21 June 2007

Sometimes you have to tap a bitchy-looking girl on the shoulder

Without glasses, I have 20/200 vision.

With glasses, my meticulously applied eye makeup is shielded from all those DC women for whom it was meant to serve as get-up-10-minutes-earlier-and-use-your-eyelash-curler inspiration.

As such, outside of work, the movie theater and the evenings sitting on my bah'um in my living room - my only room - typing up these pieces, you'll almost always find me frames-free and blind as Josh Duhamel. Having recognized for some time that I'm about two accidental eye-pencil pokes away from guide-dog eligibility, I've taught myself never to believe what I see unless it is within 10 feet of my hazel eyes.

When you take that tried-and-true rule of thumb, add three Heineken Lights and a lunch that consisted of a nectarine, two Hershey nuggets and half a 260-calorie tray of inedible Lean Cuisine...well, those 10 feet of good vision shrink to about 10 inches. If that. This is why, on my way home last night, I stared long and hard at the back-of-the-skintight-pants stain that seemed to be growing with each step the very unfriendly-looking young woman in the giant sunglasses in front of me at the corner of 17th and M was taking before I took the drastic action I eventually did.

An action, up until yesterday, I had never taken.

(tapping her on the shoulder) "Excuse me, Miss?"

(taking out her left iBud) "Yes?"

"Um, I just needed to tell you that you should wrap your jacket around your waist."

"Excuse me?" (the italics really don't do her attitude justice)

"I'm not trying to be weird, sorry, I'm...it's just that, well, you have a stain on the back of your pants, and I think it's..."

"What? Oh my...(turning around and looking down), oh my God! Oh my God! What do I do?"

"...getting bigger."

"No seriously, what do I do?? I'm on my way to dinner with people from work - my boss will be there! - and I'm supposed to meet them right now on 14th Street."

"You could walk back up to Connecticut and buy another..."

"(looking at her watch) Shit, it's past 8:30 Everything's closed!"

"What size are you?"


"What size are you?"

"An eight - why?"

"Well, I don't have anything that'll fit you well, but you're welcome to walk back with me to my place and at least get something clean."

(her tone softening) "Are you serious?"

"You're about to have dinner with people from work. As someone who constantly complains about DC fashion, I can't in good conscience let you walk in and sit down on that (pointing to the now even larger oblong oval crawling down her right pant leg)."

And so she wrapped her black sweater around the seat of her pants, and we walked the few blocks back to my place discussing high heels ("what's the point of a one-inch heel, honestly?" she asked), her initial bad attitude ("I was a total bitch, wasn't I?"), the vague allusion to my love/hate relationship with random meetings on the corner of 17th/M ("there's just something about this intersection that invites drama...") and of course, our mutual affection for Neil Diamond ("Cracklin' Rose? Are you kidding me? Shilo is clearly his best work!").

Don't worry Mom and Dad, I didn't drunkenly invite a stranger into my apartment, but I did let her into my building, elevator her down four options (two skirts and two pairs of jersey trousers) to try on in the lobby restroom, and as a result earn a very sincere hug and promise to return the skirt, which, to both our surprises, fit her like a perfect pair of cashmere-lined leather gloves.

"You should just keep it."

"No, I couldn't..."

"I haven't worn it in two years. Seriously, keep it."

So she did - or will - and just like that, I took one DC woman from a pair of too-tight trousers and put her in a fitted, flattering chocolate brown pencil skirt.

Like my old header used to say, "I'm taking the DC style intervention one woman at a time..."


freckledk said...

That is awesome. Sure that she'll never forget you.

Lady Tiara said...

this was a very good deed. i can only imagine the horror of going home after a work dinner, taking your pants off, and discovering that there is a massive stain that no one could have missed if they saw you from behind. that would be a really horrible feeling.

georgia said...

Thank you for restoring our faith in each other. Karma is going to love on you for a long, long time.

Anonymous said...

An elegant and chivalrous action.

Let me buy you a glass of champagne after work, today or any day you choose to cash in the marker.

Well done.


tom h said...

Jo that was wonderful what you did and I hope other people out there
would take notice.....She will never forget you for sure.....

BabsieD said...

That. Is. Awesome. Your karma score just went up by, oh, about 4 billion points.

Anonymous said...

Love your blog (and I hate to comment in general) but it's my new favorite find...what an awesome thing to do!

brown rowergirl said...

I knew you had it in you, sweetie!

and by the way, "Girl you'll be a woman soon" blows both "Cracklin' Rose" and "Shilo" outta the water!

K said...

Never let it be said that Johanna has no heart.

That was a beautiful thing you did, doll.

bow seat said...

Way to pay it forward, but I see right through you. By pointing out the stain, you broke her smug spirit and raised yourself to a new height of fashion forward dominance over all of DC. Well done.

Lola Gets said...

Good for you! It always feels great helping people.

Anonymous said...

So she wet herself??

I said...

last annonymous, i really hope you're a dude, because every girl has experienced this (or at least a close call to this) once in their life.

caphillbarbie said...

Wow, that is quite possibly the nicest thing I've ever heard of a normal person (re: not Mother Teresa) doing.

You deserve good fashion karma forever!

AnĂ³nimo No Mas said...

Jo, when you want to start giving me your clothes to help my fashion awkwardness let me know...

sarahsouth said...

this reminds me of that good deed last summer, when tomcat lent a helping hand to the couple that had been in a car accident on the side of the highway...


hannie, your life is mirroring katie holmes more than you'd ever imagine! all you need now is scientology!

I beg to differ said...

Did I just overlook it earlier or did you go back and insert the blind as Duhamel? Hilarious :)
Super nice thing to do to. good for you!

Johanna said...

Thanks for your support - and surprise :) - in my first act of graciousness in quite a long while. I was telling a friend earlier today, you'd be surprised at how quick your empathetic instincts incite you to action. I helped her, because I imagined being in that position and *not* having someone point out the obvious, help me figure out what to do, etc.

And yes, "i beg to differ," I did go back and add the Josh/Fuggie picture. I think it tied it all together nicely.

Johanna said...


You're right! Now all I need to do is re-enroll at Brown, craft a Scientology concentration, get it approved (rubber-stamp) and become a full-fledged alien level 4 master dragon, or whatever it is TomCru is.

invite me to your Edy's-sponsored block party, dammit!

Dave said...

All I can say is it's about time. You couldn't stand on the sidelines forever. There is a serious fashion problem in DC and you need to solve it one outfit at a time. We need to get you a camera crew and put it on TLC. Good on you Johanna