Of all my tools, although more often I use a single-edge razor, I’m partial to the paper punch. I love the neat little hole it leaves behind and the ripping thwick of the two round fitted edges cleaving the fabric. If I have time in the dressing room to do more than ruin the garments, I like to punch the holes where my nipples would be if I were trying things on. It must be comical when someone actually does. They tell you they’re not watching, but believe me there are cameras in those dressing rooms. I’ve seen myself on tape, not once, in the back rooms where they hold you for hours when they disagree with your politics. I don’t steal anything. I discount. Sometimes I’m content to alter the dresses still on the racks out in the brightly-lit showrooms. I slide my razor from the waist down to the hem or open an incision across the bust line in the time it takes to check a tag for a markdown. I don’t actually look at the tags any more. They infuriate me and touching them draws the attention of the sales team, but sometimes I’ll clip one to bring home and paste in my book. These are the designers I have bagged; they’ve got some nerve. I don’t take time to savor my successes in the store; the music there will shrink your brain. I cut and punch and walk to the exit, leaving behind my slits and holes and fashion-turned-to-fabric on a hanger, feeling valued. When the sales girl looks me over for bulges, I pinch the blade between my fingers and watch her from the corner of my eye. She doesn’t know she doesn’t want to know me but she doesn’t want to know me.

Copyright © February 07, 2008 David Hodges