That's right. Shopping.
Now, anybody who has taken a close look at me and my renowned, earth-toned wardrobe knows that shopping is not my game. After all, I'm a guy. Ergo, I do not shop. Heck, I barely buy except when cajoled by a combination of threats, bribes and her own special version of the Jedi Mind Trick. And when circumstances do force me to purchase an item of clothing for myself without direct supervision, it is generally without regard to style, fashion, color, fabric or cut.
But that doesn't mean I don't know anything about shopping.
Quite the contrary.
As a husband with over four decades of experience, I have taken part in any number of shopping expeditions in support of the woman I love. Having said that, I now feel obliged to share some of my hard-earned knowledge with my younger brethren, as well as those older dudes who were too inattentive, too stubborn or too dumb to learn it in the first place.
So listen. Listen and learn.
• Make a plan, Man. So here's the deal. You both have goals. She wants to find a dazzling bit of fashionista magic that will make her look five years younger and ten pounds lighter. You, on the other hand, want to get home in time for the last three innings of the Cubs game. Unlikely as it seems, you can both get what you want. It just takes a little planning on your part to speed the process along a little.
• Be a sport, Mort. First of all, don't pout just because you're being dragged along on a shopping trip. After all, if your marriage is typical of most, she does just about everything for you except chew your food. So you owe her one. Act like you like it. Besides, if you behave, she might let you stop for ice cream on the way home.
• Take it slow, Joe. Here's something you need to understand right off the bat: she is never, never, never going to purchase the first thing she sees, even if it exactly what she's looking for, fits her perfectly, and is free.
Instead, she is going to shop.
Attempting to hurry her will not make things go faster. Quite the contrary, in fact, because if she senses that you are push-push-pushing her through her finely honed shopping routine, she will automatically begin to switch into a highly potent slowdown mode that definitively proves and demonstrates Newton's Third Law of Motion: "To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction."
Or you can think of it this way. Have you ever tried to herd cats? How about pushing a rope? Same deal.
• Grab a seat, Pete. In a smart, considerate move that rivals the introduction of something besides old copies of "The Ladies' Home Journal" in a few select doctor and dentist offices, there are sometimes chairs located near the dressing rooms in the women's department of some stores. They are, I assume, for the use of poor, abused, embarrassed husbands who would otherwise shuffle and stand uneasily, struggling to avoid eye contact with the mannequin that's displaying the latest in lingerie.
So have a seat.
It will make you look cool and unhurried. It will make you look relaxed. It might even make you look calmly intelligent and ready to help her make a wise decision on just what item of clothing she should buy.
This is all bunk, of course, but if she takes enough stuff into the dressing room with her, you might be able to catch a nap.
• Close the deal, Neal.
Since you're there anyway, she might even ask your opinion. Sometimes it might be a simple "What do you think?" Other times, things might get downright dangerous, as in, "Does this make me look fat?" The thing is, this is the time when you really need to play it cool. Obviously, everything looks nice. And nothing, repeat nothing makes her look fat, even if it has the word "Goodyear" printed on the side. But here's the kicker: Never ever say you absolutely love the item she has picked out and that she should buy it and become the instant belle of the ball. She will smell a rat, right off. And she's right of course, since she probably knows you would say she looked good in one of those black plastic 55-gallon leaf bags if it would get you back to your recliner a little sooner. So stick with positive, quietly encouraging opinions that seem to indicate you really are paying attention.
"That color looks good on you"
"It reminds me of when I first met you."
and the absolute kicker:
"Have you lost some weight?"
If all else fails, you might try a highly refined desperation play and indicate that one of her selections isn't your absolute favorite among the twenty-four zillion items she's tried on. Chances are, she'll sprain an ankle rushing to buy it.
• Best of luck, Chuck.
Despite all my vainglorious utterance as to my knowledge and experience in this matter, you might as well know now that nothing is really going to work the way you hope it will. Fact is, husbands have been giving the wrong answers regarding wardrobe choices ever since Eve asked Adam if he liked her new outfit, So try to relax. Try to make the best of an unavoidable situation. And look at the bright side.
Chances are, the Cubs are losing, anyway.