Clothes maketh a man

Because I’m a man, I can only shop for clothes in two sorts of ways. There’s the best way where I walk with deliberation into the shop, ignore all the offers of help from the assistants, stride up to the requisite rail or shelf, find my size, go straight to the till, pay and leave; all within two minutes of arriving. Or there’s the other way, where I prevaricate for ages, ask the opinion of the shop assistant, the cleaner, my wife and the people coming out of the changing rooms. Then go to another three shops, considering what others might think, before deciding on what I want to buy. And it was probably in the first shop, and I’m definitely not going to wear it more than once, if that, because I got it wrong, it doesn’t fit and I hate it.

I know I should never go shopping in any way other than the first.. But, sadly, I do. At least I don’t spend a large proportion of my life feeling clothes on rails, picking them up, putting them back, picking them up again, holding them against me, holding them up to the light and then putting them down again. And then picking them up again and . . . you know who you are darling. But maybe I should; if only to avoid half a wardrobe of hardly-worn horrible clothes.

I’m better when I go into a bar. I always know what I want long before I get there. And if they don’t have it, I always have a reliable substitute ready. This is different from how others I know do it; those of a different gender to me represented by my wife who, when we get to the bar, always looks surprised when I ask her what she wants. Not because she doesn’t expect me to buy her a drink; far from it. Rather, it appears that she forgets that bars serve drinks. It’s a common ailment.

And then there’s ordering food at a restaurant. “Oh I wish I’d ordered that. Mind if we swap; maybe half way through?” Yes, I do actually because I’ve just spent a good ten minutes taking the carefully-prepared menu very seriously and made my decision with respectful care. So I’m afraid you’re going to have to live with your disappointment. It’s your own fault, after all. Oh, go on then. I’ll finish off your tofu burger while you tuck into the remainder of this venison casserole that I’d been saving ‘til last because it contains the best bits. I hope you realise how lucky you are.

It’s obvious that I’m a lot better at considering a menu than I am at the consideration phase of buying clothes. And, when I’ve made my choice, I’m honourable enough to stick with my decision and not try and make my dining companion feel guilty. I know this sounds as if I’m bitter. Actually I’m not. I’m used to the idea as I’ve been married a very long time and it’s something I’ve learnt to put up with. Like backache.

It’s the others I feel sorry for. I watch them in our restaurants. He’s using the meal as a way of softening her up in the hope that food and wine may just be the way to her heart and other places. So what should he do when she looks longingly at the dish that he’s chosen so carefully and is longing to eat almost as much as he’s longing for his charms to work on her? Well if he knows what’s good for him he should swap dishes. That’s what I do and it’s why I’m still married. Now if only my wife would buy me my clothes.

Originally posted April 2010

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