Saturday was a crazy day for me. After eight hours at the museum, where I sat through tour guide training and worked on the stacks of paperwork I have yet to get through, I drove 45 minutes to my second job, that of a barista in a quaint little coffee shop in Pittsburgh.
When I got there I found the other two baristas who work that shift haggard and worn, wrappers on the floor and the counters and tabletops unwiped because they had been running around ever since their shift started three hours ago. From the looks of it, about half of the city of Pittsburgh out on the streets due to this past weekend's warm weather must have hit up our coffee shop for cool drinks and ice cream.
So I rolled up my sleeves and began to restock the condiments and take out the overflowing trash bags. As I was securing a trash bag to a garbage can, my twin sister Leigh (who was also patronizing the coffee shop at this time) ran up to me, pointing excitedly out the window.
I spun around. Sure enough, I saw two girls clad in Lolita fashion, wearing the conservative dresses in festively springtime hues of green and pink. Leigh wanted me to run out right then and there and talk to them. I washed my hands, stepped outside the door, looked ahead to the girls a half a block ahead of me, and... stopped.
I'm used to being looked at like a freak show exhibit when people see my twin sister and I together for the first time. We are identical twins and, although we don't dress the same, we have received the scrutinizing stares, the examinations, pointing and the verbal comparisons to the Olsen twins. What was I going to say to these Lolitas after having pointed and gushed over them as well? "Hi, I write a neo-Victorian blog and I'd like to talk to you ladies because your dress is so unusual, but I can't do it right now because I have to work, so here's my number and my blog address, please contact me" would be kind of awkward. It would treat them like a freak show, and did they really want that? They were obviously trying to enjoy the sunny and warm weather, like all the other pedestrians.
So I watched them walk away, wondering if I did the right thing.
At least I know this: Lolita fashion has infiltrated Pittsburgh. This old, once-great industrial city is not as far behind the times as I had thought it was.