I went anyway, lugging a giant blue IKEA bag of clothes I no longer wanted with me.
The swaps are hosted by my friend R, in her living room. When I got there a large group had already gathered, with women milling about, eating cookies and making small talk. I knew some of them and said 'hi' and caught up on things. There were so many people there it was difficult to move around.
I felt undertones of cattiness as the women sorted the clothes, with some calling out orders, "No, that pile is for blouses! Skirts go there!" God forbid that a skirt should lie among blouses. Once the clothing was all sorted, the 'trying on' phase began. I didn't feel enough motivation to vie for the best pieces with so many clothes hounds in the room. The scene resembeld a feeding frenzy. I tried on a couple different things, but was given negative feedback from those present: "that doesn't work on you." I gave up and sat down beside the door, next to a couple of women who had lodged themselves by the snack table and were building and then consuming towers of carbohydrates on paper plates.
It was too crowded, too loud, too catty and too chaotic. I grabbed my coat, said a quick good bye and left the place, wondering why in the world I had ever come.
The one positive thing about the whole misadventure was that I got to unload a bunch of stuff and clear some space in my home. Hooray for more space.