I have yet to hear a woman say that her husband enjoys shopping. I perhaps am the lone person on this planet whose worse half (if I am the 'better', he must be the antonym) takes immense pleasure in shopping.
Of course, shopping means two different things to us. To me it means going to the shop to buy something. To him it means - -it can’t be packaged in a sentence. It calls for an entire blog to explain what shopping means to him.
The minute we enter the shop, our behaviour acquires totally different patterns. I usually walk up to an employee and ask him where I can find what I want, and then I make a bee line for that section. My husband, on the other hand - - - No. Description may not do justice to reality. Shall present it.
WE, residing in a small town in Kerala, walk into a Nalli Textiles in a big metro.
Husband (From now on H): Ask that man what you want.
ME: I know! I am about to ask him.
Having found out the section I want, I walk towards it. I look back to see my husband, his hands stuffed in the pockets, looking around – to get an overall idea of what, I really don’t know-or have cared to find out. But he sure appears as though he had come to buy up the Nalli chain!
Then he starts his inspection. Of the details.
In no time I find what I want. Since it runs into a few thousands, I want his opinion. I am ashamed to admit that I haven’t evolved enough as an independent woman to dump his likes and dislikes regarding my clothes into the trash bin.
We start walking back towards the Kanchhevaram silk section where I have kept aside a saree for his approval.
Me: I think I have found what I wanted.
H: You know Molly, can you think of a single shop in Kerala where they have such variety?
Me: It’s a pretty piece, you know, a peacock blue with magenta border.
H: And the sales men! Their body language. So professional.
Me: But it is a little expensive.
H: They know their job.
We reach the section and the sales man places the selected saree on the counter.
Me: This is the saree.
Usually our tastes converge.
H: Check it for damage.
Irritated, I ask the salesman who has already begun doing it.
Salesman: No damage, sir.
Husband: But what is that?
To date, I have never been able to find out how his eyes fall on some defect or how every piece I choose happens to have some defect. There are times when I have thought that he can create damage on fabric just by looking at it.
I start searching for another sari while he wanders about, deeply engrossed in his assessment of the shop, its business, its systems, its efficiency, its clientele, its stock, its floor management, its method of handling the crowd at the payment counter, parcel counter, and and and and - - - - . Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!
If it is a lifestyle type of mall, he moves from section to section, picks up items, turns them upside down, finds something to read on every item and then puts it back. When I see him picking up delicate crystals, I walk up and tell him not to touch or break. For all the attention he pays me, I need not have existed.
In a mall, he seems to be eternally disappearing – something I find most annoying. There are times when I have had to call him on the cell phone, after he performs his vanishing trick.
Yesterday, we went to the Bed Bath and Beyond in Chicago. I picked up some stuff, put them in the trolley and started off on that husband hunting expedition. Sure enough, I found him after three rounds of walking up and down that gigantic shop. Needless to say, he was scrutinizing the underside of an exotic crockery item. For the life of me, I cannot understand why he cannot just look at that piece of art with its right side up and drink in its beauty.
As we walked back to the billing counter, I said: I have taken these items. Think we can carry them?
H: All the items in this shop are Chinese.
Me: I know these pans are heavy but I haven’t seen such quality stuff in India
H; These Chinese seem to have taken over manufacture completely.
Me: All three are stainless steel
H: And the finish of each product! These Chinese!! We really should salute them.
I try again: Do you think these will be too heavy?
H: And Molly, see how cordial and helpful these employees are?
By now, I was trying to keep in check that terrible impulse to pick the heavies steel frying pan and bring it crashing down on his head!
Instead, I looked at him, taking care that my expression didn't betray my feelings.
H: Really, we have a lot to learn from the Americans.
Me: Listen, (my voice become slightly hysterical). Do you think we should buy these items? Will they be overweight?
Husband, gesturing with his head at the friendly conversation between the sales boy and a customer at the billing counter, openened his mouth to say something.
My patience snapped.
Me: I don’t care a s--- how cordial these guys are, how earnest they are or whatever. All I want to know is whether we will be able to take these items to India if I buy them.
At last, he looked at the trolley. Took up the frying pan, turned it over.
Chinese again, declared the husband triumphantly!!!!!!!