Last night, I think I bought more clothes for myself at one time than I ever have in my life. Which isn’t saying much. I hate shopping for clothes. I think, possibly, the last things I bought for myself were a couple of those Ralph Lauren polo shirts or those ones with the little alligator on the chest. That could date back to the Reagan administration…
So my wardrobe isn’t what you might call cutting edge. Fortunately, Elaine buys me stuff from time to time, and my aunt and uncle usually send something to wear for birthdays and Christmas, so I don’t look like a poster child for “The Breakfast Club” or “Pretty in Pink.” But my wardrobe was the last thing on my mind, as I spoke on the phone with my bride of fifteen and a half years, the woman I love, the one I joined for almost two weeks in the Caribbean last May for our second honeymoon.
We planned a last minute date. Spontaneously, irresponsibly, throwing all caution to the wind, at 4:15 on a Friday night, we tried to find a babysitter, and GOT one for 5:45. Just the two of us, off to build romance and excitement into the duldrums of January. A movie? Candlelight dinner? Roam around Powell’s Bookstore? Adventure awaited as we pulled out of our driveway, hand in hand.
“Hey! We could go spend your Christmas gift certificate to JC Penney’s!”
Now, why hadn’t I come up with that one?
I turned around (without groaning) and we picked up the gift certificate. We went out for a very nice dinner, actually, and found ourselves walking into Penney’s, with me doing my best to not look mournful.
I noticed these little red signs, that said 70% off original prices. “Probably one rack of loser stuff somewhere in the store,” I thought. But then, we both realized, these signs were all over the place. Everywhere! We headed for the shirts, you know, to replace the alligator ones. Everything’s on sale, everything’s an incredible deal… everything is completely overwhelming. “Just pick stuff for me,” I say. “I always end up liking the stuff you pick anyway.”
I find myself heading to the dressing room time and time again. Elaine’s picking lots of stuff that I would call rust, that she calls burnt orange, that the ubiquitous L.L. Bean catalog that comes every 3 days in our mailbox calls “Cayenne Heather.” And by the first shirt, my mood has changed. I am loving this. I mean, we are getting like these major dealsâ€“you know, $40 shirts for eight bucksâ€“but even better, I come out of the dressing room time and time again, and my wife looks at me…stares at me…smiles, and says, “I love it.”
I mean, come on…I’d do anything to have my wife stare at me and say “I love it,” even if she is just talking about the shirt she picked out…
The haul was unbelievable. Eight nice shirts, two ties, socks, six colored t-shirts; we’re talking a major pile of cotton blends, we’re talking “Extreme Makeover: Closet Edition”. And it’s all on sale! The lady starts ringing the stuff up, and it’s so not right. The first thing scans as $24.99, and I look at her, clear my throat…and she smiles. “Don’t worry, it’ll take it off at the end.” So now it’s like this waiting game, this “how much am I really gonna save here?” game.
Beep. “I wonder if we went over the $150 gift certificate?” (Oops. Did I ruin some gift etiquette thing? Sorry, mom, I’m probably not supposed to spill the beans about how much my present cost, huh? But it’s important for later. And, if anyone else is offended, just forget I said how much.)
Beep. “Man, what if we’re WAY over?”
Beep. “I cannot believe I am buying all these clothes.”
Beep beep beep. Now the lady says the machine has to think. The anticipation is killing me- did we make a killing here? I mean, is this gonna be one of those bragging rights shopping stories of how much we saved? Are we like King and Queen McFrugal? Have we done it? COME ON, WHAT’S THE TOTAL???
I am NOT making this up. Eight little cents over the gift certificate. Eight round, copper Lincoln heads is all we’ve got to cough up for this massive amount of loot. My chest is swelling so much with pride that none of this stuff is even going to FIT anymore. And then it gets better!
“Whoa! Do you realize you guys saved $310.91? That’s amazing!!”
So thanks, mom and dad! Now I don’t have to shop until 2018.