Open mouth and insert foot.
"You have a way of getting to the center of an argument no one wants to fight about," my Grandmother Iva used to tell me after I would find my foot in my mouth. "You sure can spark a lively conversation."
In a recent column I wrote about the nightmare of the fashion industry and how difficult it can be for women to go shopping for clothes. Little did I know how big a firestorm of controversy I was igniting?
But, as other victims began to step forward, I soon realized the terror of the fashion industry affects all age groups, and I admit to being shocked to learn this, even men.
Soon after arriving at my desk Monday, an anonymous woman called me. Although she had a delightful voice, I was waiting for her complaint. (I love this job, but compliments are a tad rare at times.)
"I've never called the paper before about a story, but your column in today's paper really got to me," she said. "I couldn't agree with you more."
She went on to explain that she too was a victim, but for different reasons. A sprightly 70-year-old, she told me how difficult it is to find appropriate clothing she would like to wear that wasn't too heavy.
"I looked at a sweater while shopping the other day that I couldn't even pick up, little lone wear," she said. "You think it's hard to find clothes now at your age, just wait till your mine."
We also agreed that belly shirts were definitely not for us before our conversation ended.
I was excited, but had no expectation of further reader feedback. Soon, I realized I opened the proverbial can of worms.
While paying for a bottle of pop at a local gas station, I was approached again. This time, by a man.
"It's not all that easy to find clothes for some guys," an extremely tall man said while looking down at me. "Do you know how hard it is to find pants to fit someone my size?"
With a kink in my neck, I couldn't help but agree with the man's plight.
Another man standing in line told me how hard it was for him to find shoes.
As the day wore on, I was surprised to find myself involved in fashion discussions with some local firefighters, a few government officials and several co-workers before I went home Monday evening.
Thinking the entire hubbub was over; a woman approached me about her daughter.
"She's got curves," this tormented mother confessed. "God sort of blessed her, if you know what I mean, and the little girl style clothes are not intended for her body style."
I've got a daughter with the same affliction, so I understood her misery.
Six more people stopped me to share their clothing nightmares before I left work.
Expecting people to forget about the column, I was soon proven wrong as more and more people approached me with their fashion woes.
"I can't find a bra that fits," a woman said to the shock of her teenage son standing at her side. "It's so frustrating, I'm about ready to buy duct tape."
With a little prodding from his mother, the boy to quickly complained about underwear.
"They always ride up or fall down," he said, his face turning at least three colors of red. "The elastic sucks."
When I told him my son suffered his dilemma and recently chose to switch to boxers, he appeared relieved to not be alone anymore.
And so the admissions of being exploited by the fashion industry continued throughout the week. It seemed that everyone I bumped into while about town had something to say.
I heard complaints about the cost of clothing versus the quality of what is available to purchase.
Teenagers complained how there is no room for individuality when selecting clothes on limited budgets, while one really frustrated parent wanted to know, "Why do I have to pay $80 to buy a pair of blue jeans that look like they've been put through a wood chipper?"
Parents complained about fashion looks for preteen girls that would cause New York prostitutes to be ashamed. They also wanted to know whose idea it was to create baggy pants for boys that hang at their knees instead of their waist.
Women complained about how socks and pantyhose don't fit.
Men complained about how big and tall clothing shops can't figure out how to design clothes for a hefty man who happens to be tall.
Some elderly people complained about small buttonholes and large clunky buttons, while others complained about zippers that break after only a few uses.
There was a common thread throughout all the discussions, the victims seemed relieved to tell someone about their frustrations.
I can't help but remember a beloved fairy tale.
Caring too much about clothes, a self-involved emperor hires two swindlers.
They quickly promise him the finest suit of clothes from the most beautiful cloth in the world. But there is a catch, it is invisible to anyone who was either stupid or not fit for his position.
Nervous about being stupid or inadequate, he sends his advisors to view the suit.
Although they see nothing, they are afraid of the emperor, so (you guessed it) they praise the beauty and perfection of the cloth.
This leads to the Emperor being dressed in their creation and taken for a procession through town where a small child cries out the emperor is au natural and the crowd begins laughing.
As the fairy tale continues, the Emperor holds his head high throughout the procession as the townsfolk laugh at him, for he knows he's better than they are and his clothes show it.
Now most of us think we would be the one to shout out, "Hey, you're naked," but I don't think so.
To be that brave, we'd have to be able to fight back.
I wonder if there's anyone out there willing to march into a fashion revolution?