Someone once asked me what I thought hell would be like (I guess he had some premonition about my final destination). I informed him I grew up with six sisters, and at one time or another, I have shopped for clothes with each of them. So, yes, I believe I have a fair idea of what hell is like.
In my mind, hell is a never-ending shopping mall packed full with women’s clothing boutiques and the occasional nail salon. The only interesting store — Victoria’s Secret — is eternally just around the next corner. If you are one of the unfortunates assigned to this damnation, you must continually watch your sisters emerge from a dressing room wearing some sort of apparel that the male gender could care less about. And what they’re wearing looks like the same outfit they had on when they stepped into the dressing room: two sleeves, some buttons, a hole for the head to pop through, etc.
It gets worse. The sisters then ask your opinion about the apparel. “It’s fine,” is the most eloquent answer you can come up with after searching your soul for any reason to have an “opinion” on a piece of plant fiber constructed in such a way as to cover someone’s nakedness.
Well, women simply don’t comprehend the deep thought and careful consideration — like checking the price tag and wondering if it would be easier to shave the dog and weave your own body coverings at less expense — that goes into the phrase “It’s fine.” Not thinking you’ve already hit the depth of your caring, your sister pushes your meditations to the furthest reaches of human understanding. She asks you the one unanswerable question in the universe: “Does this make me look fat?”
You can’t answer that. Oh, sure, you may choose to answer it truthfully: “What do you mean ‘look’?,” but then you will experience a much lower level of hell — one that ‘tis best not to contemplate in this fragile mortal life. And, sure, you can lie: “Oh, no way! Those wide horizontal stripes actually have a magical thinning effect.” But that won’t work either because women — all women — know when you’re lying.
You see, ever since a certain incident in a garden long ago involving a serpent and some fruit (and clothing hadn’t been invented yet — oh glorious day!) women have been extremely sensitive about being lied to. It ain’t ever going to happen again!
So, you’re just stuck there mutely staring at your sister with turmoil and terror in your eyes which is just the same as either answer. And that, my friends, is hell. On earth anyway. And with females, through no fault of your own, you’ve been stuck with since birth.
But there is redemption! By some accident of timing and lack of planning, I found myself clothes shopping with my little daughter recently. She emerged from the dressing room wearing a particularly well-crafted sheet of plant fiber and asked my opinion. Without even having to think, I replied “You look beautiful!” Catching a glimpse of the briefest of smiles on her face, I think I now have an idea of what heaven might be like.
Hamilton is the Creative Director at Transcript Bulletin Publishing and occasionally experiences what he describes as a “deep thought” now and then.