Observations by Tricia Heywood

I went to see ‘Crazy, Stupid Love’ this weekend.  While I can’t say it offered me much more than a quick escape from the afternoon rain and depressing reminders of a  looming double dip and global economic woes, one scene left me wondering.  Is Cal Weaver (Steve Carell) really better than the Gap?

Much of the film is dedicated to the transformation of Cal from boring, middle-aged, divorcee stripped of his manhood into a smooth, confident bachelor even his ex-wife would lust after.  During a shopping excursion to acquire the fashion items the slickly  dressed womanizing Jacob (Ryan Gosling) insists he needs to fit the part, Cal is  faced with embracing his new look, his new designer jeans, and…. dropping the  Gap.  In the middle of Century Plaza, in a Tony Robinson convention-esque way, Jacob coaches Cal into declaring aloud “I am better than the Gap.”

Initially, I cringed – yikes I wonder how the Gap feels about that product mention.  But then all I could wonder was, hey… what happened to the Gap?

I used to shop at the Gap regularly.  Didn’t we all?  For years, when I needed a quick reliable new addition to my wardrobe, I’d hit the Gap.  It was never just jeans to me,  although I’ve bought many a pair there. No, the Gap provided a solution for belts,  t-shirts definitely, a funky little top for that evening’s outing.  I counted on the Gap.  But somewhere along the way, and I couldn’t pinpoint when, that changed.

The last time I bought anything for myself at the Gap was out of dire necessity.  Eighteen months ago,  the middle of winter at Philadelphia airport I was to change planes for my final destination, Dayton.  Flight re-routed to Akron, luggage not,  I wiped my sweaty hands once more on the jeans and t-shirt I’d been wearing since 8 am London time and thought ahead to what I’d look (and smell) like the next morning at 9 when I would be starting a workshop with 6 senior executives at a financial firm.  So much for that lovely new (clean) DvF dress I prayed I’d be reunited with one day.

Okay, surely I could explain the jeans and luckily I’d decided, at the last minute, to wear my black Joseph blazer.  Really, all I needed was a fresh shirt – maybe a ‘dressy’ t-shirt. So, when my tired, frustrated eyes spotted the familiar blue and white sign 100 feet down the concourse, I couldn’t hold back an audible sigh of relief.  The Gap! Yes, problem solved. Within twenty minutes I was standing at the register exchanging $24.99 for a beige, blousy, sleeveless t-shirt with an embroidered design on the front that would no doubt enhance my bland blue jeans and black blazer for the next day’s meetings.  Once again, the Gap came through.

But, honestly, had the situation been different, would I have looked to the Gap?  Why did it take an emergency and a chance location at the Philadelphia airport to get me back?  And why have I not been back since?  Now, while I don’t recall ever coming to a  conclusion of being better than the Gap I left the theater yesterday with a feeling of forgetfulness and oversight.  Somewhere along the way, had I simply forgotten about the Gap?  Or, had the Gap forgotten about me?