To my dear wife:
I love you. I am very lucky to have you. Flowers and ice cream and foot rubs to you. That said,
1. I do not like shopping. This will not be changing. Please accept it as a charming quirk, the way I accept that you will never figure out which direction North is in our hometown, even after we have lived there for 10 years and I have repeatedly pointed out that North is where the big pointy mountains are.
2. Whatever small satisfaction, even up the near edge of enjoyment, that I can derive from shopping for clothes for myself is spoiled when you shop with me. Your running commentary on the clothes I might pick out — clothes suited to my somewhat conservative style — harshes my mellow. No, I will not try out that shirt. That shirt is, to my eyes, ugly and garish. I would not wear that shirt even if I were trying to attract and seduce a schizophrenic surrealist homosexual on a Disney cruise. I like this button down blue shirt here. I respect that you do not want to wear the French maid outfit or the naughty Xena outfit. Respect that I want to wear my blue Oxford shirt.
3. You know that I do not want to shop with you. You cannot force me into shopping with you through some sense of equity by tagging along while I shop for my clothes and then insisting that it is only fair that I now go shop with you. I distinctly asked you, in the most loving way possible, to pi** off while I shop. No obligation has attached.
4. If I stand around in the Limited or J. Jill or one of your other stores, I will look miserable, like a dog in the rain. This is the nature of me. I can be happy and upbeat, or I can be shopping with you. I cannot be both. You know how when we take the cat to the vet, it retaliates by giving everyone in earshot the impression that we routinely torture it? I am like that. Unlike the cat, I only need my expression.
5. I will not go with you into the undergarment section. I recognize you think this makes me a prude. You fail to recognize that when I do join you, every other woman looks at me as if I were wearing a sign saying “Registered Sex Offender.” It is stressful to maintain my good-Lord-I-accidentally-stumbled-into-this-area-while-looking-for-a-lost-child-or-possibly-to-warn-someone-about-a-fire-in-men’s-furnishings expression and bodily posture.
6. Do not interfere with or resent the Communion of Men. When we encounter each other while accompanying our spouses shopping, we will form a bond in a mere glance. The other day, when we were in Bloomingdale’s, we passed that guy and he and I made eye contact and rolled our eyes. You got irritated, as did his wife. You fail to understand the bond that lies at the heart of all men. I was ten years older than he. He was black, I am white. He was athletic and hip-looking, I am the opposite. We were probably of different socioeconomic groups. But in that moment we few, we happy few, were a band of brothers, seared by common experience. It was beautiful. Leave it alone.
7. Would it kill you to do the French maid thing?
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