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She prayed it would be a particularly slow day in the shop. Drinks the night before turned into a 2 a.m. bedtime prefaced with pizza and an unreturned text to a Bumble match she’d been going back and forth with for the better part of a week. It wasn’t often she hoped for a slow day, but on this particular morning, she prayed for the dog days of summer to bring in fewer customers than normal.
With her hangover and a hint of a buzz in tow, she lumbered toward the front of the shop and hung up the “OPEN” sign before connecting her phone to their speakers and putting on the store’s “summer vibes” playlist.
When she finally sat back down behind the register, she texted her friend, Sarah, “Ughhhhhhh, why did we stay out so late last night?” Sarah was undoubtedly still in bed licking the wounds from the night before. Without getting a response, she sent an almost-immediate follow-up text — “Will you bring me lunch today?” Again, no response.
It wasn’t until thirty minutes after they opened that the first customers came to the door. “Fuck,” she muttered under her breath. “Well, here we go.”
What she saw was worst case scenario. Her hopes for the day were that she’d see a few people returning their ugly bridesmaid dresses or that she’d help one, maybe two, brides-to-be. Instead, the group that came to the door was the exact scenario she dreaded — two girls, dressed identically in all Lululemon with sunglasses on that nearly covered the entirety of their faces.
Her attempt to greet them was thwarted by the first asking if she was allowed to “bring iced coffee in here.”
“Yeah, of course,” she replied. “Is there anything I can hel—”
“OH MY GEE,” the second girl screeched. The sheer volume and tone of her voice nearly shattered the windows in the front of the store. “I love this.”
She could see their wet hands touching the fabric of the dress but, as it goes, she was too hungover to say anything to them. Her hope was that they’d poke around, ask a few questions, and then go off to the brunch that she wished she was partaking in.
“Ugh, Caroline,” the first girl said, “I dunno, that looks like the dress that Meghan Markle wore and TBH, that was like so embarrassing for America because she looked pretty frumpy. I think I’m going to go for more of a classic Kate Middleton look.”
“Goddammit,” she thought while they continued to rifle through the dresses with their coffees still in hand. “Do you two ladies want to set your coffees up here on the counter?” she finally asked passive-aggressively hoping that they’d opt to throw them out.
“No, um,” Caroline responded, “… I think we’re okay just holding them?” She looked over and laughed mockingly while feeling slightly offended.
In an attempt to lighten the mood, she finally left her post behind the computer and made her way to the salesfloor. “So,” she hesitated, “I assume you’re the bride?”
With her sunglasses still on and her hair in a purposely messy top bun, she slowly removed her Celines from her face and paused before responding, “I am” without making eye contact.
“Well congratulations,” she half-heartedly extended to her. “If there’s absolutely anything you need, please just let me know and I can help you out.”
Again, without making eye contact, she turned to Caroline and said, “C, come here and look at this one. Does this look too much like Katie’s?”
“IDK,” Caroline said while looking down at her phone. “Let me pull up her Insta and see.”
Awkwardly standing in the middle of the store, the sales associate decided to slink back to the point of sale to resume her hungover position. She pretended to enter notes in the computer regarding other orders, but in reality, she was scrolling the desktop version of Instagram.
“I mean, it kiiiiiiiiind of looks like Katie’s,” Caroline clarified.
“Yeah, no,” she responded, “not doing this one then. Wait, is Katie meeting us here or is she meeting us at brunch?”
“I just told her to come here,” Caroline told her. “But, like, she’ll probs be late and have to meet us there. She said she’s coming straight from her manny place which is like fifty freaking blocks away.”
Moving down the racks slowly, she looked up and down carefully at every single dress they had. Never taking any off the rack, she hesitated grabbing the dresses because it seemed to make things too real. She wasn’t ready to try one on; wasn’t ready to get fitted. “I just feel bloated today, honestly,” she told Caroline that morning before they met up.
It was after ten minutes of silent shopping that the sales girl finally had a lightbulb turn on in her otherwise foggy brain. Walking to the small refrigerator in the store’s back area, she popped out with a slight smile on her face.
“I know it’s 10:30 in the morning,” she said coyly as she approached the girls, “but can anyone go for a little champagne?”
Caroline looked over to the bride-to-be and smiled.
“I meannnnnnnn,” they both drew out with naughty smiles on their face. “I’m not saying no…”
With a slight hesitation, she looked first at the sales girl and second at Caroline only to say, “But it’s not like prosecco bullshit, is it? I’m a little hangskies and need something nicer.”
Wanting to roll her eyes but also wanting to sell a $2,500 wedding dress, she thought for a moment and responded, “Let me check if the owner has any Taittinger or Veuve in the back, one sec.”
“Well today just took a nice little turn, huh, Caroline?” she whispered. “Maybe we should tell Katie to meet us here since we might be a while.”
Emerging from the back, the sales girl had two half-bottles of Veuve that had been chilling in their employee refrigerator. It was reserved for special occasions only, but she figured she could tell her boss that the customers looked like they wanted to spend. Because, well, they did.
“You know what?” Caroline asked rhetorically as the first bottle was popped, “I like you. What’s your name?”
“Penelope,” the salesperson responded. She was either blushing or flushed from her hangover, but flattered nonetheless.
“Well nice to meet you, Penelope,” she said with an overly-polite tone. “I think we could have some fun shopping with you.” .