The last time my daughter (“J”) visited I had borrowed an abaya and she wore this in keeping with local (mandatory) custom. This time around she did not want to wander Riyadh the airport waiting in transit without proper attire. So I tried to order a garment online. Amazon, sorry, they had basically one company that had the majority of offerings that couldn’t be delivered in time. It seems that they are made to order.
Ah! Ebay! Yay!
I found one size small or maybe “S.” It’s all about the “S.”
Ordered, paid – Paypal, done, shipped. The delay was shipping just before Xmas. An email later and the seller revealed she worked for UPS and that there could be no slip ups. I was just a bit worried when tracking the package I saw it was held up for two days in NYC. Arrived – too small!! It came down to J’s knees, too short, made for a child… child’s small?
I put out inquires among my nursing colleagues. My clinic nurse, Jen, graciously volunteered to loan J an abaya and promised it would fit J’s 5’4” frame. Ha, what do I know she’s 5’6”. She got two inches taller when I wasn’t looking. Don’t laugh, I remember her birthday, I just didn’t notice she got taller.
David arrived before J and we toured the Balad (old city). Aha! An abaya store, how convenient. I was determined to have an abaya for J when she arrived. I looked through the racks of black garments. I asked for a small. I told the shopkeeper J was 5’4’. He handed me a garment. We looked at the label it was XL, too large. I picked out an ‘S’ and asked David to try it for size. He flatly refused. Darn! Well holding it up, it did look the right size.
When J arrived two days later, she tried it on. It was too tight in the sleeves and was also too short. Too short! Double darn! Thankfully one of Jen’s loaners was right enough.
A few days later J consented to try an abaya for size in another shop in Al Balad. And finally the mystery was solved! ‘S’ is for short. And ‘XL’ is for extra long. Women in Saudi Arabia are shorter than J. And XL turns out to be the right length. Extra long! Yes, it fits. We bargained for a better price. Yay! But… he didn’t have an XL in the style J wanted. No problem… the shopkeeper ran across to another vendor and showed up with an XL a minute later. Done!
It finally fits. And on the way home through Riyadh, J will look appropriately dressed.
Did I mention that I also bought J a wetsuit online in her stated dress size. The thing didn’t come up over her ankles, it was too small. No more buying women’s clothes, I have been duly informed and will comply.