March 21, 2008

First Person:

Standing like a dork while she is shopping

By Al Carlos Hernandez

I found myself in walled jungle of high end color washed retail racks in the eye of estrogen fueled frenzy and wondered how it came to this. Like most men I hate to go shopping, it is especially painful when you know you are there for no apparent reason. I can see if you need to go to a wedding, funeral, graduation or baptism, notice I didn’t say opera or ballet? But shopping for the pure sport of it still doesn’t make much sense to me. I go because my wife wants me there, certainly not for my fashion expertise; I’ve been called by those in the know, R –not- me.

We meander from rack to rack, pulling a garment out giving it the quick once over then it is slapped back with a click, then onto the next one. Pull- look-slap, pull- look -slap, please- slap-me. If it’s good she will hold it up then explain to me why the garment is cute and what she could wear it with. I always nod my head yes, because I have no idea what she is talking about and am thinking about motor vehicles. Quid Pro Quo, she gives me the exact same expression when I cajole her into looking at used luxury cars with me.

How do guys know what is cute? Look at the way we dress. I’m happy that she wants to spend quality time with me on her days off, although it would be in her best fashion interest to take someone who knows about such things, but I have a suspicion that she knows that if I like something never to buy it. She is well aware that whomever I vote for always loses.

If and since I’m forced to stand and deliver, I adopt a bodyguard posture, eyeball the shopaholics, and encourage movement towards the clearance rack. Men, before you even bring it up, things are never cute on the clearance rack, actualize it. If you lobby too hard for something you found on the clearance pile, you will no doubt be directed to wear it home on the bus. If by some dumb luck you pick something from clearance and it is a rare find, she happens to love it, you have “a good eye” and will be forced to shop more often and if you are not careful will eventually have to pick out your own clothes.

The hardest part of shopping for men is not looking at the other shoppers, be aware that as she is rifling through the racks she has got one eye on you, making sure you are not sizing up the competition. Wives are always smug in indicating that they got their man to come shopping with them, while the other Shoppa-Mamas couldn’t their hubby hunk off the couch.

There are men who don’t go shopping with their wives they are called “Billionaires”. They never have to do a lifetime of shopping penance for accidently buying the White Caddy Seville last week.

It is easy to start a feeding frenzy around a rack by saying in a baritone voice, “Whoa that is really hip”. I like to lift my eyebrows at the big bone girls who try to work the petite rack, and feel like saying Woman; I know you are shopping for somebody else. Women know how to give that look conveying the same sentiment without a sound. I got that look while trying on a Kenneth Cole sport coat over my Harley sweatshirt, so much of competitive shopping is non verbal almost primal in the way some guard their catch.

It is embarrassing to re rack something that you really liked but couldn’t afford only for someone to pick it up, hold it up shake it, then cast it aside as comical, this is equal to a Guy in a similar situation blowing his nose with the garment in question. Conversely, it always fun to see something from Ringling Brothers circus that you were laughing over being purchased by an immigrant who think its vogue.

My wife is gracious in knowing that I can only take so much, I usually end up outside on the bench or in the car waiting for her treasure hunt to play itself out.

A word to the wise if you want to cut it short take her to lu nch and not a fast food joint either.

How come anything you buy will go on sale next week?

-Erma Bombeck

Al Carlos Hernandez writes from Hollywood.

Return to the Frontpage