Friday, November 11, 2011

Fun At the Mall

Fun at the Mall

My wife needed a dress for an upcoming wedding.  Not too formal, not too casual.  We went to boutiques and department stores near us and found Drek! (For the uninitiated that means crap).

The next week we decided to go to a Mall in North Miami.  It was known for its boutiques and we thought we could find something there.  Barbara made sure to bring dress shoes with her, which she carried in a plastic Publix bag.

We arrived at the Mall, parked and entered.  Lo and behold the first store we saw was a fancy designer boutique (the name meant nothing to me and I have blocked it from my mind).

We entered the store and were greeted by a very fashionable woman.  She offered to help us in our selection despite my gruff appearance and Barbara’s Publix bag, and we proceeded to pick out a few dresses.  I have to admit the selection was quite good and I happily went around suggesting one style or another.

Barbara was about to go into the dressing room when she asked the cost of one dress in particular (there were no prices on the labels).

“ $1500.00.” the fashion consultant casually said.

She must have seen my look of horror and astonishment so she informed us the dresses started at $1395 and went up to a few thousand.

“Well,” I said, “that’s a little more than we wanted to spend. Any place else in the mall we should be looking at?”

“I understand,” she said. “Why don’t you try the department store next door?”

We thanked her and went into the department store.  We found the dress area and I happened to see the same dress, from the same designer as the $1500 one for a measly $2800.00.  The two stores were right next to each other!  What was the department store thinking?

We left the department store and wandered around the mall.  We soon found another boutique and Barbara tried on a couple of dresses but no sale.

We continued our quest.

Almost all the stores had dresses, but they are made for 17-25 year olds who are a size 0-2. More than ½ the styles were strapless or off the shoulder, both requiring a strapless bra that Barbara has vetoed.  This further narrows our search criteria.

The next store we actually went into had a mix of casual and dressy.  The owner/manager came over and declared,” You’ve come to the right store.  We have clothes for you and not necessarily your daughter or granddaughter.”

This certainly sounded hopeful and she helped us pick out a couple of dresses for Barbara to try on.

While Barbara was trying on dresses, the manager was talking to me in between helping Barbara.  She explained all the clothes came from France so they were a little different and she had stuff for men and women.  She urged me to try on the casual men’s clothing. 

I told her I like to “stick to the task” when shopping and we were here for a dress for Barbara.

We found a dress there that looked great and fit our cost criteria (not $1500!).

We left the store with our purchase and were faced with what to do next. 

Barbara insisted we go to Macy’s to get me some long sleeve shirts.  After some arguing about it, I agreed and we proceeded to Macy’s.

We found the men’s section and were looking over the shirt selection.  A sales lady (not fashion consultant thank God) offered to help.  She showed us various designer named shirts including the Donald Trump Collection.  I innocently inquired if I would have to change my hairstyle or did the shirts come with a “hirsute accessory”?

The saleslady thought this was hilarious (I have to agree) and proceeded to tell her associates about my idea.  We discussed a display for the collection featuring a Donald Look a like wig, which everyone felt was a stroke of genius (once again I have to agree).  Barbara of course just rolled her eyes.   She seems to resent my acquiring fans wherever I go.

Since it was lunchtime, and Barbara is always hungry, we had lunch.  But not before Barbara informing me she needed to lose 5 lbs and it was up to me to keep her in line (fat chance, no pun intended).

We wandered around the Mall looking for potential gifts for other people.  I suggested we go back to the shop where Barbara had gotten her dress and look at things for our son and son-in-law, which we did.

We entered the shop and a young sales associate who had seen us previously, came over.  I said, “The president called and said we hadn’t spent enough in your store yet to stimulate the economy.”

“Huh,” she cleverly replied.  She looked puzzled and then said. “Wait a minute, you were here earlier, right?  Now I get it, about the president.  I’ll have to remember that.”
I smiled, acknowledging her intelligent grasping of my little inference.

She was very nice and tried mightily to help us. 

We told her that the people we were looking for while relatively young were very conservative in their choice of colors and styles.

She showed us some items that we thought were fitting.  There followed a spirited discussion about colors, all of which focused on gray, black, tan and very dark blue.  I tried to hold out for brighter colors. 

By this time the girl knew who we were buying for, their names, likes, dislikes, etc.

I found myself wandering around looking for “brighter” selections or ones with character.  I told the girl to not show Barbara any more black items.

I also tried to enlist the salesgirl in helping me get Barbara into a lingerie shop to get a more figure-flattering bra.  I told her to say to Barbara, “I saw the dress you bought, it would look spectacular with a push up Bra”.  For some reason she was reluctant to do so.

Taking matters into my own capable hands, I mentioned to Barbara that the salesgirl had a suggestion for her.  The girl looked stricken and tried to blame me.  Barbara of course just laughed and rolled her eyes.

Barbara had settled on a few shirts, all of which looked very similar to each other.  Once again I tried to get her to consider something less conservative (boring).  I had found a polo shirt that said “Dead Presidents” and had 9 pictures of various presidents, formally dressed as if for their portraits, but they were all skeletons.  I thought this was a winner.  Oddly Barbara did not.

The salesgirl and owner seemed to side with me, all to no avail.  I tried to get my son on the phone to confirm he would wear it, but sadly he was unavailable.

I then suggested we buy the shirt for my daughter-in-law’s father.  Barbara pointed out that he was more conservative than our son (quite an accomplishment) and wouldn’t even eat pizza or chicken wings with his hands.

During all the time we were at the shop, the salesgirl kept laughing and asking us not to leave.  At one point she became somewhat confused when I mentioned Barbara was celebrating her anniversary soon with her first husband.  The girl stopped short and asked incredulously “You’re not married to each other?”

Once again, rolling her eyes, Barbara explained my cute way of referring to her marital status.

We all had a good time, laughing practically the whole time we were in the store.   The salesgirl was sad to see us go.

On the way home, our son returned our call.  I asked him “theoretically would he wear the Dead Presidents shirt?”  His disappointing answer was “not if he could help it.”

Barbara immediately wanted to call the salesgirl to confirm who was correct in regard to the shirt. I thought it was a good idea, but the number of the store was in the back seat with our purchases so we didn’t.

“If we were retired and rich, we could do this all the time.  This was really fun,” said Barbara while we were driving.

“We could do this just not buy anything.” I answered.

“What would be the fun in that?” she ended our discussion.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Redoing the Kitchen

Redoing the Kitchen

“We need a new kitchen” stated my wife, Barbara.

I tried to ignore her.

“I said, we need a new kitchen.”

More ignoring

“Shell, we need a new kitchen,” she said louder and more forcefully.

I looked up from reading the paper, looked at the kitchen and said thoughtfully, “Why?”

“These cabinets are 30 years old, that’s why,” she stated.

“They’re in great shape,” I answered. “Besides, we don’t use the kitchen for cooking.  Look at the new stove we just bought that has only been used once in the last year.  We don’t need a new kitchen.  This one is just like new from lack of use.”

Ignoring my logical and well reasoned argument, Barbara asked, “How much would a new kitchen cost?”

Knowing she would persist, I answered, “about $5,000, $1300 for cabinets, $2,000 or so for granite countertops and then there is labor.  Do you really want to spend that much on something we don’t use or need?”

I hoped that would be the end of it.  Fat Chance.

About once a week, Barbara brings up the new kitchen.  She invariably brings it up when we are with friends seeking their support. 

“Look how well the bathrooms came out,” she says, “You didn’t object to that, why are you objecting to a new kitchen?”

I try to counter with the “lack of use” argument: “Because we use the bathrooms,” I answer, “we don’t use the kitchen”.

This works well with the guys, but the wives have a different slant on it.  They go with the “Style over Function Theorem”

The Theorem states that “A cabinet that has not been redone must be redone even though it is in good shape and is not used”. The corollary to this is: “A kitchen that has not been remodeled is a poor reflection on the wife of the house and must be redone to restore her reputation.”

 I think the author of this theorem worked for the Woman’s Fashion Industry, since it seems to apply to clothes as well as kitchens.

My reasoned arguments that we don’t need to replace a perfectly presentable good kitchen with a new one are usually ignored by all the women who my wife presents to me as supporters of her argument. 

I counter with the “Money Ploy” which states that: the cost of the kitchen would pay for 10 trips to visit our daughter and her family in South Carolina.  It would also preclude our taking a vacation. I also point out that we are hoping to retire soon and we could use the $5,000.

Barbara is growing tired of my arguments against a new kitchen and is becoming more skeptical of my “lack of money” argument.

Once again the Sword of Damocles hangs over me.  I cling to my arguments and hope to outlast her persistence.

People who know us are betting on Barbara.