There are a few sentences that no man wants to hear from his partner. “Does my bum look big in this?” as she tries on a new dress, “maybe we could watch a romantic comedy?” as you queue up in front of the cinema or “could you just pick me up some tampons at the shop.” But the four words that strike the fear of God into me are “let’s go clothes shopping.”
I think that I have successfully avoided shopping for clothes for around five years. Thanks mostly to Amazon, my wife shopping for me and my general lack of excitement when it comes to buying new clothes and therefore hanging on to old clothes until they literally fall apart.
I much preferred being a six-year-old when my mother would buy all my clothes. Yes, I am not someone who is financially supporting the fashion companies.
When it comes to clothes I’m an old-school male. But need must. So last weekend I didn’t go Christmas shopping, but shopping for Christmas. Thankfully, I have a shopping centre on my doorstep which is exactly the right size for my demands. I’ve never been a fan of those huge shopping malls, if you’re not a shopper at heart then bigger isn’t better.
It’s not that I’m a scrooge, in fact quite the opposite. I have two rules when shopping for a new wardrobe, speed and quality. I get in and get out.
“What’s that?” said my wife as I pulled a piece of paper from my pocket in the first shop. “My shopping list,” I answered. “We’re not here to buy pet food, potatoes and aluminium foil, but clothes,” she laughed.
So this is another example where men differ from women. Men are hunters and women are gatherers. We have a defined goal, whether that is to drag back a deer to feed the family in a cave or to buy clothes.
Yes, I had a shopping list. T-Shirt x 2, jumper x 2, socks x 6, belt x 1, you get the idea. I find no joy whatsoever wandering aimlessly around a clothes shop looking for something that catches my eyes. And I wonder if you girls spend as much time browsing when you’re shopping online, probably yes, I guess. I’m told you find it relaxing, almost therapeutic. As the American comedian Elayne Boosler once said “When women are depressed, they eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It's a whole different way of thinking.” She could be right.
“Oh, that’s a nice shirt,” exclaimed my wife. “Yes, but there’s no shirt on my shopping list,” I smiled. I stumbled into the jumper section. Boom and boom! I had two jumpers in my basket in the time it takes for Usain Bolt to reach the finishing line. I shop as if I’m on a mission to set a world speed record.
“Aren’t you going to try them on?” I heard from the shirt section. “I’m medium and this tag says M. So there’s no need,” I answered. I’ve always thought that the changing rooms in stores are badly organised. Normally there are the same amount of cubicles for men and women, that’s bad planning. There’s always a queue outside the ladies changing rooms whilst the men’s are empty. Instead of putting four for men and four for women, give the women three of the men’s, seven to one seems a better balance.
The absolute maximum a man will do is to hold up the trousers in front of him to make sure they aren’t too long. I had completed almost my whole list and my wife was still browsing in the shirt section.
“Right now time for shoes,” I shouted towards my wife as I left the clothes shop with my bags loaded down.
Of course, there are sometimes problems with the shopping list system. Especially when your wife writes “shampoo” and you find yourself in front of a plethora of shampoos of all shapes and sizes. Curly hair, wavy hair, dry hair, greasy hair, coloured hair, WTF! “What kind of hair does your wife have?” once asked a shop assistant who could obviously see it out of my depth. “Errr, black,” I stumbled to find an answer. Men’s shampoo on the other hand is basically based around the size of the bottle.
With my Christmas clothes shopping done we got back to the car to find it was still warm inside, “look, another reason why a man shopping is better,” I joked to my wife. Although she had the perfect comeback with “speed isn’t always that important.”
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