Please explain this quote from Head and Shoulders by F. Scott Fitzgerald: ''...unrolled like a piece of Irish lace on a Saturday afternoon bargain counter..." I'm not able to understand this phrase.
The title of F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story Head and Shoulders refers to the unlikely couple Horace Tarbox and Marcia Meadow, so coined by Marcia after they get married. Horace, an academic, has a plan for his life and at age seventeen is already enrolled for his Master of Arts at Yale university. He lacks social skills and even his professors find him "detached"; one such professor even commenting that it seems "as though I were talking to his representative."
Horace's life will shortly take an unexpected turn and cause him to reassess everything he thinks he believes because he will be visited by Marcia Meadows. Marcia Meadows is a "chorus girl" and sings in a musical comedy called "Home James" which is being shown in the town and is very popular with the students. Horace would never think of going and would not mix in the circles where such a musical would be discussed but, because she is part of a prank set up by Charlie Moon, one of Horace's cousins, she will arrive at Horace's apartment and will unwittingly change the course of his future.
The simile "unrolled him like a piece of Irish lace on a Saturday-afternoon bargain-counter" refers to the effects that Marcia has on him. Horace is compared to a piece of Irish lace because it is a luxury product requiring skill in the making of it and which is beyond the reach of the average person such as Horace's intellect and poor social skills are beyond the understanding of most people. You would not expect to find Irish lace on a bargain-counter either just as you would not expect to find Horace at a show. However, "life" in the form of Marcia manages to "unroll(ed) him" by exposing him to a life which initially makes him uncomfortable but within which he learns to compromise and even find enjoyment, relishing his wife and her efforts to write and prepared to do anything for her. Ultimately, he will ironically be noted more for his acrobatic skill than any academic skill.