Shopping for clothes with a retired husband is as horrifying as shopping with a five-year-old boy.
It reminds me of trying to get my kids to eat broccoli.
“Do I have to?”
“Why? I never go anywhere or see anyone.”
“I see you! Every day, 365 days a year — and I want to rip off that hideous blue sweatshirt of yours!”
“It’s covered with grease stains.”
“I only wear it around the yard.”
When your sweatshirt is older than your 15-year-old cat, it’s time to biff it.
By some miracle, I get him to walk into a nice store because they are having a sale. There is no way he will venture in otherwise. I quickly grab different kinds of sweaters and throw him in a dressing room.
“Try these on.”
“I don’t like that.”
“It’s too bulky.”
I throw that one in a pile and pass him another.
“I don’t like that.”
“It’s too thin.”
I throw that one away too and pass him another. “For my sake, will you just try this on before you dismiss it?”
He rolls his eyes and sighs, like I’ve asked him to plow an acre of farmland. He reluctantly takes off his jacket and ball cap and wiggles into the sweater.
Naturally, I like it. “Now, that looks great!”
“I hate it.”
“The collar is up to my chin. I hate something around my neck.” He lowers the collar to his shoulders, which just looks ridiculous.
“You can’t wear it like that! It’s supposed to be sexy.”
He shakes his body around like a little kid. “It’s stupid.”
“You’re stupid! Take it off then.”
We try three more sweaters and his hair is full of static, which is apparently my fault. Now I remember why I hate taking him shopping. He just pooh-poohs everything until I give up. But this time I’m determined to get him a sweater and we eventually find one that he doesn’t totally despise. That’s good enough for me.
Now, on to slippers. He’s desperate for a new pair. I drag him over to the display.
“I don’t want open backs.”
He said this in 1976 when we were first married and he has said it every year since. This instantly knocks off half the selection — the good-looking ones — but I manage to find a few newer-looking specimens.
“These are nice.”
“They look warm. Try them.”
The ordeal of taking off one boot is as painful as tilling another acre of soil. And now he has to deal with a long elastic holding them together, four tags that keep falling inside the slipper and stuffed tissue paper in the shoe itself. Even I am fed up.
He gets it on his foot. “This is too small.”
“But it’s a 10.”
“My toes are scrunched.”
He lifts his head. “Yes, really. Why would I lie?”
To get out of doing this, I think. I pass him a size 11.
“It’s still too small.”
“That’s because you have thick wool socks on.”
“I wear socks with my slippers.”
Oh, right. He does, more’s the pity. It’s a great look, but not as ridiculous as when he wears socks with sandals in the summer.
I reach for another pair, hoping he won’t notice the price tag — but, naturally, he does. “$45! That’s ridiculous.”
“That’s about right,” I say. “Things cost more.”
“John, we are at an age when we can afford a few extra things and spending $45 on a pair of nice slippers for you is something we should be doing, now that you’re retired.”
“Baloney. I’m going to Walmart.”
So, now we’re rooting around the back of Walmart in the slipper section. All I see are the plaid slippers my grandfather used to wear. He picks one up and crams it on his foot.
“Great! Comfy, not tight. Just the right size.”
“Glorious. I’m glad you’re happy.”
“Are you going to ask me how much it costs?”
“No. You’re going to tell me.”
“Fifteen bucks! Fifteen bucks!”
He’s got a big smirk on his face, like a typical five-year-old kid.
Lesley Crewe is a writer living in, and loving, Cape Breton. These are the meandering musings of a bored housewife whose ungrateful kids left her alone with a retired husband and a fat cat who couldn’t care less. Her 10th novel, Beholden, is in bookstores now.