Fred pours a libation - the story of a stalker

travel posts interrupted, to bring you a bulletin from our shopping consultant and menu advisor.
Living on Manhattan's Upper East Side, I am forced - forced! - to pass one store after another even before I cross the street of a morning. No matter how virtuous my destination, be it exercise, volunteer commitment, drudgery-amid-the-self-importantly-unappreciative (formerly known as laboring in the vineyards, but I suspect that will be the next term to be politically incorrect and I'm nothing if not ahead of the times) -- where was I? Oh, yes, lost between shop windows and a failing grade in creative punctuation. So, OK, why would someone who passes over a hundred stores every day, uses department stores as a dry shortcut when it rains, and daily sorts through a paper avalanche of sample sale, close-out sale, F&F sale, holiday sale notices and invitations, why would I, in fact, bother to rise before dawn to check computers to see if a particular item has become available?
Short answer: Beats me.
Discussion: Store fitting rooms are the last place to be cleaned, these days are often not cleaned at all. More and more stores are ordering fewer and fewer of each item ("There was a size 6 a coupla days ago, somebody must'a bought it" sound familiar?). I would like to say that my work life has taught me that if I am to expect others to place a high value on my time, first I must value it myself, but all too often what this comes down to is that life is full of unavoidable time-wasters, and therefore I am very selective about the time-wasters I can choose to avoid. First on that list: standing on line to hand over my money. Or maybe it's tied with adding verbs to the sentence fragments produced by expensively educated geniuses whose proud parents have had to defer planned retirement because they guaranteed eight years' worth of student loans?

One day I had to have A Shirt.

Being unable to throw out clothes is a tragic family trait, so not only have I bought and held on to many shirts that fit, but if shoulder pads ever return, I'll be ready with many, soooo many shirts that my revered elders bought. Still, This Shirt spoke to me. "You want me," it said, in the persuasive tones of one whose next statement will include something about continuing respectful feelings. "Come on," it crooned from the shelf.

On my way home later, I decided a little visit wouldn't hurt. My Shirt was gone, and none of the store personnel knew what I was talking about. One salesperson was particularly insistent that I had hallucinated, which I was almost ready to believe, until she led me to a computer, where My Shirt came up on a search. There was one size OO. Fortunately there was also a SKU, which I modestly copied down. This particular store claims to be able to track down items in many ways, and I tried all of them. Repeatedly.
I searched the store's website, on rising, before sleep, on the bus, while rolling calls, on another screen while checking someone's preposterous conclusions. I avoided lunch in favor of hunting. I mapped the US and called stores by location. once I found it on my iphone and it vanished before the order was processed. The SKU became a keyboard shortcut (SH for SHIRT. Or SHAMELESS.) Some of the more promising/helpful stores became a speed dial category (SH).
Eventually, persistence paid off. Sort of. After two brief, fluttery appearances on the website that didn't last long enough to place an order, I was able to order My Shirt. The order went through, but only long enough to generate an email bearing the Dreaded Otiose Apology. No other merchant tries to turn lack of operational skills and inability to understand customer demand into a positive personality trait with such cheerful energy, as if you didn't really want what you ordered and the same people who couldn't produce what you really wanted would now be able to satisfy you with something you would have ordered in the first place if you wanted it.

Persistence turned into a series of dull, repetitive, indeed Pavlovian responses: see computer, check for My Shirt. See iPhone, check for My Shirt. Sit down at desk, check for My Shirt. Leave for meeting, but first check for My Shirt.
Then, in a deserved confluence of events, My Shirt appeared only seconds before a site-wide promotion. Truly. The code promo appeared on the iphone as I was placing the order on computer. I entered the code, and it worked. I got a confirmation email. In minutes, not only had My Shirt disappeared, but the SKU drew a blank, all references to My Shirt on Google led to a filler page on the website, and My Shirt had been well and truly hidden. Was it ever there at all? My account showed it as "Releasable," which translates to "Her credit card still works so we can ship it if we ever find it." A few days later, my account showed My Shirt as waitlisted, expected to ship some 90 days later. Huh. We know what that means. The Pavlovian activity continued, just in case. I admit, with blushes, that I ultimately placed more than 7 orders - each time I caught a glimpse, however brief, of My Shirt. These orders drew a variety of insincere responses. However, three actually made it to the waitlist.

As  the waitlist's last day approached, I resigned myself to never having My Shirt. Not just to never having it while fresh and new and seasonal, to never having it at all. I thought about pouring libations to Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt. Or a libation, since Himself is rather protective of the good stuff, and a libation in a lesser liquid would be inappropriate.
More emails - all of the orders shipped! When (if?) they arrive, I will promptly return all but one, because I'm sure others are out there wondering if their shirt will come.
And once My Shirt is safely in my closet, I'll start work on not looking for it on the website/in the stores. Really I will.


  1. Too funny! I ordered this shirt (albeit in a size 6) and returned it as in the end, didn't quite fit with my image and I forgot I hate button down shirts! :-) But I love the print!

    I am still searching for the giverny skirt in a 6 or 8 - I feel like Sir Galahad and I am sure it will never come to pass...

    1. I stalked the giverny skirt for 15 months. Just about the time I came to the conclusion it was not to be, a small miracle happened and I found one!

  2. Oh... this is the story of me and my Valentina pumps in bright coral... sigh. I understand - I'm living it :)

  3. I hope you like it when it finally arrives!
    I like the description of your day becoming a series of moments related to looking for your shirt. I felt the desperation!

  4. hi, WMM! isn't it amazing how a glimpse of an object can dull the capacity for rational thought?

  5. hi, Mack, hmm, bright coral pumps, huh? I understand, I really do.

  6. hi, Dani, I'm still wondering why I think inanimate objects can speak to me so compellingly.

  7. I truly sympathise. I'm patiently waiting for a certain jacket on MW dot com to go on sale. Tried it on in store at FP, liked it but not enough to fork over that many bucks, now hoping MW ordered enough Mediums to last till it hits sale. And yes, I check at least twice a day to make sure it's still there.

  8. WFF - I almost asked where the 00 was to be found! I've been there and done that much too many times. And still there ...

  9. When I saw the post about your pilgrimage to Liberty, I wondered if you were going to discover that print in store, which would, of course, have had me on the next train to London.

  10. Hi, Closet Crisis, I too visit things that I like, things I like but not at that price, things I might like but not if there are so many around that if I bought it I'd look like it was "issued" to me by the Great Quartermaster in Dongguan City. This from one who only checks Facebook if Little Sister calls and reports that there are new baby pictures up from J...J....

  11. Hi, Kikki Cee, when I finish putting up the travel posts, I plan to put up a comparison of a real Liberty shirt from Liberty's, a Liberty shirt from Target, and My Shirt, if it is in fact in any of the packages I'm waiting for. That last nightmare only just occurred to me - what if they ship the wrong thing?

  12. Hi, TiffanyRose! The 00 was in the Madison Ave/45th Street store, but only for a minute in February. If you get to NYC, by the way, that store is not the most glamourous of all the JC's, but it's surprisingly well stocked and has very helpful staff.

  13. Hilarious and totally reasonable. This happened to me with a pair of shoes from Brooks Brothers. They kept selling out and popping back in different sizes so I ended up with 4 pairs in two different colors and 3 different but very close sizes. So happy to have them though. I'd do it again tomorrow and probably will.

  14. Hi, xoxo, glad to hear from a fellow sufferer of the Condition That Will Not Speak Its Name (for fear of jinxing the search)!

  15. WFF - my Margaret Annie finally showed up last week. I NEVER pay full price but I ordered it during the 20% off promo and it was backordered. L-O-V-E. The print just makes me happy. I have my fingers crossed that your shirt shows up very soon. So glad to know there are other crazies (crewsies?) like me stalking J Crew. My family & friends think I am goofy beyond belief.

  16. Thanks, shopalot! Im hoping that least one package will hold My Shirt and that I'll love mine as much as you love yours.

  17. Hi wellfedfred, wondering if you ever received your shirt?

  18. Hi, Cleo, thanks for asking! I actually received more than one. Many more. The story of how I had to go on the world's most embarrassing "returning" expeditions is for another post, which is in the works. I promise.


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