The other night, when I went to the shopping mall with Chris, I should have known better.
In fact, ‘should have known better’ finally resulted in a new marriage law – the law of the mall – that under no circumstances would Chris, the husband, accompany Liz, the wife, to the shopping mall. This new law was enacted after one too many shopping trips in which Chris thought “going to the shopping mall” was code for “walking around the shopping mall” and Liz thought “going to the shopping mall” was code for “shopping”.
And, moreover, this “shopping” is just for “ME”.
When man and woman arrive at confusion at the shopping mall it may or may not result in a man and woman arguing, perhaps slightly louder than library voice, in the shopping mall about mixed messages and unmet expectations.
Enter the law of the mall.
Note that not every woman must rely on the law of the mall. There are the rare, few gems of men out there – like Jerome – who actually enjoy shopping, who are actually good at shopping. Who have Ironman-type-tolerance for shopping with the woman.
But this is not Chris. And this is why we just don’t go well together at the mall.
So when Chris requested that I join him at the shopping mall, I thought twice. But it was a nice night, and going to the mall would be fun, and it was with husband, and…….see – this is how it always starts. This is why I should have known better.
He requested my help in choosing some new shoes. Has he seen my shoes? Totally unhip with shoes, clothes, anything about fashion. Could he not have asked Meredith, his sister, queen of the diva shoes? She would be a much better fit for a shoe shopping trip like this.
Reluctantly about the shoes, I agreed to help.
There we were in the shoe shopping department at the department store. Immediately, one of those tall, dark, foreign, exotic women walks over to us and in her luscious accent asks Chris was he is looking for.
“Shoes” he says. Oh how I love my husband. Shoes in a shoe department. Perfect.
She gives him some suggestions about choosing a dress shoe, displaying an array of attractive black shoes before us. Everything rolled out of her mouth like “thissssssssss, very lovely, beauuuuuuuuuuutiful shoe” and she dangled the shoe in front of us. I felt dirty for listening to her. I wanted her to stop having sex with the shoes but she knew that the sex would sell.
And she did her best to make sure it would – stacking a small empire of black dress shoe boxes in front of us. Chris begins to try on each shoe, walking up and down, looking at himself in the mirror. He parades before me, asking my opinion, asking me to compare this one to that one.
This goes on for awhile.
And after looking at what I swear was the same black shoe paraded up and down in front of me for far too long, I am convinced this is a wicked form of reverse gender torture. I mean, I’m sure at some point \I have tortured him like this with clothing or handbags or dresses. But shopping for men’s black dress shoes – oh, this crosses the line from I will tolerate this because I love you to I am totally bored and starting to loathe you. Pick a shoe, any shoe, and let’s get on with shopping at the mall – is that not why I am here, to shop, for me?
Psssssstt……….LAW OF THE MALL.
“Which one,” he asks, holding out two pairs before me, looking for help. Are you kidding? Which one? You mean the black one or the other black one. Let’s see, I close my eyes and pick….THE BLACK ONE?
Finally he settles on one pair, which then complicates the matter by about 1000 percent as he tries to figure out which shoe goes in which box. The hazards of trying on what appeared to be 10 different versions of the SAME EXACT SHOE.
He then proceeds to begin putting the shoes back in the boxes after he has made his choice. I sit watching this completely stunned. The man that will build large piles of papers all over the tables, not close a cabinet door, throw clothing on the floor is now cleaning up the shoe department? Who is this man? And how unfair is it that he is not the same as the one that lives with me?
I don’t like shopping like this. I do not like shopping like this. I will never go shopping like this again. The law of the mall is almost bursting from my lips.
Then it was done - shoe department – cleaned - shoes – purchased - shoe sales clerk – way too sexual for this department – and I think we are finally done. I think it is safe to return this mission to it’s original mission – to go shopping.
“How about a tie, I need a tie,” Chris says. Oh that is it. I have reached my boiling point and just as I am about to say there will be no tie shopping today, he looks at me and in his eyes I see the reflection of more than 500 hundred shopping trips in which I have bored him to the point of him falling asleep in a chair with head back and mouth wide open in a chair in the corner of a bookstore. Finding him like that was so amusing that I decided to top it off by gently placing a copy of the Slow Fat Triathlete in his lap for all the world to see. When he woke up, he didn’t find it that funny.
Fine, tie shopping it is.
The tie department, couldn’t be any worse than the shoe department that was filled with one thousand variations of the same black shoe.
Oh it was worse.
Imagine one thousand variations of the same patterned tie. Except this one has circles. And that one has squares. And those lines go vertically. And those lines go the other way. And that one is brown, and….you get the point.
A day later, we have chosen a tie. And I am released with freedom shop in my choice of stores, as far away from shoes and ties that can be.
Lotion, I need lotion, I need my overpriced, smelly lotion fix please. We enter the giant Bath & Body Works, a flagship store that is seriously the size of a large ship sinking with its own heavy scent of fruit, flowers, and freshness.
We walk into the store and suddenly even I - as motivated as I am to spend large sums of money on large tubs of lotion – am stopped dead at the door.
What’s this? Before me, stands….a man? Wearing an apron? A male employee of an overpriced lotion store? All of a sudden something smells, well….fishy.
“Want to try some new Iced Tea Twist Lotion?” he asks a little too exuberantly for a guy wearing an apron standing in front of a door.
I look at him with an out of my way. I’ve been prisoner of male shoe shopping, tied up by male tie shopping, and honestly the last thing I want to see right now is a man standing in the way of my girlie girl lotion store.
“No thanks,” I say, refusing the possible peace offering of new Iced Tea Twist lotion.
“Oh come on, it smells really good,” he pours out, not so convincingly.
I look back at him, I look at the rest of the store. I want him out of my way. I’ve waited too long. He’s being too pushy. And he just doesn’t belong in this store. I don’t want his iced tea. I don’t care if it has a twist. I don’t care if it only costs five dollars.
“I hate iced tea,” I bark back. It was true. I hate iced tea. I don’t understand hot tea so I certainly don’t understand iced tea and having worked in restaurants for many years I especially don’t like people who order iced tea only because it is a bottomless beverage and you end up refilling their glass every 30 seconds with iced tea. They ask for more lemons. Or more sugar. Or a new straw. Or more ice for their tea. I don’t want to drink iced tea and I certainly don’t want to smear it all over my body. I DO NOT LIKE ICED TEA.
Finally, he accepts my snarky snub of the Iced Tea lotion and leaves me alone. I drag Chris through the lotion store searching for something they no longer make and leave lotionless and more than a little disturbed. And on the way out, the man in the apron says to have a good night.
I sneer – OUTLANDER get out of MY lotion store even though I am the one to leave. This store is no place for a man just as black dress shoe shopping is no place for a woman. His presence in this store – a store of froo froo fragrance and other lotiony delights – is so glaringly wrong. It looks wrong, it feels wrong, it sounds wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I want him extracted and gone. Out of the store. You are ruining the only fully female thing that I seem to enjoy these days. Your manliness in a store oozing with woman is making me sick.
Chris asks where else I want to go, and sadly I say home. I’ve had enough of this bizarre trick of a shopping trip. I want to go home. A woman should not shop for man’s things, and a man should not be in a woman’s shopping store. The whole trip was backwards, messed up, wrong. What the hell just happened there?
Perhaps this was punishment for all the times I abandoned Chris in a store while I shopped for myself, perhaps this was payback for years of asking “does this make me look fat/short/small-chested/hippy/thick-ankled/hootchie-mama-ish?”
Or perhaps I should have just pulled out the law of the mall. When Chris first asked, if I wanted to go shopping, I should have just obeyed the law and stuck to my guns that two people, though together and in love, do not belong with one another at the shopping mall.