Sunday, July 13, 2008

retail outlets

retail outlets are designed for one purpose: to make men feel uncomfortable.

every single time I walk into a retail outlet, my first mode of business is to establish the geographic location of the men's section. fortunately, store planners are aware of this tendency, and in order to increase my discomfort, they are sure to disguise the sections as well as possible.

I loathe that first moment, walking into the store. people are behind you, so you can't stop, but are forced to shuffle as your eyes dart back and forth, desperately seeking a sign as to which side the men's department occupies. if it isn't immediately apparent, you saunter very slowly to the first display, ready to dart at the first sign of women. casually stroking an item of clothing with heart racing, and sweat pouring out of your forehead, you lift the tag to your eyes and inspect the size. 2? size 2?! FOILED!!!

however, at this moment, it's essential you do not admit defeat. make no sudden movements. your pride is desperately hanging on to a sinking ship. girlfriend. you are shopping for your girlfriend. should anyone suspect, you are shopping for your girlfriend. repeat it in your mind again and again. slowly put down the tag, and inspect another bit of clothing nearby, perhaps a bit quicker. once you have established that this is not your girlfriend's style, trot smoothly away from the offending rack. keep your wits about you, and find that section!

girls, of course, have no pity for us. in fact, to make things even harder, women will occupy large swathes of men's departments worldwide! how emasculating is that? you're inspecting a stack of shirts, with women in the same merchandise, ready to either buy the clothing for the men in their life, or, heaven forbid, themselves.

I once owned a fairly masculine jacket. black fleece, red logo. a pretty sweet piece of apparel if you ask me. one day in high school I wore it, only to find a woman wearing the jacket. humiliation ruled the day. I never wore it again.

I stop by Banana Republic at the mall every so often. traditionally, they've been friendly to people with my deficiency--right side is men's, left side is women's. there are big models wearing shirts and ties on the right hand side. everything screams: MEN, THIS WAY, HAVE NO FEAR.

HOWEVER, I took it for granted. shopping there not too long ago, I walked in on the right hand side, and headed for the right, only to find womenfolk everywhere I looked! bah! dresses! scarves! ahhhhh, the agony! they reformatted! the men's section was now in the back. I left that store a shell of the man I once was, humiliated at my defeat.

there is nothing worse than mistakenly shopping in the wrong section. public humiliation at its finest.


Julie said...

It makes me happy when I read a new post.

jeremiah said...

excellent, you and i have many similarities. i always have to ask megan which side is mine. that is one of the perks of marriage, plus if i DO end up in the women's section, i can pretend like i am looking at something megan needs.

i think the gap in particular is a very bad offender. they have a switch that can instantaneously flip the men's and women's section, so when they see someone like me coming through the door, they flip the switch and BOOM i'm in size 2 land.

megan said...

I remember when we went to that mall with you and the Newmans...ahem...and somebody else....and you did another "guy shopper" thing that I still find today most amusing. I think Marie mentioned she wanted to go to the "sale" section of Pottery Barn, so you graciously asked a salesperson where the "sales" section was located. Before they gave you an answer, Marie and I were running away, trying to keep our pride in tact. Don't feel bad - I can still hear Marie mumbling under her breath "I'm getting outta here".

MommaMcCarthy said...

for some reason, this reminds me of this one time when jay and i were at long's in downtown PA and there were these two girls asking the cashier where their morning-after pills were. the guy must not have spoken english very well or something, because he made them repeat it like 3 times, and then after it was clear to us that the man had no idea what they were talking about, Jay told them to look near the condoms.

i can't believe i just typed that word.

but anyway, i think that's WAY worse than finding yourself in the wrong section.