Thursday 9 July 2009

Shopping - Will I Ever Learn?

I am the most stupid man in the world. Will I ever learn from my mistakes?

We are going to a family wedding next weekend and, of course, Mrs PM has to have a new dress for the occasion. I know from past experience that shopping with Mrs PM is a dreadful experience, made even worse when she has to buy clothes for herself.

I’ve suffered before (read about it here).

Last weekend, I made several mistakes. First, I told Mrs PM that I was thinking of going to the Trafford Centre to buy a new shirt and tie for the wedding.

“I need to buy a new dress,” she replied.

The horror of a trip to the Trafford Centre being dragged around lady’s clothes shops well up inside me and I almost screamed:

“NOOOO!!! Don’t make me come with you. In the name of all that is sane and holy, please don’t make me come with you.”

Thankfully, my mental firewall intercepted the tsunami of pure panic that threatened to overwhelm me and turn me into a gibbering, blubbing wreck and I managed to compose myself and say:

“Fabulous. I tell you what – why don’t you go ahead and I’ll join you later. I’ve got one or two things to do; I’ll give you a call when I arrive.”

“Fine,” she said, much to my relief.

I let her go and my intention was to give her three hours before joining her. That was my second mistake.

I can barely stand to spend more than an hour in the Trafford Centre myself, so I foolishly assumed that three hours would be ample time for Mrs PM to find herself a dress. Wrong!

Three and a half hours later I set off and arrived at the Trafford Centre with a very simple plan; meet Mrs PM for a coffee, buy a shirt and then go home.

I called her.

“Where are you?” I asked.

“I’m in NEXT”, she said.

“Have you found a dress?” I asked.

“No!” she said.

I felt an invisible hand squeezing on my heart. I almost wept. People stared at me as I crumbled.

“Are you there?” she asked.

“Yes,” I squeaked. “I’ll see you in a minute.”

I managed to pull myself together before I reached NEXT and found her looking frustrated as she moved from dress to dress. I managed a smile.

“Honestly, I’ve been to loads of shops and I can’t find anything,” she said.

“Fancy a coffee?” I said hopefully.

There was no chance. She looked at me as if I had just kicked a dog. We spent the next twenty minutes wondering around NEXT before she dragged me off to Debenhams.

Some people say that Debenhams is a great shop because of the wide variety of choice. I say that it is the eighth level of Hades. The entire ground floor is dedicated to woman’s shopping; if you aren’t asphyxiated by the smorgasboard of female fragrances, then you find yourself, as a man, surrounded by all manner of female attire. It is quite easy to panic in there and find yourself in the lingerie section. If you a male and alone there, you may as well start praying to your maker.

Within Debenhams, there are a large number of franchises each of which has a huge selection of clothing. Mrs PM was like a kid in a candy shop. I was hauled around every single rack of clothing. I saw dresses for small women, big women, fat women, thin women and there were numerous varieties for all ages. I was surrounded by females all of whom were totally and utterly indecisive. Are all women Librans? I think they are. I made another mistake at this point. I said:

“There are hundreds of dresses. Why can’t you decide? You’re worse than I am.”

She physically abused me at this point. If the look of rage wasn’t enough to strike fear into my soul, the thump that followed was an appetiser that had me wondering about the manner of my impending doom at the hands of my beloved.

I had to make amends. I had to feign interest.

“What about this one?” I asked.

“Are you mad?” she replied with ill-concealed venom.

“How about this?” I asked picking up a small number that I foolishly thought would accentuate the better parts of her figure.


I decided to shut up and only add words of encouragement when she showed a little interest in a garment.

After an eternity Mrs PM managed to select some dresses. By this time my diminishing interest was but a memory; I had no idea where she had picked up each item and had followed her around the store like a lost puppy.

“Right,” she said. “I’m going to try these on.

“At last,” I whispered under my breath.

“WHAT?” she snarled.

“Nothing, my sweet,” I said smiling.

I thought that I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I had a moment of pure optimism where, in my mad mind, I saw Mrs PM trying the first dress on, loving it and then both of us leaving the store happy.

What an utter clueless goon I was.

I forgot two things:

(1) It was Saturday afternoon, arguably the busiest time on the busiest shopping day of the week.
(2) Debenhams had a sale.
(3) Mrs PM had several dresses to try.

We arrived at the changing rooms and found a queue. We moved to another set of changing rooms and found another queue. My heart sank.

“We may as well join this one,” said Mrs PM and before I could blink, she added

“OOH – just hang on a minute. I want to look at that dress over there. Keep my place in the queue.”

She handed me the dresses.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse I found myself in a queue of four women waiting for a changing room cubicle to become free - and I was holding several dresses. To the average passer by it looked as if I was queuing to try on the dresses myself.

For the first time I felt like a colossal pervert, a cross dressing maniac. Several blokes walked past. Some laughed openly; others whispered to their partners and pointed; the rest shook their heads, knowing the torment I was going through.

After what seemed like an eternity, Mrs PM returned.

“I didn’t like it,” she said, as if that would make me feel any better.

After an eternity, Mrs PM finally reached the front of the queue. As she disappeared within the changing room I said “If there’s anything you need, let me know.”

That was my biggest mistake. Born out of a desperate need to rectify the numerous faux pas I had offered to assist Mrs PM in the hope that we would leave this hell hole in harmony.

I vowed not to make the mistake of trying to answer the world’s most difficult question: How do I look in this?

Regrettably I heard seven words that shattered any hope of leaving with a tiny amount of my pride intact. The changing room attendant came out holding one of the dresses that Mrs PM had taken in.

“Are you Dave?” she asked.

I should have run away at that point but I said, yes.

“Can you get this in size 14?”

She handed me a purple dress and disappeared back into the changing room leaving me standing there like a complete cranberry.

For a while I was too shocked to react. When I finally came to my senses I realised the enormity of the task before me. I hadn’t paid any attention to the exact location where Mrs PM had acquired the dress. It could be anywhere in this enormous shop. And then I realised that I would have to find the location whilst clutching the bloody dress. I wouldn’t have Mrs PM with me so once more I would look as if I were shopping for a dress for myself.

This last fact was with me as I walked through the shop. I was being mocked by a series of thoughts entering my head from an unknown nemesis within:

“They think you’re buying that dress for yourself.”

“I’ll bet it would suit you if you tried it on.”

“They’re all laughing at you – you’re a PERVERT!”

I ran around the store, frantically searching. My haste made matters worse because the dress clung to me like a purple leech, giving some people, I’m sure, the impression that I was actually wearing it.

It probably only took me five minutes to find the location and swap dresses but it was the longest five minutes of my life. I raced back to the changing room and almost threw the dress at the changing room attendant. My face was red and flustered; I’m sure I heard mocking laughter.

Thankfully my efforts weren’t in vain and Mrs PM chose the dress that I had just humiliated myself with.

Two hours had passed since I’d arrived- Mrs PM had been there for FIVE AND A HALF HOURS.

I managed to buy a shirt and tie within ten minutes and we enjoyed a relaxing coffee before finally going home.

To give you some idea about how I feel when shopping with Mrs PM, consider the following excerpt from the hilarious show “Father Ted” where a bunch of Catholic priests suddenly find themselves in the lingerie section of a department store and have to escape unnoticed (follow this link).

I am looking forward to the wedding – I just hope that Mrs PM doesn’t tell everybody about our escapades with the dress. Knowing her, she will convince them that I actually tried on the dress myself – or worse that I actually enjoy shopping with her!!


earthtoholly said...

Poor PM...I only hope that purple is your color! Again I'm laughing at your expense, but in Mrs. PM's defense, I know how it is. It also takes me hours to find something for those occasions. I'm really not a shopper!

Just me said...

I'm so sorry to be wonderfully amused by this post - but in all honesty it was so amusing & wonderfully well written I could feel your angst & horror. As a result I promise never again to drag my son shopping with me. Though I am still chuckling at your post. Hope the wedding was wonderful!

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Holly,

I know how deeply frustrating it is for women when they are shopping - they seem to think that all women have a figure like a supermodel when in fact they come in all shapes and sizes. Mrs PM hates shopping too and her irritation with me is born out of pure frustration. When she goes on her own and buys something, she comes home trimphant as if she has has hunted and killed a horrible child-eating monster.

And to say that I am not a shopper is an understatement :-)



Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Just Me,

I've tried to explain to Mrs PM why I hate shopping with her, and I hope it is sinking in. She will read the post (she always does) and I'm sure she will laugh - I just hope she doesn't say "well actually I need some shoes to go with that dress" ...




Just me said...

lol. I made my son read that & he said I'm just like that too. Thanks for sharing it too.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Oh, man. Poor Mrs. PM. There's no way *I* can shop for five and a half hours! It sounds like Mrs. PM needs better stores with better variety.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi again Just Me,

I'm sure it applies to lots of people.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Susan,

I agree! It takes me no more than an hour to shop. Either she's too fussy or she needs to find somewhere else.

To be honest the Trafford Centre is huge so if she struggles in there, she would struggle anywhere.




bingkee said...

I love shopping but shopping for a single item for 5 hrs . is also too much for me. My husband does not mind going shopping with me even in cosmetics and ladies clothing departments (I always need his opinion ) but he would surely feel that misery you have had experienced.
I hope you had a nice time in the wedding.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Bingkee,

You have a very tolerant husband there. I admit that I am hopeless when it comes to shopping - even for short periods of time. I find it so boring. Mind you, when I eventually win the lottery (I live in hope), I look forward to going on a massive spending spree - without Mrs PM.