Saturday, May 3, 2008

Short Pudgy Men Say the Darnedest Things

Bob and I went shopping today.

This is an extraordinarily rare event, even more so because the person for whom we were shopping was Bob.

One of Bob's favorite sayings is that "after the revolution, we'll all wear uniforms." This is a nod to his college days, when he made his own yogurt and didn't wear deodorant, as well as a way of saying that even though he is a lawyer for a big corporation, he hasn't really sold out.

Guys who talk about wearing uniforms aren't all that interested in clothes. So when Bob tells me that he's in desperate need of something new to wear, it's comparable to when those people whose religion forbids seeking medical care say it's time to dial 911. The fact that this past Wednesday was his birthday, and that he is The Hardest Person in the World to Buy For, and that after 22 years of buying him birthday presents I was completely and totally out of ideas, meant that we were destined to spend this weekend at a mall looking for business casual.

Bob enjoys spending money the way most people enjoy vomiting, so most of his clothes are cheap. Extremely. But in the years since Bob's company went to business casual, he and I have discovered that you sort of get what you pay for when it comes to no-iron khakis. We started with Target and JCPenney, moved on to Macy's and Belk, and finally turned to Eddie Bauer and Land's End in desperation. None of these companies' slacks have held up well, perhaps because Bob carries a wallet the size of a loaf of bread. Therefore, it was to Brooks Brothers of all places that we traipsed this afternoon in search of a pair of no-iron pants that would carry him through more than a season.

Bob recently lost a lot of weight, and there was a good deal of back-and-forth between him and the sales clerk as to whether to go with the 32-inch waist or the 33. I didn't really care -- I tend to turn my back on conversations about which of two really tiny sizes is preferable, even if it's a man who'll be wearing them -- so I sat down and people-watched. And that was when I witnessed the following:

This short round man with skinny legs and a baseball cap -- he looks kind of like a hardboiled egg on toothpicks, or Mr. Potato Head -- comes into the store, followed by his wife. Mr. Egg and the Mrs. wandered a bit, fingering these pants, looking at the tags on those shirts.

A sales guy walks past. Mr. Egg waves him down.

Mr. Egg: I've got a 17 1/2 inch neck and I want an 18-neck shirt. Got anything like that?

Sales Guy: Sure. (Sales guy moves a few feet toward display racks) We've got these pinpoints (pointing in front of him) and those wrinkle-free (pointing to his right) and (turning to his left) we've got--

Mr. Egg: (spreading hands emphatically) Just show me your most expensive shirt.

Sales Guy does a 180 and Mr. and Mrs. Egg follow. I listen as Sales Guy explains that the most expensive shirts have a "leaner" cut. If I were Mr. Egg, I'd sacrifice the opportunity to pay maximum price in order to find a shirt that wasn't going to lose its buttons the first time I sat down, but it's a free country.

Just then, slim-trim Bob -- a man who's never in his life asked for the most expensive anything -- came out. It was killing him, but he picked out two pair of Brooks Brothers no-iron pants, although only because if they hold them till next week they'll be 25 percent off.

It takes all kinds.


MommyTime said...

This is very funny. I have the opposite problem (sort of) -- I can't get my husband to STOP buying clothes. But he's too cheap to buy good ones. I think that's why he keeps buying: they shrink, are ill fitting, pill, etc., and then have to be replaced. I'm sure we'd SAVE money if he bought more expensive clothes less frequently...

Grass is always greener I suppose...

HRH said...

That was seriously funny. There are so many phrases that I laughed at but the spending money likened to vomiting was really priceless. My husband has issues with spending money on clothing. He insists on buying everything off tables at Sams and Costco where you can't try anything on. Then he complains that his jeans don't fit. REALLY? Because I have so much luck with jeans that I DON"T TRY ON. OMG. I talked him into an "expensive" shirt once ($80) and the dry cleaners LOST IT. So guess what I heard for the last 4 years..."I can't buy anything expensive the dry cleaners will lose it. They lost my $80 shirt!" Thank God you got that man some pants.

Betsy Bird said...

Your dry cleaner story reminds me that in the early days of our relationship, Bob starched and ironed the next day's shirt each night in order to save $1.50 per shirt. It took a little over an hour. Given that we didn't usually get off work until 8, that pretty much blew the evening. It killed him to rely on the dry cleaners, but I finally said it was me or his shirts.

Sleeping with Ward Cleaver said...

Ha! LOVE the vomit line. And it's SO TRUE. My DH would prefer to vomit than spend money, especially on clothes. Honestly, he still has shoes he's had since we were married, 21 years ago. I mean, even if they are still technically functional, isn't it time to lose the ancient shoes yet?
And I too avoid being within hearing distance of any discussion involving stepping down in size. I was shopping with my cute thin daughters at Ann Taylor Loft last week and rather than even torture myself looking at the teeny clothes I sat in the dressing area and answered emails on my iPhone. Sigh...