Please understand that my hubby hates shopping with a rabid, seething hatred the likes of which can only be imagined by mere mortals. And if you say anything about either shopping for or wearing a tie, his entire face will split down the middle, his head will rotate and the fires of hell will spew forth from his mouth.
So, it’s not a great idea, bringing up shopping, much less for normal, everyday clothing. But now we have a Family Trip coming up, with parents, aunts, and uncles, and it involves wearing more than camos and plaid shirts. (Yeah. He wears plaid and camo. Together. This is what I have to work with, folks. It’s not pretty.)
(Note the camos + plaid as well as the expression of terror behind that manic smile.)
So when he wanted to go to the Big City a few hours away to look for fishing supplies at Cabela Mountain Pro Shops?
Aha! I had the bait (no pun intended). Now if I could only reel him in.
Here’s how it went down. And no, I’m not proud of what I had to do.
-- T-minus 1 week until shopping trip to Cablela Mountain Pro Shops. I’m dropping hints about how much fishing gear they have and how the quick-dry, sun-blocking, space-age fabric, ventilated gear will be just >fabulous< for his next day fishing on the local lake. I mention the Family Trip a few times, using subliminal messaging to get him primed for maybe selecting but a shirt or two that could double as vacation-appropriate as well as fishing-specific.
-- T-minus 1 day to go. I wait for dinnertime, then mention to hubby that while we are in the Big City, that I needed to get some items that were only available at the Big Mall. He’s watching Seinfeld and grunts in what I take for an agreement.
-- We drive to the Big City. Instead of going straight to the Big Mall, we go to an office supply story and get him an office chair. His chair is squeaky and his OCD cannot handle the noise, so he’s happy to get a new chair. He sits in a minimum of 50 chairs, narrows the selection down to 3, and spends the next 15 minutes going from seat to seat, maneuvering the chairs into positions that no office worker will ever require. He finally selects one. I praise him. He’s glowing.
-- We go to the Big Mall and park in front of the Discount Store “because it’s faster to get to the mall.” (He has no idea this is a false statement, as he never goes to the Big Mall.) I encourage him to go to the restroom. I know this will work because hubby has the bladder of a prepubescent Chihuahua. I also know that he’s saturated with Fancy Coffee that was obtained right before we hit Big City limits. His nephrons are working overtime to filter that soy-cappu-latte-chino-doubleshot whatever the hell people put in coffee these days.
-- We exit restroom and regroup. OH LOOK. We just happen to be in the men’s section of Discount Store. Ok, folks, this is where it gets dicey. I tell hubby we need to get him a new outfit “just in case” and also because his one other shirt/tie/slacks combo is at least 6 years old and I can no longer button the top button around his enlarging middle-aged neck. Panic flashes across his features. He’s scanning for the exit, but cannot find it, because we are IN THE BOWELS OF THE DISCOUNT STORE where no man has ever found his way out alive without his wife helping him. Do not screw with me, I know this Mall and this Discount Store and I know you will get lost, and I know that you will never, ever find the car in that big parking lot, because upon entry into the store, you became disoriented by the smiling salespeople, ubiquitous checkout counters, and racks of bright colored clothing.
-- I wander far enough away that hubby has to follow me or risk being lost forever in the Discount Store. In the Dockers aisle, give him two choices (neither of which is #%&$# khaki or god#$^&@ing damned camo print). He gets mad and digs in his heels. I remind him that his ticket out of this hell and into Cabela Mountain Pro Shops is to select an outfit that includes: 1 pair of slacks, 1 matching shirt, and 1 tie. That is all.
-- Thank you, baby Jesus, that we find a button down shirt which has an expandable neck button thingy. Whoever came up with this feature is a genius. Or a wife of a guy who hates wearing dress shirts. He cannot recall his shirt size and begins to hyperventilate. The sales lady, bless her heart, FREAKING EYEBALLS hubby from four feet away and spouts off his neck and arm measurements. We go to the dressing room. Holy fitted shirt, Batman! She is 100% spot-on with her measurements. That is a hell of an amazing skill to have right there. He gets the navy blue pants and a plaid shirt. I mention that as a “backup” he should have a solid shirt and a tie. His head turns bright red and the only words he can form are unprintable. I remind him of the promised land of Cabela Mountain Pro Shops. A look of utter focus and determination comes over him and he re-clothes himself and returns to the men’s department with renewed vigor. I use my powers of psychic manipulation to steer him toward the nice gray shirt. He selects the shirt I want, and I praise him for his fashion acumen.
-- He cannot find a tie and begins to panic again. No problem, I tell him, we can go to the other Discount Store here in the Big Mall. He freaks out. But then, I mention that we should first eat at the Mexican fast food place he loves more than anything. Boom. Putty in my hands. He’s carrying a bag of clothing he doesn’t want to go get the food he does want so he can go to another store he doesn’t want to enter. Genius.
-- Full tummies provide a second window of opportunity, and I remind him that the other Discount Store has the cosmetic items I need. (I rarely wear cosmetics, but he doesn’t know this.) He feels helpful, going to this store now, so that I can get something. I purchase an item I’ll never use, and we move quickly to the men’s department here, where I distract him by waving rayon/polyester/lightweight/quick-drying Hawaiian shirts (his weakness) at him and coaxing him through the “fun clothes” and further into the back of the men’s section....where the ties await.
-- Pure genius. Here are the rules of the next step: hubby can select 4 ties, I will pick the one that matches the best. It’s like watching a toddler do calculus and it takes at least 40 minutes, but by golly, he picks out 4 ties. And by some act of God, one of the ties works with navy + gray. He ends up getting the Hawaiian shirt, too. Fine.
-- I leave to browse for 2 minutes. Hubby states he is going to find a shorter line than the one at the men’s checkout counter. I cannot find him. Upon rounding a corner, I see hubby, standing in line at the women’s lingerie counter, looking perplexed and uncomfortable. Flop sweat has broken out on his forehead, but he is almost to the cashier and I can tell he doesn’t want to give up his space in line, even if remaining there involves listening to women talk about underwear and Womanly Things. A kindly older woman with her hands full of plus sized underwires and queen pantyhose is tearing out a coupon from the flyer to give to him. She looks at me with a mixture of humor and sympathy and I nod. When he submits the coupon, he saves 15% and it’s like he has discovered plutonium. The remainder of the day is spent recounting how got the 15% discount.
-- Hubby is exhausted, but then I suggest a cookie at the Ubiquitous Mall Cookie Company stand. His demeanor changes, and he’s almost skipping as we go to purchase a cookie and then head for the car. Mind you, we still haven’t made it to Cabela Mountain Pro Shops yet.
-- By the time we pull into the parking lot of Cabela Mountain Pro Shops, hubby is a combination of excited, exhausted, full tummy, and sugar high. It’s not pretty. He can’t focus and is mumbling incoherently. We enter the store, and he’s struck dumb, enthralled by the rows upon rows of Fishing Things. An hour later, he re-emerges, the proud owner of two new fishing lures. Yes, folks, you heard right. 2 lures. That’s it. That’s all he ended up getting. Oh, yes, and an outfit suitable for formal occasions or funerals. Hopefully it will last another 6 years until I convince him to shop again.
Mission. Accomplished. God, I need a nap.
Author, daydreamer, and practitioner of trying very hard to duct tape folks together and help when I can.
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