The Wife hit me with some of the most dreaded seven words in the English language.
“Can you go clothes shopping with me?”
Being a husband for more that twenty years, I know what’s expected so I smile gamely (very much like my dog “smiles” just before throwing up) and nod. I don’t trust my male brain to casually toss out the right words in a situation like this.
So today was the day.
There’s a few things you need to understand about the Wife. I won’t list them off here, more tell you as we go. To make it easy for the quiz later, we’ll bold them, okay?
So first, she’s going to get her nails done. Of course, because it’s all in the same mall, I have to go and wait. So in my mind, I start mapping out what I can do while she does that female thing that makes her happy. All I see is a bunch of women filing away at other women’s hands or scrubbing that gnarly elephant skin off the bottom of their feet. Yeah, lucky I don’t have to eat for a while. Ew.
But of course, the Wife can’t let me just wander. God knows the shit an unattended male can get into. So she tells me about a sale she saw on boots that would be good for me to check out while she’s in the salon. The Wife likes to plan my free time out. Lovely.
The sarcasm in my response to her doesn’t seem to meet with the appreciation I expected. Yeah, the Wife’s funny that way.
Anyway, I check out the sale. Surprise, it’s Canadian Tire, so of course all the rabid Wives have already sent their beleaguered husbands well ahead of me to denude the shelves. Wasted trip. Lovely.
Back at the mall, I finally get to do the things I’d planned to do anyway, now I just have twenty less minutes to do them in.
I get them done, and stop by the salon to see how long she’s going to be. She looks at the Cinnamon Stix I got from Cinnabon as though they were turds. Actually she looks at them with the look of why is he eating those? I didn’t put that stop on his itinerary, dammit!
She finally finishes up paying the equivalent of some kid’s college tuition for her nails and we’re off to the main event: finding her a dress for a wedding we’re attending in Virginia in three weeks.
I’m gonna throw this out here now. About three years ago, the Wife came home and declared for all and sundry that she, being of sound mind and body, would never again take the Boy clothes shopping. Apparently it was a mind and soul-ripping experience.
Me? I don’t see the issue. We bash out exactly what he needs to buy on the way over, plan out which stores to hit, hit them, I hold up clothes I think he may like, he nods or shakes. Eventually we compile a reasonable stack, he tries them on, yea or nays them, we buy and leave. Can usually get five pairs of pants, a few t-shirts, a few button-down shirts, socks, underwear and shoes in under an hour.
This is not the way the Wife shops for clothes. Unfortunately.
We hit the first store. I immediately scoot to the dress section. I scan the racks. I pick out a few designs. I turn to let the Wife know.
She’s looking at jackets.
What? my poor confused male brain asks. I thought we were shopping for dresses. Wait! It’s for a wedding! We are shopping for dresses! She’s tricking me!
I attempt to point out the error of her ways. Yet again, my sarcasm doesn’t seem to meet with the appreciation I expected. I’m sure another guy would appreciate it.
After looking at every single article of clothing in the store (and trying on about half of them), all the while being pounded by some of the most annoying, torturous music I’ve ever heard, we leave the store. We’ve purchased nothing.
I’d like to take you through this several more times just so you begin to feel my pain, but I’ll spare you. Just go back at read that last paragraph say…oh…eight or nine more times.
All done? Has another ice age come and gone? Good, let’s carry on.
We pretty much go from one end of the mall to the other. Eventually, one hundred and fifty excruciating minutes in, we find a dress. The heavens open up and the angels sing.
Well okay, in reality it’s that same shit music I’ve been subjected to for almost three hours. But we now have a dress.
As the Wife grabs the bag with the prize, she say, “Now we gotta buy shoes.”
The Wife never buys just one thing. She always has more things to buy.
My eyes tear up, my lower lip trembles and I get the shakes, because I know the rule: As long as it takes to buy a dress, it takes far, far longer to purchase shoes. And you never EVER get just one pair of shoes.
I pray for a swift and painless death. God is mocking me.
So we head back down the mall again. I get to participate in the one fun part of the day.
As we’re walking, two young guys, ridiculously cool in their hoodies and their side-slanted ball caps and their walk that makes it look as though they took a dump in those low-hanging pants and are trying not to get bacon strips on their underwear. Yeah, that type.
Anyway, they’re just in front of us. They turn and begin to yell at someone else. I don’t bother to look because all the stupidity I need is right there in front of me.
“Watch your language, you asshole!” one says (apparently quite seriously).
“Yeah, you got a family there, you dick,” chimes in the other.
The both of them fire off, “Shut your f*ckin’ mouth!”
So let’s stop for half a second here to examine this. They heard profane language coming from someone in the vicinity of their (guessing) young family. So, to school him or her, they drop the f-bomb about four or five times. Okay, makes a crazy sort of sense.
So, being me, I have to jump in. “Yep, you guys are setting the right example, aren’t you?” I love pointing out morons for all the world to see. Makes me feel all gushy inside.
“Some f*ckin’ people should learn to mind their own f*ckin’ bidness!” says one of the two white boys.
I could have come back with the fact that they, in fact, were not minding their f*ckin’ bidness when they chose to yell at someone else. I could have pointed out that they were carrying on a long distance conversation that actually passed by me in a public place. I could have pointed out that they walked like they just crapped their pants.
Instead, all I could do was laugh.
Their response nearly blinded me with its brilliance.
They mocked my laugh. Ouch.
It’s really sad that some choose to engage in mental warfare without any ordinance. Morons.
Walking away from the highlight of my shopping excursion, we then went back into one of the stores we’d previously visited. Remember, we’re shopping for shoes here.
The store we entered has no shoes.
The Wife will indicate we’re looking for one thing while slyly leading me to look for other, non-indicated merchandise.
She is wily, that Wife of mine.
So we spend some wonderful together time while I hold a reasonable approximation of the dress up and she hangs accessories off it. I spend most of the time considering how I will accessorize the next book I buy. I decide I will accessorize it with a book of slightly less page-count or, failing that, a magazine.
Sorry guys, it’s the best I can do. I’m not really a manly man. As you can see, twenty years of marriage have effectively emasculated me more effectively than any vasectomy ever could. There’s likely eunuchs out there more manly than I am. But, as one of the Wife’s co-workers says, all men should be thankful to me. I took the bullet for the team.
Eventually, three or four horrid, bass-thumping songs later, we now have achieved Effective Accessorization. The world can breathe a little easier.
Unfortunately, even a non-manly man like myself has finally unavoidably, inevitably hit the Wall. No, not the Pink Floyd album. I’ve hit the limit of how much bad music, overpriced clothing, oversized model murals on the wall, commiserating looks from the other males who’s unfortunate paths I’ve crossed.
It’s finally time for the Life Support System for the Wallet to put his unmanly foot down.
The Wife stops in front of the shoe store and looking at the pain on my face says, “Can I go in?” which, translated from the female, actually means, “Are you gonna whine like a bitch if I go into this store too?”
Gathering all my masculine glory up, I state, “…yeah, go ahead.”
At this point, we spend mere seconds in the store, I lamely point out a pair that are quickly and summarily dismissed and the Wife says, “Don’t worry about it. Let’s just go.”
Knowing the Wife, I know the danger’s never past until we officially leave the mall and get in the car and actually put some distance between us and commercial thievery. Even then, it can be dicey if we happen to pass another retail outlet along the way.
But I think the Wife has seen the abject misery that I’m in.
She has pity on me.
We arrive home. I begin to breathe again.