Every December Dearly Beloved and I go to The Cheesecake Factory at the nearby mall for a Christmas lunch and to see the mall decorations. That last part is tricky because technically, since The Cheesecake Factory’s entrance is outside the mall, he has, on occasion, tried to weasel out of actually stepping inside the mall proper.
DB dislikes any shopping but take him inside a mall and by comparison, Jack Nicholson in The Shining seems like Santa Claus. The khakis and jeans he wears daily are not shabby chic, but ragged. He wears the same tired pants that he walks the dog in whenever he takes me out to eat and even on trips. It isn’t that he doesn’t have more, it’s… well, who understand Martians’ reasoning?!
I’ve been telling him for some time that he needed some new casual pants and each time he says, “Get me some next time you’re out shopping.”
Sure. As soon as they start selling them at the supermarket.
Finally, Senior Day at one of the large department stores, not to mention the extra discounts for their cardholders was enticing enough that he agreed to go. We could even have our Christmas lunch while we were there.
Ahhh!! I e-mailed our daughters that their dad was going to the mall with me. Willingly. A whine-free excursion!
There are at least five department stores and many shops in this large mall, but I knew that one-store shopping was going to be as much as I could count on for his good intentions to last.
I over-estimated his good humor. We’d barely walked out of the parking garage when he announced:
“I’m not trying any pants on. Let’s just get them and you can bring them back if they don’t fit.”
I stopped in my tracks and glared at him.
“I told your children this was the one day when you’d go shopping with me without being a turd and you have already blown it.
He looked momentarily chastened.
“How about if I am a good sport the second we step through the door?”
I was adamant.
“I don’t think so. We’ll come another time for our Christmas lunch. Without the jackass.”
As soon as he stepped inside the store, he stuck his hands in his pockets–the international signal of Husband in Distress. He moseyed around, showing no interest except to occasionally offer his opinion to other guys trying on clothes, telling one man why he shouldn’t buy the vest he was trying on. (That was the point I began watching for Store Security.)
As we rounded the Ralph Lauren section, we heard a woman telling her husband, “The pants are TOO LONG!”
DB stopped and assessed the scene, then told the guy, “Those pants fit you perfectly. That slight bend in the length is exactly what you want.”
The man’s wife scowled. (I don’t know if it’s relevant, but let me mention here that the woman was using a walker and had an oxygen tube in her nostrils. She may not have been using either when they first arrived.)
DB continued meandering, but signed, “I’m just not feeling it.”
“That’s because pants are not going to jump into your arms. Take your hands out of your pockets, ask a salesperson, and get in there and find what you need.”
I felt like a football coach.
The salesperson he found was already working with another man so sullen and unpleasant to his trying-to-be-helpful wife that I’d have thought the poor woman must have held a gun on him to get him there, except that by now she would surely have fired it.
But back to my Prince Charming…. When the salesperson turned to him, he said, “My wife thinks I need some new britches.”
“DB, they haven’t been BRITCHES since you were six years old.”
People around us were were beginning to giggle and stare. He told her in a stage whisper, “She called me a JACKASS.” A bit more of his “long-suffering” humor and–I’m not kidding–the poor sales woman, snorting with laughter, put her head down on the counter as she pounded her fist and gasped, “You’re killing me!”
Finally, after she helped him find two pairs of pants and a cashmere sweater that he liked, he asked me hopefully, “Are we through?”
Nope. I decided we’d have one more stop. We rode the escalator to the third floor: Ladies’ Lingerie.
“I’ll just find place to sit down,” he said, assuming there would be a “man chair” around.
I browsed through the department and eventually made a purchase, then headed back to find him. I spotted a store mannequin in a set of lacy black bikini bra and undies, posed seductively on one of those short platforms stores use. Sitting on the platform, his head about crotch level to the mannequin, was my Dearly Beloved.
We didn’t have our Christmas lunch or go out into the mall to see all the holiday decorations that day. Guess we’ll schedule another outing very soon.
I can hardly wait.