So what do you think? Did I get a Carla?
First I’ll tell you the story.
The weekend had been set aside for a girls’ weekend with Jen, Jools and Nic, my uni girlfriends, for which over twenty five years and who knows how many kilometres are wiped away like our anatomy lecturer’s overhead projector scratchings (Hi Dr.Chandaraj if you are still around. You were amazing, but I never was able to read your writing.) whenever we get in a room together. Corona and border closures had other ideas, so we added a dash of hope and postponed it ’til later in the year, crossing our fingers more tightly than our pelvic floors when the first bars of ‘Holiday’ blast out. Please let dance floors and karaoke bars and dancing around handbags still be a thing when the virus slopes off to become merely endemic. We can hope.
So I made plans with the girls I am allowed to play with (Mum and daughter) to shop and eat and shop some more in the little smoke known as Brisvegas by mostly no-one other than old people like Nath and I who like to 1. Annoy our kids 2. Think we are a bit funny.
First stop was supposed to be Zara, followed by H&M, Seed and then lunch, but somehow we ended up at Carla Zampatti. Shock. We went for a ‘quick look’ which ended up with me being suitably fawned on by the excellent ladies there, helping with sizing, squeezing, and little squees as they fussed and fluffed and just generally made an old bird feel like her time for a Carla had finally come.
I narrowed it down to two: one much too hot for October in Queensland, but comfortable AF and extremely flattering, and one a bit more directional (and cleverly called “Homage to Carla” talk about tugging the story-strings), and not quite as sexy..but with POCKETS. What to do? Caught between fashion and function, yet again, and with price tags that didn’t allow for both. I decided to ‘eat on it’, and the lovlies said they would hold both of them for me. They were seasoned enough to know what, “I’m now picturing myself with make-up and proper shoes and my husband’s eyes on the night,” looks like- they knew I’d be back.
Over lunch and reflecting on the pros and cons of buying something that looks great, but will wind up being a velvet version of a sous vide* or, something less
sassy sweaty and more classy, I got a call from Carla’s Angels: someone else wanted the second one. Did I want it? The seconds passed. Did I?
I’ve secretly wanted a Carla for years. I know this one looks good and I finally have somewhere to wear it, in fact once outfit the cards were on the table, I quickly invented three more places to wear it. Did I want it? Did I mention it’s called Homage to Carla?
Of course I did. I told them I’d be there shortly, but I understood if they wanted to sell it to the decisive lady in front of them. They declined. Carla was mine.
Of course when we got to the store the ladies were as lovely as ever, and I thanked them for keeping their promise to hold (what was soon to be) MY Carla. But it all felt a bit off. Some of the shine was taken off the purchase, in knowing that me getting this piece meant someone else missed out. You’ve probably seen the videos; the ones where the marathon runner is about to cross the line in second place and the person in front of them collapses, and rather than running on by, they pick them up so they can cross the line together. I love those videos and I bloody love a good win-win. It’s unlikely that I’m ever running a marathon, so this was my chance. I got the ladies to put the search out for another Carla, just like ‘mine’. Yes there was another, they said, but it wouldn’t work for the other lady, as she needed to have alterations done, and the times wouldn’t match up. She would have to miss out.
What to do, what to do? Should I give up what was fast becoming my beloved third child to bring another woman joy? Should I just shelve my Carla-owning dreams and buy something more sensible? Should I get the velvet sauna after all?
In my endorphin-fuelled almost-purchasing inner monologue I’d forgotten one thing: I didn’t need the damn thing for months. I could just drive back to Briso and pick it up another day. Facepalm. I told this to the Angels, and they quickly agreed to an even better plan: through the magic of Australia Post they would simply ship it to me. Amazing. Technology, ‘eh? I was laughing to myself as we completed my purchase and they called the other lady (who I’m pretty sure did a little squeal when they said she could come and get HER Carla), at how when we open our minds to the win-win we can almost always find a way. Sure it felt a bit weird and kind of sad to spend a whole bunch of bucks on an outfit that I couldn’t immediately go back home and try on (which is what I always do with new clothes), and sure it gave me waaaay more time to have buyer’s remorse, but there was something fun about how it all turned out. A kind of fashion solidarity that could be vapid or bullshit or nothing at all, depending on your view. But I like to think that story is important.
I know the brand of Carla Zampatti was forged through passion and tenacity and a desire to make women feel beautiful. I also know that things don’t have any inherent meaning, it’s just the meaning we bring to them. My Carla will arrive soon, and I will have some material with a meaning. Something that reminds me of what strong women can do when they put their heart into a project. Something that reminds me that finding ways to support each other rather than compete will always feel better. And I will be glad that even though I might look not-quite-as-hot as I could have, I will for once have chosen something that fits the function required.
I can’t promise the same thing for my shoes though.
* The process of vacuum-sealing food in a bag, then cooking it to a very precise temperature in a water bath. I hear it’s delicious. Not sure if it is recommended for fifty year old women.
Do you care about brands? Do you have a timeless item with a story? Do you have a Carla yet?
…From The Ashers…