Carolyn White: Living the Good Life 2-7-11
Last month I went shopping in Grand Junction, Colo., with two girlfriends. Laughing and talking the entire afternoon, we searched for bargains in secondhand shops; browsed in a bookstore; lingered over lunch; and then loaded up on groceries before heading home. It was a totally different experience from a previous trip, to the Mall. Maybe that time, I shouldn’t have taken my husband.
Reasoning that he could check out the guy stuff while I browsed for some shoes to wear to a wedding, I’d invited him to go along, but with a warning. “I’m not going to stop until I find the perfect pair,” I’d said as we were climbing into the car. “I know EXACTLY what I’m looking for.” The problem was, he didn’t. Right from the start, my plan backfired when, instead of wandering off on his own, Frank opted to follow me. The distraction was immediate since I tend to walk very briskly while he rarely goes faster than a stroll. “C’mon, honey,” I urged as he began to lag further and further behind.
“I’m coming.” His pace didn’t change, however, so I was forced to slow down. He caught up with me shortly after I’d entered the first shoe store. It was difficult to concentrate while he lingered impassively at my shoulder, so I gave up after just a few minutes. Again, he took his time in following.
I paused at the entrance to the second place, pointing towards a stool. “Frank, wouldn’t it be easier for you to wait right there?”
“I need to try things on. You might find it kind of boring …”
A few of the sales ladies shot half-sympathetic, half-concerned looks in my direction as we breezed by each display. Eventually, I left empty-handed with Frank tailing me like a bodyguard.
Several more unproductive stops later, I switched tactics, pretending to sniff the air. “Yum! There’s a food court close by. Aren’t you hungry?”
Silly me, I shouldn’t have fixed him such a large breakfast. I tried again. “How ’bout we buy a magazine? You could relax and read it while I’m busy.”
“I don’t mind helping you look.”
“Is THAT what you call this?” I thought, increasing my speed. We made it halfway through the giant building in record time, missing additional opportunities along the way. Nearly frantic for some alone time – where I could completely concentrate on the search for shoes – I paused outside a men’s department store, suggesting, “Want to check this out?”
“Naw, I don’t need anything.”
“Are you sure? Socks? Coveralls?”
Groaning inwardly, I pressed on. Eventually, we ended up in a variety store that had an electronics section. “You are BOUND to find something in HERE!” I encouraged. “Go ahead! I’ll meet you over by that giant, boot sale sign.” Like a toddler getting shoved outside to play in the rain, he unenthusiastically wandered off. Not 10 minutes later, however, just as I was blissfully fondling a pair of silver-sequined sandals, he appeared again. His hands were in his pockets, a sure indication that he was getting bored. “You’re back,” I observed weakly. “Nothing got your attention, huh?”
“Depends on how much I can spend.”
“What is it you want?”
“A wide screen plasma TV?” He raised his eyebrows hopefully.
I snorted. “Let’s stick with the shoes for today.” Reluctantly, the sandals were returned to the rack.
Shortly afterwards, as luck would have it, we stumbled across a fairly luxurious lounging area. Practically shoving Frank down into an armchair in front of a satellite news station, I said firmly “Give me 20 minutes” and scurried off. Well aware that the clock was ticking, I practically jogged through what remained of the mall – so intently that other shoppers swerved out of my way. Still, it was no use. The thrill of the hunt was gone. Silently admitting defeat, I returned to my husband who, showing more animation that he had in years, leapt up so quickly that he nearly knocked me over.
Totally exhausted and nursing a headache, I stared out the window during the drive home and promised myself that I’d never, ever take Frank shopping with me again. We’d barely pulled into the driveway before a neighbor stopped by and, upon hearing where we’d been, proceeded to tease my spouse about how much money he’d lost. “None,” he replied proudly. “My wife is the only woman I know who can shop all day without buying a thing.”
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