Men Women Alterations
by Wanda C.
I might have been going to the little dry cleaners for more than a year before the oddness of their sign really struck me. "Men Women Alterations" it said. I first noticed it as I went in to drop off some clothes late on a Thursday afternoon
The proprietors were Asian immigrants, tiny people with big smiles. I liked them though I didn't always understand what they were saying. I needed four or five shirts done a week though, and pants and sometimes a jacket or coat, so I got to know them pretty well.
Well enough that I thought I could voice a small complaint and not offend them. "Good afternoon, Rose," I said. The woman's name meant 'Rose' in English and that was what she had chosen to be called.
I put the clothes down on the counter and Rose quickly counted them "One, two, t'ree, fo', shirt. One pair pants." Teh shirts were Oxford broadcloth in various pale colors, the pants were navy slacks of heavy cotton. She smiled at me, my order varied only a little from week to week and they always had everything ready for me on Saturday afternoon.
I pulled another shirt up, "This one came back with a little stain, last time, Rose." I showed her the discoloration on the pale blue oxford cloth. A stain it had not had when I took it to the shop last Thursday.
"Oh," she said mournfully. "I fix, no charge," she snagged the shirt quickly, made a note on my order and put a special tag on the shirt, smiling all the while.
I felt relieved. That had been positively painless. I knew that sometimes there could be big arguments with dry cleaners, it had happened to me before I had found this nice couple with the small shop right in my neighborhood. "Thank you, Rose."
"No problem, Mister C. You good customer, you say we make stain, we get it out for you," she smiled again. Sometimes the shop was so busy she had hardly time for a word but I'd been in often enough that I knew she liked to talk when she had the time. "We do whatever you need. We want keep your business."
I smiled and pointed at the sign in the window. "You do alterations?" I asked. Just making conversation, I had actually seen Rose's husband back in the back working at a sewing machine on several occasions.
"Yeah?" she said.
"That would be some trick," I said. "Quite an alteration, Men to Women."
She laughed and nodded. "Oh, yeah. That is best one we do!"
I laughed too, delighted that she had gotten the joke I was making. "Well, you just be careful with my clothes, okay?"
She nodded again, almost a bowing of her head. "You like? What we do?"
"I always have, I assume I always will," I told her.
Still nodding, still smiling, she made another note on my ticket before I left.
I picked the clothes up on Saturday afternoon as usual and hung them in the back of my little closet in my one room apartment. I didn't need them until Wednesday and left them still in the plastic bag until I did need them. My little method for being sure I rotated my wardrobe.
Wednesday morning I was out of clean Oxford shirts, except for one slightly threadbare one I kept for emergencies. I opened the dry cleaners bag and took out what I thought was one of my regular shirts. I guess I had slipped the little tailored blouse on before I noticed.
On Thursday, I made my regular trip to the dry cleaners after work with an extra large bag of garments. I swung the heavy load onto the counter and Rose quickly counted it and made notations. I smiled all the while and so did she.
"You have big load this week!" she said, mock complaining.
"Yes, and I want you to give them your best. Work your spells on them, Rose. That's all the rest of my wardrobe and it has to be made right by Saturday afternoon."
"We fix," she said confidently. "You like? What we do?"
"Yes, very much," I told her.
"Okay, Miss C." Rose beamed and nodded her almost bows as I turned smartly and walked out of the Neighborhood Magic Dry Cleaners in my pink Oxford broadcloth blouse and my navy skirt. By Saturday, all of my clothes would be altered to fit my new feminine shape.
I thought of that old cliche, 'Clothes Make the Man' and giggled. "Or woman."
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