I wouldn’t call working in retail my strong suit. I’m lazy, I like to lean, and I don’t enjoy being barked at by middle-aged women spending their husbands’ money. One time, I accidentally put on a George Harrison song while Yoko Ono was in the store. Another time, I proudly ran over to the managers and told them “Know who’s here? Mrs. Robinson from The Graduate,” walked away feeling puffed up, and went home later that night only to find out from my mom that that actress is dead. Another time Usher barked at me to find him a pair of shoes. All of these instances tested my limits and my patience in a way nothing else could. And yet nothing prepared me for my 2 hours with Beyoncé.
It was an average weekday. I was impossibly exhausted, counting down the minutes until I could leave. I remember I felt a breeze and glanced at the door, and this is where things start to get a little hazy. One second I’m watching Bey walk in, and the next second I’ve bee-lined straight for her, and am somehow arm-in-arm, escorting her into the nearest dressing room. Within seconds of entering our store, she was sitting in the dressing room with Blue perched on her lap, tata exposed, and breast-feeding.
It’s not uncommon for retail managers to display an undue amount of self-worth and to assert egregious authority over all the sales associates. The store I worked at could have been a model for this catty managing approach. Immediately after I had gotten Beyoncé safely into the dressing room, all the managers descended on me like a flock of hawks, pushing me aside to ask Bey if she needed anything — “Coffee? Coconut water? Cunnilingus?” I was feeling great already.
It took some convincing, but eventually my closest co-worker and I were able to persuade the managers to let us stay after-hours to help Beyoncé, Solange, their two homegirls, and Blue.
Beyoncé is as ravishing in person as she is on stage — she literally exists with a halo (halo…halo…). And her feet; my god, her feet! To say I worked to keep my cool would be putting it lightly. When Bey and Solange had picked out all of the clothes they liked, we went to the top floor of the store so they could try them on. It had only been a couple months since Bey had Blue and I’m assuming that’s why she didn’t try anything on at the store, but instead bought all of the items and tried them on at home. That, or she’s just a plain G. And so it was, that as Solange was giving us all a fashion show, Bey slipped off her shoes to get a bit more comfortable. And it took all of my self-restraint to not fall onto my knees and start kissing her toes right there and then; I had never seen prettier and softer-looking feet in my life. Nothing short of what you’d expect, I’m sure, but worth mentioning nonetheless. We put on some UGK, and as Beyoncé was holding Blue, dancing barefoot and rapping along I couldn’t help but think: she truly is the best thing I never had, nor probably will ever have, if I’m going to be honest.
In person, Beyoncé is much more Southern and timid than you’d expect. It was actually Solange who couldn’t stop running her mouth. Solo tried on this orange and green matching Kenzo top and skirt, a lime green Carven romper, and these tie-dye Robert Clergerie sandals (she bought them all). Up until this point, I hadn’t really said anything. They seemed to know a lot about fashion — Solange especially — and I didn’t want to come off as an annoying fan girl. Yet in an effort to seem chill, it seems I had just gone entirely mute. So I offered up some compliments to Solange, something like, “Looks fantastic on you.” To which she said, “Yeah, but everyone always says I look good in everything, so I’m starting to feel like someone must be lying.” I feigned laughter. Then I went to the back to cry. I tried to calm myself down, summoning Beyoncé’s wisdom: “Some call it arrogance, I call it confidence…”
Meanwhile, my coworker — a tad more talkative than I — convinced Beyoncé to try on just one item, this beautiful Mary Katrantzou jacket, which she adored.
But perhaps most memorable of all was Blue. Part of me thought, “If I could JUST win over Blue. That should be easy enough.” I was naïve; frankly I don’t know what I was thinking. Looking into Blue’s eyes, I felt like Demi Moore in Ghost — I was literally touched by an angel. I offered up a funny face, she scoffed at me, and another Beyoncé line came to mind: “Oh you must not know ‘bout me, you must not know ‘bout me…”
In my mind, my eve with Beyoncé, Solange and Blue exists in fragments, like short stories or webisodes. I recall at one point swimming through the Junior Gaultier back stock, sweating and cursing myself to hell because I couldn’t find the leather bomber jacket in a size 7 months. I remember eventually finding it, and Bey not buying it. And I remember headbands — lots and lots of Maison Michel headbands, some with cat ears and some with bows, that they bought for Blue, all around $500 – $1300 each.
When things started winding down, the store owners showed up and personally gifted Bey and Solange a couple $200 key chains; y’know, things like that. Solange and Beyoncé didn’t take their bags with them — no, we would deliver them to their respective homes later — and went straight out for dinner and partying with the store owners. In total, they spent around 10 grand. Beyoncé said bye to us, but it was a notably hollow goodbye. By that point we were forgotten, just two grains of sand in a sandbox, rendered obsolete. And as they disappeared through the doors from whence they came, I sang to myself, “I know you don’t care too much, but I still care…” and whispered goodbye.
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