Tran tried unsuccessfully to remain aloof from the hilarity. He took a moment to calm himself before he turned back, still slightly smiling, and said, “It seems very odd to them. You have never seen this woman’s body. She is not your wife or your lover. So, why on Earth do you want to buy an ao dai for her?”
The women had a point. Fredrick’s of Hollywood and Victoria’s Secret sell less intimate apparel. I gave up. I told Tran they’d just have to do their best.
But I wasn’t getting off that easy. The entire staff, including seamstresses, was now being marshaled toward the front of the shop where I was supposed to walk past, like a military inspection, to pick the girl whose shape was the closest match.
Focused on escape, I picked the girl nearest the door, which I immediately jumped through and into Tran’s waiting car.
I returned to the shop the next day in a driving tropical rainstorm. I picked up my package, stuffed it into a drenched backpack, left for the airport and flew home. That was when my problems really started.
If you ever do make the mistake of buying an ao dai for a casual female friend, my further advice is: Do not compound your error by regaling her with the story of a roomful of giggling strangers holding out cupped hands trying to help you guess her chest size. Just give her the sack with the certain knowledge that it won’t fit, apologize in advance and cut your losses.
I didn’t follow this simple tactic. I told her the whole story. I didn’t even leave out the, “Why are you here if you aren’t sleeping with her?” part. She listened in stunned silence, with that classic “I can’t believe I’m hearing this, you moron,” look on her face.
Then, with one of those half-chuckles that could easily turn into a gag reflex, she took the parcel and left.
I haven’t seen her since. But I did have a short one-sided conversation with her to this effect: “I really don’t appreciate you talking about my body. The thing didn’t fit anyway. You picked the wrong model. The material isn’t even real silk. I burned it. It melted. It’s plastic. Goodbye.”