Diana and I had “date day” yesterday. It’s like “date night” only with less sitting and eating and more walking, shopping, and heavy sighing on my part.
“Ooh, there’s a Sketchers outlet. I want to stop in there.”
“Did you just sigh?”
“No… Maybe… I thought we were going out to get things to make an Easter box to send to Gabe.”
”We are, but I want to look at shoes.
While there, I looked around the men’s section, poking at shoes, bending their soles back and forth as if I could actually tell anything from that, and sighing… at which point one of the employees cornered me.
“Hi, I’m Brad. Are you finding everything alright?”
“Yeah, I’m just looking, thanks, Brad.”
“Are you looking for anything in particular?”
I wasn’t, actually. But I didn’t want to have to explain to Brad that I was just killing time after having the classic “bait and switch” pulled on me by my wife.
“No, just general tennis-shoey stuff.”
“You should check out the clearance section. We really have some good deals.”
Brad had correctly pegged me as the cheap curmudgeon I am. I looked across the store. Diana was sifting through shoes, smiling away. Clearly, I had more time to kill, and he seemed like a nice kid.
“Okay, Brad. Lead the way.”
Brad disappeared into the back and returned with about five boxes of tennis shoes. None of them were actually for playing tennis, that’s just the term we southerners use to refer to any athletic shoe. He began showing them all to me, explaining the features of each.
“This pair is great for the gym. They only weigh 7.5 ounces and have a bonded anti-microbial layer for odor control.”
I tried the shoes on. They fit well and I kind of liked the thought of a built-in “stink shield.”
“They list for $90.00, and are on sale for $50.00, but I can do you $25.00 on them.”
“People ask how I know I can give them such a good price.”
I stared blankly at Brad. I think he was waiting for me to say, “Gosh, Brad, how can you give such good prices?” Undismayed by my total lack of enthusiasm, Brad eventually smiled and pointed to the word “MANAGER” stenciled on his shirt. Brad is very proud of his position as manager. Brad has clearly practiced this shtick a lot.
“Ahhh, yeah, good one.”
I took the shoes to Diana for approval. She gave me the go-ahead, and then proceeded to pick out another pair for me.
“You’ll like these. They have memory foam.”
“Will you stop that?”
By that time, Diana had found a pair she liked for herself (also with memory foam), so we took them all up to Brad at the register.
“You’re husband’s getting a really good deal on these shoes. People ask how I know I can give them such a good price.”
Diana looked at me quizzically, I returned with my “just roll with it so we can get out of here” face. Brad pointed to his shirt again.
“Ahh, yeah, good one.”
(God, I love her. Even when she’s making me shop).
Date Day continued to Garden Ridge, Zio’s Pizza, and the Easter candy section of Wal-Mart, but we eventually made it home. Good thing, too, as I had used up all of my allotted sighs for one day and had maybe two disgruntled moans left in the tank. I grilled up some hotdogs for supper and was sitting on the couch, hotdog in one hand, television remote in the other, and one shoe from each of the two new pairs on my feet, while Diana showed me the shoes she had picked out for herself.
“Very nice, Darling.”
“Yes, and I got these just in time.”
“Just in time for what?”
“I can’t wear my other work shoes.”
“Why not? You’ve only had them a few months. In fact, they look just like your new pair.”
“No. These are cloth. The other pairs are suede.”
“The weather is warming up. You can only wear suede when it’s cold.”
“So you go outside every morning, look at the John Deere thermometer, and then pick out what shoes you’re going to wear based on the temperature?”
“No, but you can only wear suede after it starts cooling down in the fall until it starts warming up in the spring.
“It’s a rule.”
“Look. It’s just the rules I grew up with. I don’t know where they come from, but I follow them.”
“Well, who would really know if you didn’t?”
“It’s not stupid. Rules are important. They’re what separate us from the animals.”
Diana then began telling me a bunch of other “rules”… something about wearing white after Labor Day, but it was at that moment that I noticed a big blob of mustard had somehow gotten on both my hand and the side of the remote. Since I still had a hotdog in the other hand, I solved the problem in the most expedient manner available to me.
“… although you could probably get away with wearing violet suede up until Easter… Oh my GOD. Did you just lick mustard off the remote?”
“Men have their rules, too.”
“Men have rules about mustard?”
“We have rules about everything. But, unlike woman rules, man rules usually serve an actual purpose or need.”
“But your rules don’t separate you from the animals.”
“It’s not a requirement, no.”