I understand that men who like shopping do exist, but I have yet to meet one.
The old man is not what you’d describe as a male fashionista. He buys clothes when he needs them and for no other reason than body coverage. Clothes are functional. He doesn’t care about fashion or trends or frankly, what he looks like.
I am lucky if he commits to one shop per year. If I am fortunate enough to get him into a mall, he can buy everything he needs for the next twelve months within ten minutes. ‘Browsing’ and ‘window-shopping‘ are not words he comprehends. He never buys a lot, because a) he is an accountant with associated tight-arse sensibilities and b) he would wear the same outfit every day if society let him.
One of his work friends told me the other day that he owned in the region of 150 office shirts. When I told him that the old man has five, he blanched. If I allowed the old man to carry on wearing his baggy pink sweatshirts, high-waisted jeans and hightop runners from the 80’s, he would.
The annual shopping trip has to be prepared for rigorously. It has to be booked at least two months in advance so that he can mentally prepare for it. During that time he will convince himself several times that he doesn’t actually need anything and attempt to back out.
Surely his one pair of old jeans are fine for another year, he will try to justify.
He did try on-line shopping once – a few months ago when I inadvertently dyed all five office shirts pink in the wash. It seemed the obvious solution for him at the time. The process was relatively stress-free until the new shirts didn’t turn up on time, then two batches arrived at once, (rather like buses), so he had the torture of having to return one set to the UK which involved finding the local Post Office – can you imagine the horror?
When he finds ‘his’ shop, he is loyal to it. He is a committed one-stop shopper.
Last Sunday he was forced to add a second shopping event to his very busy weekend diary of sport versus naps because he needed snow boots for Thredbo – (for the ski trip that he forced on the family but due to his recent wrangle with the courtyard steps he can no longer actually participate in because he is under doctor’s instructions not to ski).
I had in mind some nice waterproof Ugg boots for him for his morning walks in the mountains (scheduled before his first nap of the day); he had firmly decided on some cheap Target work boots. True, Ugg boots are in the region of $200 but they would probably have lasted him a lifetime; the Target $29 work boots will last him this holiday.
But he could not physically part with $200 for a pair of boots – the ensuing physical and mental anguish would simply be too much, especially as he is still recovering from his recent dice with death.
You see, any money we spend is allocated to the ‘retirement’ spreadsheet and every item of what he deems ‘unnecessary’ spending is like a dagger straight through his heart. Expenditure, such as my hairdressing costs, the kids extra-curricular activities, Kurt’s medications and medical bills and Nerd Child’s academic books all fall into this category. Ugg boots would be thrown into the ‘Shamefully Wasteful’ column.
My anxiety levels began to mount as soon as we entered the mall. Even though the mall is home from home for me, the old man’s malaise is infectious.
We raced through the crowds of relaxed Sunday shoppers on a mission to complete our purchases well within the first hour of our free parking time – a first for me. Mothers and children were forced to part as the old man marched through them, his eyes firmly set on Target, his shopping mantra still ringing in my ear of ‘a quick shop is a good shop’.
He was paying for his work boots ten minutes later. Great, I thought, that gives us time to buy the new heater we need.
Woman logic. (Have I ever mentioned that logic often deserts me in shopping malls?)
‘We could get the new heater while we’re here,’ I ventured nonchalantly.
‘Why? I’m not cold.’
‘But we are.’
‘Hmmmmph! (Much eye-rolling, looking to the ceiling, teeth-grating, clenching of fists – you get the picture).
I hurried off in the direction of Harvey Norman without looking back at him in case he could smell my fear. Eventually I heard the distinctive dragging of his fifteen year old boating shoes behind me, like some resistant toddler. (Yes, he is still wearing boating shoes; and no, we don’t have a boat).
Did you know that ‘heating’ is actually quite a complex subject and can be quite scientific in its detail? (There is now the complication of balancing heat output with cost and carbon footprint).
So there I was, under-researched, flailing amongst a bed of assorted heaters that all looked the same with the old man giving me ‘that’ look. So I resorted to ‘phoning a friend’ – Nerd Child.
Meanwhile the old man slowly became more and more agitated as Nerd Child and I discussed the ruminations of wattage and cost, and he began rubbing his forehead fiercely – (the warning sign of one of his middle-age shopping tanties). Unsatisfied by NC’s logic, I then decided to consult Google for further information, at which point the old man let out a loud roar, briskly turned on his heel and left.
So this is what I have learned about shopping with men who don’t shop:
Going shopping with my (other) two men (DSC02536) by King of Monks at http://www.flickr.com