Originally posted July 8, 2017.
Seeing someone in her peripheral vision, the clerk picked her head up, ready to be of service.
And then her face visibly dropped.
I didn’t take it personally. I knew that when she saw me, she realized that I probably wasn’t buying anything, that at best, I was going to have a question irrelevant to what they were selling, and at worst, I was going to be one of those guys with an inane question about buying something for his wife.
For the record, I was looking for directions to the bathroom.
Why was it unlikely that I would be buying anything? It’s because my wife and I were at the Nine West Outlet at Merrimack Premium Outlets in New Hampshre — in other words, a women’s shoe store.
What do I know about shoes?
We guys have nothing to complain about. It’s not right, but it’s a man’s world in almost every way possible — which reminds me, dudes, please stop being jerks on Twitter, for one thing — to the point where seeing how men react in a women’s store is actually interesting.
A lot of times, of course, we sit outside if we can. I’ve seen some really well-appointed seating areas in malls for us (and, let’s be honest, it’s mostly for guys) to sit while our wives, girlfriends or mothers shop.
I didn’t feel like hanging around outside Nine West today — it’s an outdoor mall, and it was hot and humid — so I followed my wife inside. I mostly wandered around, trailing the play as my wife searched for shoes.
When she asked me if I liked a pair of shoes, I gave my usual answer, “I don’t know. What do you think? You’re the one who has to wear them.”
After about five minutes, another guy came in, and he picked up a shoe like he was almost making a suggestion. This happens?
My wife eventually found a pair of shoes, but I was in the bathroom when it happened. I still haven’t seen them.
Taking a seat
My wife had a credit for Coach, so that was our next stop. She mentioned something about needing a new purse, causing me to ask if Coach also sold holes in the head. Apparently, it doesn’t.
A little more trailing the play followed, but after an “after you … no, after you” with a couple shoppers, my wife pointed out a padded seat where a guy with a “Sup!” T-shirt was checking his phone.
I took the hint.
The “man seat” is the saving grace for men at women’s stores, especially if they’re also on bag duty.
Before my wife and I got married, we had to shop for something at David’s Bridal. Not only was the place full of women, all that was outside was a parking lot, and there was no man seat.
There was no place for me to hide. No matter where I went, it looked like I was creeping on the women. Most of what I’ve said above (other than the man’s world part) has been in jest, but I was seriously uncomfortable.
I get the feeling they were, too. Seriously, all I wanted to do was stay out of the way.
Shopping? You mean … for myself?
I needed sneakers, so our last stop was the Nike outlet.
Nike has plenty of women’s items, but even if I was looking for a suit at Men’s Wearhouse — pretty sure the name implies there’s not a lot of women’s clothing there — I don’t think I could go by myself and pick something out.
After all, that would mean not asking my wife for advice and if what I was looking at was OK.
But … but … yes, I know. I brush off my wife’s questions about stuff she’s interested in buying, but have to run all of my purchases by her. That’s not lost on me.
However, if she wasn’t there, the stack of boxes with sneakers I tried on (which I think reached six) might be even taller, or I might still be mulling the pros and cons of the various styles.
I also probably wouldn’t have the black socks.
She talked me into those after the very patient Nike store employee — those boxes didn’t all show up on their own — suggested them.
So if I’m the most-stylish guy at my pickleball game, it’ll be because of her.