Code 50, Section 10

Image of security guard from rear "Code 50, Section 10", the store intercom broadcast. Or, at least, that's what I recall hearing coming over the intercom while I was shopping in a large, downtown Ottawa department store back in the early '90's. A day earlier, I was having lunch with an attractive young lady who was looking forward to getting out of town for a weekend getaway in the Laurentians. The resort, whose name now escapes me, was located near the town of St. Hippolyte and boasted quaint cabins, jacuzzis, and whirlpools nestled into a scenic mountain setting. Although we had only been dating a short while, I suspect the notion of sitting in an outdoor hot tub, sipping on wine and taking in the autumn colours alone made the proposition appealing. In short, her only objection to the weekend getaway was that she lacked swimwear.

While I normally would not ask a woman what size of clothing she wore, the wheel in my brain was already spinning and the hamster was getting dizzy picturing her petite frame in a two-piece swim suit. "I wouldn't even know how they size swim suits for women," I said innocently. "Are they, like, small, medium and large like they are for us guys?" A man has to be simultaneously cautious and sensitive in these matters. After some discussion on the protocols of women's clothing sizes, I learned she was a size 4 and the conversation over lunch turned to another topic. The gentlemanly thing to do, I concluded, was to surprise her with a new swim suit so she wouldn't be able to rely on the dreaded "But I don't have a thing to wear" argument from the canonical Women's Excuse Guide. Lord knows, one need always be concerned about thinking, let alone responding, "Al fresco Darlin', al fresco."

The following day I decided I'd go swimsuit shopping. Definitely a two-piece, I thought, and while red might have best complimented her blonde hair, I felt that a more conservative blue might have been less suggestive... a gentleman always. Price tags are not always the easiest thing in the world to read. For that matter, neither are the size tags. And it hadn't occurred to me, prior to going swimsuit shopping, that the price tags and size tags on slinky bikini swimwear are even smaller than they are on regular clothing items. Moreover, if small price and size tags on small slinky swimwear are difficult to read for someone with good eyesight, can you imagine the challenge such a task would pose for someone with significant vision loss? Fortunately, I seldom shy away from a challenge and the ultimate objective made the endeavour worthwhile.

It never occurred to me that a man holding a slinky women's garment inches from his face, his nose almost touching them, could look anything other than a vision-impaired man trying to discern what size and price the garments were. In retrospect, however, I can understand that to the untrained eye, particularly an overenthusiastic security observer, I quite likely appeared to be some sort of pervert sniffing the crotches of ladies swimwear. I learned two important lessons that day:

1. A man should always ask for assistance from a salesperson when he's unable to read the small tags on women's clothing; and,

2. When you hear "Code 50 - Section 10" coming over the store's intercom, security are on their way to ladies lingerie and things are going to get ugly.

Submitted by Jeff Dubois, 30 November 2015