Part 288: The Lady In Red?

RECORD STORE TALES Part 288: The Lady In Red?

In mid-1996, I was minding the store one sunny morning. It was a pleasant summer day. A quiet morning, I was at the counter inputting new stock. As I slaved over a hot keyboard, entering CD after CD into inventory, I saw an old lady in a slinky red dress enter the store. As was our custom, I said hello as she entered. She didn’t respond and I went back to entering CDs as she looked around the easy listening section of the store.

That is when I noticed something very unusual with the lady in red.  (For the time.)

LADY IN REDMy boss noticed it too, as he emerged from his office in the back. She barely had any hair on her head. We both came to the realization at the same time: the lady in red was a man!

An old, skinny, bald man in a red dress!

It was not a pleasant sight, this skeletal frame accented by the loose silky red fabric.  LGBTQ+ is A-OK by me but this was a sight from a horror movie.  A living dead zombie in a dress.  Shopping for CDs.

My boss and I exchanged glances. We looked back at the man, just to make sure our eyes were not deceiving us. No; that was most definitely an ancient man in that red dress, casually browsing the easy listening section. Perhaps he was looking for some old Chris de Burgh?

My boss said to me, “Mike, can you go over there and see if he needs help finding anything?”

We watched as the skeleton spent 10 or 20 minutes browsing, the only customer in the whole store. Then without a word, but with a flourish of his red dress, he left. I never saw him again.

I wonder if I would have made a customer if I had approached the walking cadaver in red for help? Too bad I didn’t have a copy of The Very Best of Chris de Burgh. I could have popped in his theme song and made a sale!



  1. This takes me back several years ago, early in my bar/restaurant career, I was coming down with a nasty cold while at work. Getting progressively worse as the night wore on, I decided to get myself some nighttime cold medicine from our local 24-hour retailer. Dragging my carcass into the store, wanting medicine and very little surprises, I was walking about forty feet behind (what I thought was) a woman in a long black leather coat, black high heels, and long, flowing Farrah Fawcett hair. As other customers walked by “her”, their eyes/mouth/facial expressions all were of the “gasping in amazement” variety. I thought to myself: “This woman has GOT to be smoking hot, judging by all these people’s faces!” Of course, as fate would have it, she headed directly to the cold care aisle, with me following, and as I made my NyQuil selection, I caught the glance of a wide-eyed, square-jawed MAN in all his late-night shopping women’s fashions/make-up/wig!!!


  2. I love stuff like this. Good post! It’s always good to see people who are just out there and doing/being what they want to do/be. It takes balls (or a serious level of indifference) to go into public like that. People judge. In the worst cases, some people attack what’s different. But these folks aren’t likely to be anything to anyone other than outside the norm. Good for them!


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