Monday, December 20, 2010

Outlet Mauled

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I experienced an extremely traumatic event several weeks ago. I am happy to report that no therapy was needed and my recovery has progressed enough that I can now share it without unbearable mental anguish.

It’s not like I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. My son-in-law even warned me about the danger and refused to participate. But although I’ve “been around the block a few times,” as they say, nothing could have prepared me for the horror of a


When we were in Hoboken my wife and daughter invited me to accompany them for some shopping. I saw this as a chance to make a large deposit in the Brownie Point Bank & Trust, an institution from which we men are constantly making withdrawals because in the eyes of our beloved spouses we are constantly screwing up.

A form of “payday loans” is available if one’s account is overdrawn, but the penalties are incredibly high. Once when I found myself reduced to such a position I had to take Cynthia to a Travelling Pants movie to get back in the plus column. Thank God I had a positive balance when both of those dreadful Sex in the City abominations were playing.

So we boarded a bus bright and early and were off on our excursion. Immediately I witnessed a warning sign that filled me with trepidation. Many women had brought along huge rolling suitcases. Uh-oh----.

Now I’ve been to outlet malls before, but never one with overnight accommodations (although I later learned our destination is so gargantuan that several hotels are available nearby for shopaholics who can’t get their fix in a single day). I thus surmised that we were in the company of serious major leaguers. And that I, a rank amateur, was hurtling headlong toward a day of sheer agony.

(Sigh). It all started out promisingly enough. Our first stop was a Banana Republic store, where I came, I saw, and I bought several items in maybe 30 minutes. Meanwhile the ladies were still meandering around and hadn’t even tried on a single item. Yikes.

Finally they disappeared into the dressing rooms and I begrudgingly took a seat on the floor. I hate women’s stores without adequate seating. They are obviously not designed by husbands, who would understand that a happy, comfortable hubby will patiently relax, say, “Uh-huh, that looks great, honey (sound familiar, guys?),” and pull out the plastic after sitting for what feels like, and sometimes actually is, hours.

When my butt was numb and my legs had started going to sleep I hollered, “How much longer?” into the void. “15 minutes!” came the reply. So I went out and wandered around the allotted time, came back and announced my return. “Just 5 more minutes!”

This wasn’t exactly my first rodeo shopping-wise, and I already knew how this was going to unfold. Twenty minutes later when I reappeared at the door and they still had not emerged I said, “That’s it--see you in 2 hours at the food court.”

Set adrift in an ocean of huge stores that mainly catered to women, those 2 hours felt for like 2 days. Aimlessly rifling through racks of stuff you have absolute no interest in is about as stimulating as being stranded in a law library. People-watching among the GP (general public) also holds little appeal; observing the behavior and unique grooming/sartorial styles of the LCD (lowest common denominator) is vastly more entertaining. FYI--this latter group can usually be found at Big Lots and Dollar General.

So we met for lunch as scheduled. After all morning at the mall my short burst of shopping had bagged more items than both the ladies combined. Then we again split up and I was left to my own devices. I wandered; I rifled; I sat. This pattern repeated itself over and over.

The crazy thing is I didn’t visit a multiplex there that could have killed a couple of hours. Eat, Pray, Love—some kid movie in 3-D with no special glasses on—it wouldn’t have mattered. Even now I can’t understand how that happened; I must have by then been in some sort of hypnotic, zombie trance that prevented rational thought.

Later in the day I stumbled into a ginormous Burlington Coat Factory store and did manage to purchase 2 pairs of jeans. There were racks and racks and racks and racks of jeans in no order whatsoever. This would have normally irritated the hell out of me, but I needed new ones and, boy, did I have time. So one by one I searched every single rack for 34x34’s and tried on every single pair I found.

This ridiculous exercise ate up the rest of the time until we reconvened and got out of there. On the bus ride and walk back to our daughter’s apartment I said little. When we got home maybe I ate. Maybe I went straight to bed. I have no idea. I was by this time like a drunk who has mentally passed out but somehow is still semi-functioning.

What I do know is I awoke the next day at 10 o’clock, the longest I’ve slept in since what must have been some serious illness so long ago I can’t recall. My back hurt. My feet were killing me. But the Brownie Point account swelled to such a level that getting too drunk a couple of times since and not even starting my Christmas shopping yet have not thrown me into the red.

Oops. Spoke too soon. Cynthia just “asked” me to go with her to the mall this afternoon. Where are those deposit slips?

1 comment:

David L. Akins said...

How true about the lack of seating for the men who are dragged along. Several years ago I did have the good experience in Fernandina, Florida where I was following Karen to a dress store. Upon entering the shop, the owner came directly to me, took my arm and let me to a chair in the back of the store. She sat me down, gave me a beer and the latest copy of Sports Illustrated. Now that was the best shopping trip I have ever had! If only more store owners had such wisdom.