A Day of Torture

I endured hours of torture last night. I accompanied three women—my wife, her sister and my teenage daughter—shopping for clothes to wear to a wedding this weekend. As they shopped for the perfect dress (and, of course, the shoes to match), I realized that Tiger Woods probably has it easier at home than I did that night in the mall.

As we trudged from store to store, navigated rack after rack of dresses, skirts and tops, I endured countless examples of self-depreciating comments from one (and sometimes all) of my companions and I waited, and waited, and waited some more through the entire try-on process as well as the analysis and recap that followed each fitting. I’m pretty sure that ESPN’s entire post-game recap of the Super Bowl didn’t last as long as the discussions of fabric, style and color.

At least ESPN has commercial breaks. Shopping went on and on. I’m pretty sure that I wore completely through the carpet outside several of the changing rooms as I paced back and forth.

I counted ceiling tiles. I memorized the serial numbers on the few dollar bills I had left in my wallet. I think I heard the same song on the piped-in music four times.

At one point, I spied leaning across the clearance rack a fellow prisoner—I mean, husband—as he also endured the wait. As he slowly raised his hand to acknowledge my presence, I saw that he’d been waiting even longer. The cobwebs surrounding him were plentiful and thick. I nodded my head slightly, utilizing the subtle chin lift that said, “Buddy, I’m with you. I feel your pain.”  I could hear his wife talking to him from behind the dressing room door, but I am pretty certain her conversation wasn’t registering. He had that glazed-over look and I saw him nod and mumble, “Uh-huh,” in a way that I’m sure my wife is very familiar with.

I bet he was wondering the same two things I was: One, when will this ever end? (By that time, I was certain that I could feel my toenails growing through my shoes); and, two, why don’t the big retailers get it? If there are shopping malls in heaven, I’m sure that there will be comfortable, nice waiting areas designed for men by men near the women’s dressing rooms. You know, areas with a big screen TV and video games, pizza and hot wings along with magazines featuring names including words such as auto, sports or outdoor.

Retailers should look at it from my perspective: If I can sit in a comfortable chair watching football or reading about cars, I’m happier. And if I’m happier, I’m more apt to not complain when my wife spends money, and if I don’t complain, she’ll probably spend more.

Not only that, but if I can relax while she shops, I’m more inclined to go with her—spending quality time, you might say. I’m sure it would be good for our relationship. I am willing to suggest that comfy seats outside of the dressing rooms could be the key to fixing so many of the struggling marriages in our nation. Heck, I’ll bet there’s a Nobel Peace Prize waiting for the retail big-shot who implements this plan! Sure, the store will have give up a few feet of merchandise, but aren’t happy and patient men worth it? Letting us park on our bottoms will be good for your bottom line.

Until then, I’ll just follow along and wait and long for the perfect shopping trip while they continue to look for the perfect dress.

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