I used to sneer at those women who dressed their husbands. What were they – control freaks? Were the men too bone-lazy to buy their own clothes? Now I understand.
One day, not long ago, he came downstairs ready to go (in his eyes) to wherever we were headed. He had on his beloved cargo pants, which now have fringe at the hem, not from any fashion statement, but from the fact that as the day wears on, so do the hems against the ground. He was also wearing his hiking shoes, which I had bought him for his birthday three or four years ago. These had been a wild success. Such a success they’ve been worn to the point where the fabric inserts between the leather trim strips now have a festive, fluffy look where the material has come unstitched and is unraveling.
We began Saturday with a soothing trip to buy mums and pumpkins, something we do every fall. He loves buying pumpkins. So far, so good.
We followed this with a trip to Costco where I replenished my stock of Glucosomine & Chondroitin, picked up a hefty plastic container of blueberries, and a three-month supply of chicken broth. Lunch was hot dogs and soda at the plastic picnic tables inside the store, not exactly fine dining, but a steal at $3.19 for the whole meal. He really, really likes having hot dogs there.
Now that I’d lulled him into a state of trusting acquiescence, I steered the car to the next shopping center, home of the local Designer Shoe Warehouse, a barn-like store filled with guess what, and clerks that leave you alone. He was inside before he knew what had hit him.
With self-denial that would make Ghandi proud, I turned my back on the women’s section and marched the two of us directly to the men’s department. Amazingly, as I scouted out possibilities and brought my discoveries to him, he willingly tried on shoe after shoe. This is a man who never, EVER, tries on clothes in a store, assuming that if it says it’s his size, it must be. I’ve learned this is common to members of this gender, and it makes me wonder how on earth cross-dressers manage with the epic vagaries of women’s sizing.
We were doing pretty well, and while we were unable to find replacements for his threadbare hiking shoes, we did succeed with something that would qualify as dressy sneakers, a breakthrough since his “good” sneakers more often than not are on his feet when he’s mowing the lawn. And it shows.
Okay, shoe box in hand, we drifted to the clearance section. Usually, this is where all the truly weird shoes end up. In the women’s section this means silver cowboy boots, or high-heeled red sneakers. However, this time we found a very presentable pair of casual Italian loafers. He tried them on, and his face lit up. He was in love.
This was not good, because I knew that in his world, rational people only bought one pair of shoes at a time. Anything more was just hedonistic craziness. I also knew that the odds of getting him in a shoe store again in the near future was as likely as Donald Trump taking a vow of silence.
I could see those hard-won sneakers slipping away.
I pointed out that since the loafers were on the clearance rack, they were 30% off. I reminded him that he’d said that the sneakers were a good fit in both the width and length. He replied, yes, but he wasn’t in love with them, the way he was with this other, wonderful, glorious pair.
Somehow, through a sales pitch that would make a used car dealer proud, I got us to the register. I pulled out the DSW $10 off coupon I’d been hording since September and with barely a whimper, handed it to the teenager at the register.
The deal was sealed.