Somebody once remarked that the biggest difference between men and women was not sexual, it was that women love to shop and men hate it. I would subscribe to that statement as stereotype example #1. There is no blurring of lines here. You need only trot yourself to the local mall to see the looks on downcast, gloomy men and thrilled, excited, and joyful women plowing through the aisles at the latest sale at Macy’s to prove my point. Ugh!! Not exactly my cup of tea.
My style is more like forced to admit a definite need for a particular item; say, a heavy pair of boots for the approaching winter snow storm, or finding a good cheese cutter after the wire of the old one finally broke, ending its fifteen year run of loyal service. Then I’ll head for the Good Will thrift store where I might purchase said items for the reasonable price of three dollars (boots,slightly used) and cheese cutter (pewter) 75 cents. Total shopping time: 25 minutes, and this much time only after careful perusal.
I am the direct opposite of Melanie, who I had previously considered a highly intelligent woman, who a few weeks ago revealed her most shameful and revealing addiction to shopping. And worse, seemingly shopping for fun, for a veritable exercise!
But there are bumps on the road in anybody’s life, and it is not always easy to stay the course. Forced to act in a manner totally out of character. My Waterloo occurred just recently in an aptly named store in the Cape Cod Mall: Olympia. A franchise specializing in selling sporting goods. What else, you might ask. But despite the nature of its dry goods, it is a foreign place to me, since they carry name brands with high and mostly extravagant prices. I wait for the third or fourth user to give them up at their rummage sale someplace, where I can scoop them up for another perfectly good season and few hundred miles more.
However, my daughter Kerry, a self-described excellent shopper and opulently rich as well, had sent me a gift certificate for Christmas from the Olympia in Burlington Vermont to the one at the Cape Cod Mall. For 160 dollars! All this money to spend and it wasn’t even going to take a dent out of my monthly social security check! These are strange new times. And add to this, all the merchandise seems to have clearly been way overpriced for Christmas, because all I could see were "Reduced" signs and "60 per cent off" banners. What? And if they are still making a profit, does that not mean I was a wise man indeed to twiddle my thumbs when I was originally gifted.
First item I bought was a Nike white running cap for (gulp) twenty dollars. This is in direct contrast to the usually stained, non-color coordinated fisherman’s cap that proclaims a Sharky’s Bait & Equipment on the front. This cap advertised that it was aerodynamic, ventilated, and sun resistant. Who knows? Maybe it would shorten my races by a minute or two.
I next moved on to the running tights department. Truth be told, i usually substitute the bottom half of pajamas for my long johns in these wintry days, and nobody knows the difference. And because last year’s Xmas present was silk pajamas from my daughter, I have found pure silk the very best insulation one could find. Particularly, I might breathlessly and daringly add, for thermal protection for "my boys"’ those otherwise hardy male nuggets who shriek in horror from winter’s cold blasts and shrink up behind you-know-what in abject fear. In one swashbuckling motion, I swept a sleek black pair of Adidas form fitters into the basket. I was gaining momentum now, getting into it. They were a mere fifty nine dollars.
Next up was a black and lime green combo jacket/windbreaker/running top by Polo that the sales lady told me I looked "dashing" in. That’s right, that’s the word she used, not "good", or "handsome" or even "studly", but DASHING! Naturally, I had to get it. I was sold! How can you resist an adjective like studly when you’re 71? When i say dashing, I think of Errol Flynn and women swooning all over the stage.
For sixty bucks, it was a steal!
Now let’s see, I still have twenty two dollars. I look around, and my eyes land on Under Armor underwear. What with the Big Brothers organization and coaching, I spend enough time around teenagers to know that this is the brand they currently rave about. It seems to be the latest fad. Why? Because it makes them look so incredibly buff! So sexy! Why else! Why else, particularly, when you can go over to Sears and buy their plain briefs for three-for- ten dollar package. So boring. The advertising words on the side of the Under Armor box read Boxerjocks – six inches. Um, just my size… then "Wicks moisture away from skin;4-way stretch comfort;tag free construction, and that always important clincher, anti-odor technology.
I am sold. And in just one day’s exposure, nineteen dollars seems a trifle to pay for a pair of famous Boxerjocks. Plus their blurb on their television sport ads proclaim "When you need ALL of your game intact." Hmmm…I try them on, look in the mirror,model them a bit, turn this way and that. Whoa!! These are cool! I am tempted to wear them under some tearaway garment, model them for my writing class, but …modesty forbids. Besides, i feel that there is always the risk of the college administrators calling the campus police and reporting that there’s an old man flasher up on the second floor. Creating screams, causing a riot.
Well, I got to admit it. I do like my new clothes. Love them! Who was that forgotten sage that said clothes make the man? Perhaps he wasn’t such a fool afterall.