22 March 2010

Man Go Shops, Feel Bad

My Beloved took me shopping on Saturday, an event that always fills me with dread.  Don't get me wrong, I don't mind shopping per se - as long as it's for electrical gadgets or shiny discs with music or games on, and as long as it fits the male shopping model (stalk your prey, make the kill, go home).  It's shopping for clothes that I hate, specifically clothes for me.  Shopping with my Beloved for clothes for me can be especially stressful.

There are two problems.  The first is that the shopping agenda is kept hidden and gets revealed in stages only as the event is in progress.  The second is that I have only a stunted and malformed dress-sense.  Let me explain what I mean.

I think we are going shopping for, say, a pair of new trousers.  I feel peace and harmony all around once the selection has been made and the agony is presumably over.  The coffee shop is in view, and the expedition has been a success.  My Beloved restores the gloom with one sentence, or even the initial fragment of it, 'While I've got you here, you need...'

On one occasion, searching for a new top coat, I tried on a shop-full until we found one that I didn't look completely stupid in.  There was not one in my size but there were other shops that stocked the same brand.  'Good,' I thought, 'at least we've narrowed the field.'  In the next shop, I found that the whole project had been rewound to the start because not only did the shop stock coats of the type we had settled on but also a whole range of other brands we had not yet seen.  O Joy!

As for dress-sense, well I grew up in the 50s and 60s, the son of a car-worker.  Whilst we were not exactly poverty-stricken, there was not a great deal of spare cash around.  As far as I remember, I had one school uniform, one set of best clothes, and one pair of jeans and a couple of tee-shirts for playing in.  I had one pair of good shoes and one pair of pumps (a cheap and unimpressive precursor to the trainer).  As for underwear and socks, I don't remember how many sets I had except that there were not enough for one a day.  Consequently, I developed a very utilitarian view of clothing.  Not only that, because of my less-than-hunky figure, things that I think look good on the hanger always look ridiculous on me.  I am Mr Average.  You'd think shopping would be easy....

Fashion has never made its mark on me.  Looking around the store on Saturday, I can only say that is not an entirely bad thing.  I saw racks of brand new jeans on sale for £65 and in a state that I would describe as ready for throwing out, having already been relegated to gardening or working under the car in.  Sixty-five pounds!  Would anyone like to buy my old jeans?  They are 36-regular and have genuine, authentic holes and stains, not your artificial, Designer ones.  One not-so-careful owner.  Make me an offer.

My Beloved however, has excellent dress-sense.  She is always well-coordinated and often complemented on her appearance (sometimes by me, when I notice).  This in itself is a good thing because I can count on her buying me good stuff.  It's also a bad thing because most things that I point out whilst shopping meet with disdain.

Anyway, on Saturday, we adopted a new approach.  I asked her to declare up front what we were going to buy so that I could set myself up for the campaign and not lose heart at an unforeseen extension of hostilities.  We also started with coffee and a doughnut.  Then we stuck to the plan, and bought a pair of Designer jeans that looked as though they had just been made from recently-woven material, and a pair of shoes that even I think look great and actually fit (don't get me started on shoes!). 

We did go into one unplanned shop to review a few ideas about decor (which I didn't mind because no decision was necessary and my Beloved is also superb with interior decoration).  Then we went home to watch the Six Nations rugby.  Result.  Win-win, even.  Although not for England.