Outlet mal*

*That’s not a typo.

So I made it through another week, mostly by going to bed before nine, and as we were having breakfast this morning, my partner asked what my plans were for the day. I shrugged noncommittally.

“You mentioned earlier in the week that you wanted to buy some sweatpants and shoes…” she reminded.

This was true. Actually, I’d been complaining that I had to throw out two of my bleach stained, pilled, holey sweatpants earlier in the week and was left with a single pair of yoga pants with big runs in the legs, but I think I’d sort of expected the clothing fairies to magic some replacements into my closet rather than actually shopping. And the shoe thing was because of the foot pain my new exercise regimen had brought on, but I wasn’t actually really sure new shoes would fix the problem. I had, at least, done a bit of research, and thought going and trying on some shoes rather than just blindly ordering them off the Internet (my usual preference) was a good start, but faced with the actual prospect of doing it, I was waffling.

My partner mentioned that the outlet mall that had opened up a half hour away from us had a Hanes store, where I could probably find some sweatpants, and would most likely have several shoe stores. Actually, in the course of the above-mentioned ‘research’ I had discovered that there was an Asics store there, so that was a point in favor of venturing to the outlet mall, since we should be able to accomplish both tasks in one place. And there was a new Thai restaurant nearby we’d been wanting to try. I only had a vague idea of what an ‘outlet mall’ actually was, and am not a big fan of malls in general, but I figured it wouldn’t kill me, so off we went.

The mall in question used to be a regular sort of mall, that went bankrupt and re-opened as an outlet mall. What I didn’t realize until we got there was that they pretty much bulldozed it and rebuilt it as a collection of buildings with outdoor entrances to each store, which would have been more pleasant if it wasn’t cold, dark, and drizzling. The gloomy day had me feeling shut down and foggy, and the prospect of walking into several actual stores where I’d have to interact with actual sales people had me rapidly regretting ever mentioning shopping for clothes.

First stop was the Asics store. I politely declined help when each of the two clerks offered, then eventually had to admit that really I actually did need help. I sucked it up and went to the first one who had tried to help me and asked if she could assist with figuring out which shoes were the best for underpronation, heavy heel strike, and stability support for ‘sort of a foot thing that makes all the joints loose’ as I wasn’t really prepared to try and explain hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in a shoe store.

She actually was pretty helpful, and narrowed it down to two shoes. The cheaper one felt more ‘right’ to me, but I was basing that on it being really firm, which might not be the best thing after thirty minutes of hard walking. The more expensive one had softer cushioning. In the end, I decided on neither one, because I am stupidly picky and they didn’t have solid black. Also because I hate spending money. I figured that at least I had narrowed it down to two shoes, and I could look on Amazon or the Asics online store and finish my shoe shopping from the safety of my keyboard at home.

My partner suggested the Nike store but I didn’t want to go out of my little narrow world of Asics and I was feeling kind of overwhelmed. She also pointed out the Hanes store, and I obstinately countered that it looked like it was mostly underwear and girly clothes. I was surrounded with dozens of stores and hundreds of people and there was mall music and it was raining and dark and windy and I was really thinking this had been a bad idea.

“Well, where do you want to go next, then?”

“Uh…would you be completely pissed off at me if I just wanted to go home?”

“If that’s what you want to do. But do you mind if we just stop in the Hanes store real quick? I want to look for a sweat shirt.”

We go into the Hanes store and she immediately points out a rack with mens’ Champion sweatpants in the exact style she knows I like. Slightly irked by the realization that I have been cleverly manipulated, I can’t really complain because now I have two nice new grey pairs of pants, and the bar code from the tag I can use to to look for a black pair online. She got a sweatshirt and several other things, and everything we got was 40-75% off, so it was a worthwhile stop.

Since she’d gotten me feeling less stressed, she managed to encourage me to take a look in the New Balance store. I didn’t try my evasive clerk-deflection maneuvers this time; I figured the quickest way to get it over with was to explain what I was looking for to the first person that approached – though in retrospect, I feel bad for wasting her time. She showed me several pairs of shoes… all of the ones I tried on I rejected because they ‘felt wrong’ and several I wouldn’t even try on because they were ‘too bright’. After I was unable to really clearly explain what I meant by ‘wrong’ she asked if I minded if she sized my feet, to double check we were looking at the right size.

“That’s interesting,” she commented after having me put each foot in the sizer thingie, “your left foot is pretty much a whole size smaller than your right foot. Also, one arch is way flatter than the other.”

“That’s probably why that foot is longer – it’s more spread out,” I suggested.

“Well, that’s the odd thing, you’d think that would be the reason, but the smaller foot is actually the flatter one.”

In the end, I apologized for putting her through so much trouble, and said that maybe I’d look into having my feet checked out before buying any shoes. That was sort of an attempt to leave without entirely looking like a time-wasting jerk, but I probably do need to do that; from the research that I did do beforehand, I learned that I probably need to have my feet evaluated for being fitted for orthotics. Incidentally, the foot she said was flatter is the one that hurts so bad right now.

The Thai food was really good, at least! And it’s nice to have some workout pants that don’t look like I pulled them out of a trash can.

Featured Image: Pair of feet resting against a wooden trunk with black sneakers, blacks socks, and the bottoms of a pair of black jeans visible. Filter is ‘carmine’ and a thin black border had been applied.

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