I agreed to the Bos Lady’s suggestion the other night that we go shopping. Christmas shopping. Seemed a bit of a necessity at this time of year with the gifting season almost upon us. Too bad that I committed before the good lady mentioned our designated destination: West Edmonton Mall — the place shunned by all born-and-bred RiverCityites and Edmontonians of landed immigrant status. But D’oh! I was locked in.
There are those shoppers who believe WEM’s acres and acres of shops and services are the greatest thing since wax on / wax off hair removal or Ron Popiel’s pocket fisherman. I am not one of those consumers. I don’t think that trudging along WEM’s endless halls are a good walk spoiled — no, it’s beyond that. I think when the Bos Lady and I are trudging along that I could rather be pacing myself through that rugged physical fitness regimen favoured by most every middle-aged man: napping.
But I keep those thoughts to myself (it’s safer that way) as I smile at the Bos Lady and say, “Oh now, Hon’, how could I be sick of shopping already? It’s been only two hours.” And so we move along, past a hundred stores, a thousand. Soon they all seem alike, as if we are passing a looped collection of shops like Fred Flinstone running through an endless home past the same furniture and the same window over and over and over again. Soon, I don’t even recognize shops — everything is blurred like so many mirages — and I’m reminded of the Israelites wandering the desert and I wonder if my shoes will wear out.
Soon I have nothing left. I am spent, a shadow of the man I was when we parked. I beg the Bos Lady to go on without me — I don’t want to slow you down, dear; go, get help! — but she misunderstands and says, “Yes, let’s split up. Text you when I’m done and we’ll meet where we came in.”
So I am forced to shop. Or face the wrath of the Bos Lady should I meet her again with empty hands.
I have no idea what to get her. She has given me ideas: clothes, cosmetics, wool. I don’t know that women understand the stress men are under when they’re asked to shop for these feminine articles. Cosmetics, for example. if guys have to buy a bottle of nail polish for their lady, they’re hoping for a highly efficient tactical strike: stake out the target from the perimeter, be wary of collateral damage, move in, grab the mark, and get out-out-out! But it doesn’t work that way. No, the lady wants a certain brand and a particular colour and, oh crap!, there are a bazillion colours and brands. Weren’t the ancient Egyptians happy with the three primary colours? Wow, “you’ve come a long way, baby”.
The worst is when men think we know exactly what we’re doing and precisely what we need. I know a young man who completed a tactical strike in record time, coming out of the fray with his right hand upraised in a V-for-victory sign while his other hand held aloft a beauty appliance for hair. He was high-steppin’ it!
“Found what you were looking for?” a female clerk asked rhetorically.
“Oh yeah!” the young man exclaimed. “Got the exact hair straightener I needed to get.”
“Good for you!” the clerk responded cheerily before adding, “You know that’s a curling iron, right?”
Some shops aren’t just an uncomfortable environment for men. Some are downright intimidating. I walked past the Victoria’s Secret store in WEM and thought for a nanosecond about whooshing in and out for a pair of pajama pants for the Bos Lady. But then I caught an eyeful in the buxom Victoria poster girl with her secrets practically falling out and I thought, Nope, this is no place for the Bosman!
Then there’s Old Navy, the store with all the old mannequins that greet you silently at the entrance. I think Old Navy shoplifted the idea from Wal-Mart but that’s just a guess. I know that the Old Navy mannequins give some people the creeps. They can’t explain it; they just get the willies when they walk by them. To each their own, I say. Some people have issues with mannequins. Some have a problem with clowns. And some have hang-ups about cross-dressing Santa Clauses in fishnet stockings and push-up man bra’s. Go figure.
I quickly exited Old Navy after seeing the 30 or so people standing like so many mannequins and shequins in the long line at the tills.
I opted for some quick-strike gift cards at London Drugs and hailed a rickshaw to return to Entrance 23 and the Bos Lady.
Shopping during the Christmas season: challenging. Shopping at West Edmonton Mall: Oh yabbadabbadoo.