Saturday, December 11, 2010

Relationships outside of the catalogue

I'm sitting in a J Crew.  No, I'm not sitting.  I'm standing in the middle of the cashmere sweater aisle.  The waif behind the register is staring at navy blue ties with gold boat anchors.  My heart/mind is racing.  I'm going to see HIM in 10 minutes.  

I'm standing in the J Crew because I'm the preppiest former new englander living in Los Angeles.  I'm the cardigan twin set.  I'm the pearl earrings.  I like the order and calm that comes with a matching set and the promise of tennis in the afternoon with a boy from New Haven.  But no.  I'm living in Los Angeles on the beach and my date tonight is with my married ex boyfriend.  That's not true.  Well the married part is.  But I don't know if you can call him an ex boyfriend?  He was married when I met him.  There is no label for what we had.  There is no standard placement in the store for the outfit that was our relationship.  We were not summer wear; we were not evening glamour - we were hidden in the back dressing room.  Away from public.  Underground.  We were not ready made catalogue material.  

I don't know where he is right now.  He's not J Crew.  He's Ferrari.  He's Porsche.  I don't know if the fact that I can't think of a clothing store that defines him means something or nothing at all.  I don't know if he's as nervous to see me 6 months after the undefinable as I am or if he's succumb to the neatly prescribed Orange County married life. There is, of course,  an option for mid life crises affairs in that lifestyle.  But that option comes with more sex and less emotional connection than he and I had.  

Of course my first worry this moment is about what I'm wearing and what I look like.  As if that would ever be his first concern.  There isn't a cocktail dress in the world that will change any of the realities.  He's married.  He was my boss.  He's 20 years older than me  

J Crew does not promote relationships that are outside of the pre-determined seasonal collection.  There's winter boyfriend.  Summer boyfriend.   Fall boyfriend.   Summer boyfriend is my favorite.  He puts sun tan lotion and a six pack of beer into your pink beach tote.  And ironically his greatest asset is his six pack.  Fall boyfriend is the most serious because there's a chance you met him at university.  You can take your time with fall boyfriend - there is no pressure to rush into sex.  Winter boyfriend has the best cable knit sweaters and most eclectic itunes collection.   Spring boyfriend kisses you in the rain underneath a madras umbrella.  Spring boyfriend break ups are the most amicable.  Mainly because of the ease of transition from spring to summer clothing.

The J. Crew catalogue ends where real life begins.  Real life is a young woman in a flattering purple dress panicking in a well known retailer.  Wondering if there is any meaning at all to a relationship where there is no answer to the question "was he your lover?"


  1. Brilliant. I really like the way you decided to end it.

  2. I smiled when I stopped reading this and realized I didn't want it to end. Nice work Jen. I could visualize it all. And brilliantly compared to one of the most common place pieces of literature- a fashion magazine, where yes, we all dream of being "them" for just a day. Your interpretation of the season of bf's is so honest and eloquently depicted. I almost cried but didnt since this isnt sad. Its just good writing :-)

  3. I found this through 20sb. This is a great depiction!

  4. I just clicked on you from 2osb too. I like this post a what happened?