, brand, color, and size, and it's a tough brand to find in Eugene. I was delighted to find that a.) Nordstrom carried exactly what I was looking for, and b.) it fit the way I wanted.
Very happy. But that's when the inquisition began.
"How do you wash your bras?" The salesgirl asked as I handed her my card.
I hesitated. First, not many people ask me how I do laundry, and they're probably smart that way. Inviting a discussion about laundry techniques is to invite a longer conversation. I was raised in a family that takes laundry pretty seriously. Laundry and stain removal. And I love clothes, so it makes sense that I obsess a little over such things, because there's nothing I hate more than losing a perfectly good garment to a badly performed washing.
I had to be prompted. "Cold water?" She asked.
I nodded. "Cold water. I fasten everything together."
"Do you have a lingerie bag?"
I feel guilt. I don't. I've been meaning too, but haven't gotten around to it. I consent to purchasing one.
But she's not done. "What detergent do you use?
This is a more complicated question than she realizes. I generalize. "I use Tide Total Care."
(Note: I have used Tide Total Care since the second they claimed it prevented pilling. I hate pilling like no other, and frankly I don't care much about the other six signs of beautiful clothes, I just don't want things to pill.)
"Oh, you should never use Tide. Too sudsy," she said. I may as well have said that I wash my clothes with motor oil.
At this point, I feel like my laundry skills are the subject of criticism, so I disclose a portion of my laundry dark secret. "I also have Woolite for colors."
(Note: This is hedging. Big time. I technically have three laundry detergents. Three. There's the Tide Total Care that I use for linens and pill-prone garments, but there's also the Woolite for colors for brights, and Woolite for darks. In my defense, Martha Stewart told me to use the Woolite for darks on jeans, because it's the one detergent that doesn't contain red-based brighteners that make the jeans fade and appear lighter. I hate fading jeans almost as much as I hate pilling.
In addition to my three detergents, I have liquid fabric softener without dye and fabric softener sheets. And powdered Biz. And Shout. But the salesgirl doesn't need to know this.)
"Oh no, Woolite's very sudsy too."
I know where this is going. She wants me to buy the Nordstrom brand lingerie wash. She makes her pitch.
Now, I can buy into a decently made lingerie bag. Truly, I can. You'll use it over and over for several years. Lingerie wash, though, has a more finite lifespan, and I really can't justify buying such a thing from a department store when I'm quite certain there has to be SOMETHING by SOMEONE that isn't (oh horrors) "sudsy."
And yes, I weasel this out of her. "Something from the grocery store by Arm & Hammer is fine too."
"And you let them hang dry?"
I tell her I wouldn't think of doing otherwise. This is not a lie. She tells me they've recorded my name and bra size into the system. I nod, not sure I feel about having such things on record. You never know what's going to end up in your FBI file.
I finally pay and leave, getting the slight feeling that the sales crew does not quite trust me with the care and keeping of this bra. That's their problem.
We walked back to the car and I mulled the bra experience over in my head. The more I mulled, the more I felt like I'd just gone in to get an oil change and been told I desperately needed a new filter and new ____ fluid and my ____ changed and if I didn't it was likely my car my explode.
See, I'm not opposed to taking good care of my garments. I think I've demonstrated that. But at a certain point...seriously? For a $38 bra? If this were a $100-something Aubade bra, sure, throw in the specialty wash and a glass case for when it's not being worn. But really? A $38 bra?
Am I going to look for Arm & Hammer detergent next time at the store?
I decline to answer that question.