I know that the term “Black Friday” refers to retail balance sheet ink, but for me, it – and every shopping day ’til Christmas represents a blot on existence; a portent of doom; a looming disaster of untold proportions.
Because I have MEN on my Christmas list. A whole passel of them. And while I adore each and every one of them, they are poison to the serious shopper.
Case in point: a recent shopping expedition with son Taylor. There we were at 59th and Lexington, in that great temple to Mammon known as Bloomingdale’s. Their Mens department is roughly the size of a warehouse store, so it seemed like a good place to start with a young man who is still wearing shirts we gave him in high school. (He is perfect in every other way.)
Things started out well. He admitted to needing dress shirts and ties. We elbowed our way through the crowds of people Actually Buying Things to check out the selection in the Theory alcove. Here’s where we discovered one of the fundamental differences between men and women. A woman, upon sighting a possible wardrobe addition, will cradle the garment, sigh deeply and exclaim “I love it!” But a man will approach warily, treating the item as if it might be booby-trapped. And for him, it is, because attached to it is a price tag.
A woman will look at the price tag and possibly flinch for a moment, but has her rationalizations at the ready: “I’ll wear it all the time and amortize the cost”; “The quality is excellent – you get what you pay for”. Or, when all else fails: “I just have to have it”.
A man, at least one who carries genetic matter handed down from my husband, will seize the offending price tag as if it were an IED and fling the item as far away from him as possible to put large amounts of space between him and the threat that might explode his bank account.
Just as I started using my distaff logic to convince Taylor of the merits of having at least one nice shirt (that I would pay for, no less), said husband walks up and spies the shirt in question. You can guess what happens next. Does he look at the cut? Does he evaluate the hand of the fabric? No, he does not. He goes straight for the price tag, and hurls the shirt even further from sight. My only hope at this point is that said shirt has been so badly manhandled that Bloomies will have no choice but to discount it.
Long story short, our shopping trip was a bust. We stopped at a discount store the next day where husband and son loaded up on ties that looked like department store strays from two or three seasons past. They couldn’t have been happier. It was all about the decimal point on the price tag.
Back in my element on the West Coast, I can solve the price problem with a visit to the Theory outlet in Camarillo. But I can’t solve the bigger problem, which is the predictably desultory Annual Conversation.
Me: (to Taylor, Daniel or the CE) “So, any thoughts on what you’d like for Christmas?”
Them: “Nope”. Or variation: “I don’t need anything”. Or variation from the CE : (spoken loudly and in an enraged tone) “I don’t want anything! DO NOT waste money on presents for me!”
Once, just once, I wish I had the courage to follow through on this and see how that plays out Christmas morning with nothing under the tree but three big lumps of coal for my men.
The problem is compounded when you consider that the list does not end with husbands and sons. There is a brother-in-law, sons-in-law, a nephew, and male friends, some just as sartorially Amish as my beloved spouse (yes, Kirk, I’m talking to you.) They are all in line to receive the Worst Christmas Gift Ever:
Or maybe I’ll splurge. Headlamps and Jack-a-lopes for everyone.
Deck the halls and happy shopping!