The Joy of Shopping!

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’d 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?”

Um, uh”

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.

You cold?”


Peo­ple who say nope are gay.”

Shut up, dad.”

Peo­ple who are cold are gay.”


Peo­ple who say shut up are gay.”

Shut Up!”


About Bull Garlington

Christopher Garlington is the humor columnist for Chicago Parent magazine, Seattle Parent Map, and New York Parenting magazine. His stories have appeared in Atlanta Parent, Baton Rouge Parent, Parenting ABC (U.K.); Florida, Orlando, Orlando Weekly, Catholic Digest, Retort, Another Realm, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and other magazines. He is the author of the infamous anti-parenting blog, Death By Children; co-author of The Beat Cop’s Guide to Chicago Eats.

  • Sherry

    Thank you for get­ting my day off to such a great start .. I laughed out­right!! And I DO like your style. ;)

    I don’t have boys .. only 2 (now grown) girls .. and I am NOT sorry to leave them to their own lit­tle shop­ping rit­u­als. O_o

    Well .. I do still shop with the youngest from time to time .. often on 4 hour excur­sions to 1 store .. watch­ing the staff cater to her every sweet whim .. and always dread­ing that moment when she wants me to play “What do you think of this … ?” Because I NEVER get the answer right!! O_o