“I still remember that day. The air was hot and thick in such a way that my steering wheel was covered by a fine layer of dirt. The only thing I wanted to do was lay on the couch, with the air conditioner blasting, watching a movie. Maybe Mary Poppins. Or maybe even A Home of Our Own. But I had made a promise to myself. And I had to keep it.
“I grabbed the bags out of the backseat of my car and began walking to my destination. A collection of guys had assembled outside a nearby establishment. I knew what they were thinking. 'Look at her. So confident, so powerful.' They wished I were their girlfriends. Or that there girlfriends were like me. I threw my head around to toss my hair since the weather wouldn't cooperate and give me the elements I needed.
“The door flew open and that familiar 'ding' that one associates with small hometown stores rang out. Moments of my childhood flashed before my eyes. I remembered walking into little boutiques with my parents, the store owners knew our names. They would always hand me a sucker, and talk to my parents as I ran through the store hiding from my brothers and sisters beneath the racks of clothing. But this was neither that time, nor that place.
“She said, 'welcome to Plato's Closet.' And I felt welcomed. I felt so welcomed. I walked towards the girl with a smile on my face and heaved with all my might the two garbage bags stuffed to total capacity with clothing from years past. 'I'd like to sell these,' I told her. She started rummaging through the collection as I began to wonder around the store to kill the time. I seemed to float through the aisles, gently grazing all of the clothing that hung from the seemingly endless racks. The outfit of my dreams was waiting for me, at Express.
“I floated back to the counter as the girl and her boss seemed to be finishing up with my clothes. The girl looked at me. She... She looked at me and said, 'we don't want any of this.' I was shocked. Perplexed. Stunned. Was there something wrong with my LEI jeans? Were those Baby Phat boots not good enough for them? Was I not good enough for them?
“I did what I could to keep the red out of my face and make things seem as cool as they were when I came in. 'Oh no problem, you can just give them to Goodwill or whatever.' I wanted to stay in control. I didn't want to lose the last shred of dignity I had left. But they robbed me of it. 'Oh, we don't do that.'
They were telling me that not only did they not like me. But they wanted me to pick myself and get out of there.
“How could I face those guys again. I was there goddess. They held me on such a pedestal and here I was. A fallen woman. How could I summon the confidence than I held when I entered this place. This place that accepts 'gently used clothes' of all kinds. My ass. I hated them for not giving me the money I wanted. I hated them for making me carry my stuff back out. But I mainly hated them for the shame they instilled in me, and the fear, the horror, that I now felt.
“The garbage bag strings pulled on my hands. The weight of their contents seemed to mirror the weight of the world that now seemed to be on my shoulders. The plastic cut into the palms of my hands in an effort to create a new line. The three I had were fine. But maybe this day held a new plan for me. A new path that I should follow. A new...”
“Excuse me Beth, can I see you in the kitchen for a moment.”
Beth stood up and walked with Brittany Pike into the kitchen.
“What in the hell is going on in there. You're supposed to be asking for advice on what to do if your boyfriend is addicted to porn.”
“Calm down, I'm going to. I can't launch into that question when I'm asked why I won't host a yard sale." Beth starts staring into a void intensely. "I wish it was for the same reason as others. I don't like used stuff. It's too hot outside. But no..."
“Stop it! Why do you keep doing that?”
“Staring intensely at nothing whenever you talk. You look like Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice. This isn't some deep secret you've been festering over for years.”
“Yes it is! Besides, when did I do that.”
“The entire time you were telling that stupid story.”
“Take it back!”
“Ok, sorry. Just focus. We have a mission here. Get back in there.”