Dragging my feet I reluctantly followed my lady wife into the shopping mall. In my imagination a portal overhead with a curved sign: ‘All Men who Enter Here Ye are Doomed.’ Outside a department store, like rows of birds on garden parapets, were perched dispirited men. Eventually, their nearest and dearest, blinking in the sunlight, would emerge from the darkest bowels of the clothes shed. I know how these men felt for I was sat there for the same reason.
An hour or so later I dejectedly traced the footsteps of my empty-handed but otherwise never-say-die wife to the C & A store, aka ‘coats and ‘ats’. Once inside I chanced upon a single forlorn gentleman. He might well have wished he was single. To his credit he had at least bagged the store’s only seat. “Keep your husband moving, ma’am. We are stock-taking.”
It is not for me to rain on young men’s parades. However, it did occur to me that the newly betrothed might be under the illusion that their wife’s indecisiveness when shopping suggests they pulled the short straw. Those of us on wife two or three, regret to inform you that they are all the same; live with it. If you find one that says she doesn’t like shopping you can wipe the stupid grin off your face. You haven’t landed on your feet, you have married a liar. Most of us men consider shopping as depressing as a burning orphanage. Yet, our loved ones persist in trying to change us.
The hapless bunch of planners and architects, who spend millions in their search for the Holy Grail of customer appeal, come up with many seductive lures. Early on, they hit on the idea of providing crèche and play areas. There’s occasional street theatre to provide shopping mall distraction. Each year, as we approach the anniversary of a wandering vagrant’s birth, these gurus from hell festoon the malls with Christmas glitz to pay homage to the great god Mammon.
Stores and shopping malls are for women what football, or at least sports bars are, to men. When will these planners have the wit to come up with something to bait the menfolk? Is it because this is a challenge too far? To attract and keep the men interested, even enthusiastic, might I suggest shopping malls with a scattering of sleazy bars, each with pool tables, staffed with well-proportioned barmaids, and patronised by dodgy blokes doing deals. This would have the effect of transforming wives into husbands.
Rapier-like, the skirts would sweep through the clothing stores. Making a beeline to the apparel closest to their needs, the ladies would grab the first thing that comes to hand. Jumping the checkout queue, purses at the ready, they would be out of the store doors as quick as a pit-stop team changes a Ferrari wheel. It is the way we men do it.