I took the boy child shopping today at the urging of [My Attorney] who saw there was a sale at Kohl’s and insisted we go buy snow boots.
I don’t hate shopping but I manshop which means I go in alone, unaided, unprotected, a solitary soldier with an objective and a deadline. I learned long ago that I have no real style so I stick with the classics and never deviate: white shirts, black or khaki pants, no prints, no visible branding, no logos. I know my size and I know where to go and I shop during the day when the pros are at work.
[My Attorney] can close her eyes and visualize any shirt as it would appear on the kids. It’s her super power. If she were on Heroes she’s defeat Silar by fitting him for winterwear for three hours until he caved and begged for mercy. She can buy a suit off the rack and it will fit me like it was tailored in Shanghai. She’s like the terminator–only for clothes.
I am not. I had the actual boy with me today who actually tried on the clothes and stood in front of me wearing the actual shirt and we looked at each other and couldn’t figure out if it fit or not.
“Is it too big?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is it too small?”
“Is it a small or a medium?”
And the boy isn’t exactly in it to win it. Here we are willing to drop a deuce on duds and he steps off the escalator, surveys the second floor and says “Everything here is gay.”
Being that I end up in the stores with the moms most of the time, I have learned by carefully concealed observation how to find the stuff that appears to not be in stock. I’ve learned there is no such thing as sold out, that with enough arms-crossed-lethal-glare ground holding, one can make a befuddled stocking clerk hang by his nails in the rafters to look on top of the office roof and find a discarded pair of Totes Snowcaps size 8 that somehow got left there last winter and are now 80% off. I can do this.
Take today: Your average dad would take a quick look at the boxes stacked underneath the boots we wanted, see that they are all 9s and 11s and walk away satisfied that they don’t stock 8s. I, however, am married to SHOPZILLA and, like a Spartan, I either come back with my sale item or draped across it, dead from multiple stab wounds. So I removed the entire wall of 9s and 11s, re-stacked them along the aisle, and lo, there in the back, were 8s and 14s. As soon as I had the pair I wanted, a herd of mothers spontaneously assembled behind me and bought everything I’d uncovered.
Using her super ninja shopzilla armor piercing sale-radar, [My Attorney] realized I had the boots in hand but was walking out before looking at shirts and pants so she called me and ordered me to drag the boy child through the shirts until something stuck.
We walked around the corner and he reminded me that ‘everything here is gay’ and I reminded him that people who say everything is gay are gay and he said I was working off some kind of repression and I mentally threw him down the up escalator. Physically, I made him try on mauve colored sweater vests until he realized I was just messing with him. Still, not one t-shirt made the bill excepting the “Chuck Norris” shirt which was too small. Everything else? Gay. He walked out with a belt buckle and a belt and a knit hat and a dapper gray button up.
In the parking lot, it was already snowing. The boy had elected not to put on his jacket because it was simply too much work. Now a mom would’ve busted his chops and made him suit up. But a dad is born with a sink-or-swim mentality that won’t let us do that. I asked him once, he said no, I said fine. On the way in, it was still light out and he managed to just make it into the store before he shivered. But when we left? Black as night, falling snow, slight breeze and I had the keys. I made that trip across the parking lot in baby steps, talked on the phone, dropped my keys, asked him if he left his coat in the store. By the time I squelched the doors, he was blue and shivering.
“People who say nope are gay.”
“Shut up, dad.”
“People who are cold are gay.”
“People who say shut up are gay.”