How many of us are glad that the holidays are over? Always ambivalent, I very much enjoy the quasi-forced merry-making, the calorie-bomb treats, the festive lights on the trees, the Druid-esque Santa iconography, the attempted generosity, and even the spirituality and / or magic that one can occasionally tap if only for a fleeting moment.
Alas, that time of year can be filled with unnecessary monetary aneurysms, social heart attacks, bloated abdomens, and the list goes on. Now, some might argue that our Capitalist Christmas is anything but benevolent, and therefore the last thing we need in a greedy-but-starving society, one whose Jesus-sponsored economy is intrinsically bankrupt anyway. And some might argue that Christmastime is exactly what we need from time to time, even as our way of life approaches a veritable event horizon.
If you are unfamiliar with the concept of an 'event horizon', imagine the point at which objects appear frozen on the precipice of say, a fathomless black hole. A very curious sight in a scientific or astronomical sense, this phenomenon allows us to see an object on the verge of oblivion. When in truth, the object in question has already been digested, as it were, by the black hole. Nevertheless, according to observers, that object has frozen in place. Almost gone but not yet disappeared . . . which leads the observer to believe that maybe, just maybe, there's still a chance that it'll escape!
This is where Neiman Marcus comes in.
Ultimately to tell us: Escape is illusion. The void is here! You too can buy a piece of the void for a mere quadrillion dollars. But oh! Correction: you may partake in a slice of void on sale today for only one trillion dollars! Come now, the void loves you. Join us and roll around naked in the void ~ it's lined with satin! Hey look ~ something shiny!!
Oh dear Goddess, save us all from Neiman Marcus. And ladies, let me tell you that I never usually set foot in this abominable store, as I often forget to wrap myself in sage or wear amulets to ward off airborne evil. But one day this past holiday season, I pushed through those doors, all the while feigning amnesia about why I despise this place to begin with.
So what caused my temporary insanity, you ask? Well, in light of the pervasive lack of decent-looking dresses in circulation, I fancied the notion that Neiman might have a better answer than a poorly sewn empire waist garment or other shapeless design whose only apparent contribution is its ability to lend a chubby appearance to coathangers. Seriously, was I really so ambitious in my quest to purchase a new dress for the holidays, whose planned obsolescence isn't quite so apparent?
Mind you, as a condition for my expedition I had performed some research online before crossing into the 7th circle of . . . (you know). And I actually found some dress possibilities that weren't as horribly priced as I had imagined, and based on that, correspondingly assumed that such garments might actually be on the floor at a retail location. Namely because the website claimed they were. Again, I'm not asking for the moon here.
Yet this vicious claim turned out to be false. But that is not why I wrote this article. If all I had to gripe about was the absence of purportedly nice but semi-affordable evening wear, I could bemoan the devolving state of Macy's and other icons, which are increasingly ridiculous in their own right. I mean, if I wanted my wardrobe to fall apart in the washing machine, I would sew my own clothes from eco-friendly paper towels.
But no! No. Neiman is the Judas of department stores and I will tell you why. Here's what happened: I walked in and approached the escalator, knowing that the dresses would be upstairs. (Yay I'm almost there! Please Goddess let there be something decent here. I don't ask for much - I hardly ever shop! Which is why I need this dang dress . . .)
So I'm upstairs and am immediately greeted by a female sales associate who probably considers herself helpful. She informs me of how many women in *this area* attend the ballet and red carpet events and thus purchase their dresses here. (Note that this Neiman Marcus is NOT situated in LA or New York but in Palo Alto, California). But of course I know who she means: probably the wives of the Silicon Valley high society. Okay no worries, I get it. Rich people live around here and shop in here. Great.
Then, she mentions a sale rack and I begin walking there before she's finished her sentence, more than happy to peruse this section. Leafing through the garments, I discover a mixture of hideous as well as attractive items, all of which have monstrous prices attached.
Ditching the 'sale' section, I half-heartedly survey and examine the rest of the dresses, whose price tags are even more strangling to behold. Approaching me one more time, the sales associate checks in, at which point I ask her about the dresses I saw advertised online.
She then answers with a short monologue sounding a lot like this: 'Oh we do not have those here anymore. Perhaps try our San Francisco store? These here are the designer dresses." (Inject haughty superior tone with a mask of politeness.) "But you know, I think those other dresses are just fine. Celebrities have worn things like that on the red carpet and no one knows the difference. I don't think they're bad. I would wear them.'
Fighting a surging wage of nausea, I then exploded with projectile vomit all over her. And the expensive dresses. So sorry about that.
Actually I kid. Instead, I thanked her for the help and quietly rode the escalator back down to the first floor.
And then I racked my confused brain. Of course you should be okay with the abhorrent notion of wearing a dress that costs several hundred dollars - a 'low' end dress. Hey wait a sec, aren't you a sales clerk? How much do you make again? Wtf!?
Risking redundancy, I will now re-inform you that she had been speaking about the more 'affordable' dresses that still cost several hundred dollars, referring to them as 'not bad,' and 'no one knows the difference,' all the while using a vaguely reassuring tone as if consoling me for considering such a sad garment.
How can this be? I wondered. She can't possibly be so rich that she can squawk so carelessly about the amount most people in this country spend on their mortgage payments. But wait, I did hear a rumor that many of the ladies working at Neiman are the wives of wealthy Silicon Valley businessmen and merely pass the time by becoming disconnected sales associates . . .
In an effort to offer a meager disclaimer, this might have been the case with the aforesaid woman. Notwithstanding, Neiman has a reputation for being 'snooty' as it were. The entire chain radiates it. Which is why I don't go in there.
But for me, the condescending tone and commentary of this lady in and of itself is not entirely responsible for my absolute disgust. More accurately, I was and still am most appalled by what the interaction symbolizes in our society - which is more relevant and dire than ever.
Now this might not be news to you (or maybe it is) but let me remind you lest we all forget: those at the top are completely out of touch with reality. They are oblivious to the economic struggles of the majority of this country. They shop at Neiman Marcus. They own Neiman Marcus. But they also own Ross, Walmart, and all of the lower-end stores in which you may be destined to spend your meager salary. A salary that you probably earn doing something you hate in order to pay the bills. And in turn, the owners of your company can thus own the world, look amazing, feel amazing, and shop at Neiman Marcus.
Don't forget that this minority of resource mongers carelessly drop crazy amounts of money on gorgeous things on a regular basis - things we all want. They do it so often they forget or maybe they don't care that others can't do the same. That others can barely survive. That women especially still get the shaft despite our increased numbers in lower paying jobs.
That most women can never wear those dresses. Many of us wouldn't be able to fit into them anyway, since affordable subsidized food products are mere paralyzing obesogens for an increasingly impoverished America whose gap between the rich and poor is a black hole in its own right.
And that's the point.
They don't want us to wear those dresses. Because if we all wore them, the sparkling ones at the top wouldn't feel as special anymore.
You know this. We know this. Still, this doesn't stop us from occasionally springing for that nice dress, saving up all of our money, all of our slave labor, so that we can finally wear a garment that doesn't fall apart in the washing machine.
Is it worth it? Maybe.
Or maybe we should start making our own clothes.