Last Friday, Diana and I went to Sam’s Club to return some embarrassingly undersized lounge pants she had purchased for me. From time to time, she will buy something for me that I don’t want, but that she thinks I want (and because it’s on sale), and I must tread a fine line between discouraging the behavior and hurting her feelings.
“Look, David, I bought you this nice V-neck sweater that was on sale at Kohl’s.”
“Thank you, it’s nice… but…”
“Honey, I really don’t like V-neck sweaters.”
“What do you mean? They’re your favorite. You have three or four V-neck sweaters.”
“Right, and how many times have you ever seen me wear them.”
“But, when I bought you the first one, you said it was nice.”
“You were so excited when you showed it to me that I didn’t have the heart to tell you I didn’t want it.”
“But you would look so good in them.”
“Not if I don’t wear them… which I won’t… because I don’t like them.”
“Well, why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because of the face you’re making right now.”
“The ‘you-just-killed-my-dog-and-ate-him‘ face. Besides, I figured if you never saw me wearing the first one, you’d make a huge withdrawal from the First National Clue Bank and not buy any more.”
“Well, I’m sorry you hate it. I’ll return it. I just really thought you’d like it.”
“Honey, I don’t hate it, I just won’t ever wear it.”
“No, too late.” I won’t buy you anymore V-neck sweaters.”
The thing is, her heart is in the right place, and she really is just trying to make me happy (and dress better). I don’t know how she gets into her head that something is my “favorite,” but, once she does, she has a tendency to smother me with it.
“I got you blueberry Special K.”
“Oh, uhhhh…. thanks.”
“I thought you liked the blueberry.”
“But blueberries are your favorite.”
“When have I ever said blueberries are my favorite?”
“But you like them.”
“But you always get excited and buy that stupid BooBerry cereal when it comes out around Halloween.”
“That’s different. That is pure nostalgia. Plus, I’m pretty sure no actual blueberries are used in the cereal-making process.”
“Well, I’m sorry you hate it. I won’t buy any more. I just really thought you’d like it.”
“Honey, I don’t hate blueberry Special K. But that’s all you’ve bought for the past year. Some strawberry or regular Special K would be nice once in a while – maybe some Apple Jacks or Captain Crunch.”
“No, too late. I won’t buy anymore.”
“Did you just sigh?”
Same thing with the lounge pants. I don’t wear lounge pants. They’re too much like pajamas and I feel vulnerable when wearing them. If I have to go up against an intruder in the middle of the night, I don’t want to be wearing pajamas. This is why I normally sleep in BDU pants. Also, I have bad memories associated with pajamas.
When I was in my teens, my next door neighbor, Brad Boaz, and I worked our way through most of a fifth of Old Grand Dad while sitting in his Camaro in the driveway. Then we wandered down the street to a friend’s house who was having a party because his parents were out of town. Things got pretty fuzzy after that, but I do remember at one point frantically trying to force an entire serving of pasta I had just thrown up into the drain of one of the bathroom sinks. Judging by the new nickname I received the next week – “Spaghetti” – I’d say I wasn’t completely successful in the effort.
The next morning, I woke up feeling like crap with no memory of the previous night. I looked down. I was wearing pajamas. That wasn’t right. I hadn’t worn pajamas since I was nine. Something bad had happened. Something very bad. Apparently, I had taken the scenic route home, because Mom later said I stumbled through the house covered in mud. Things didn’t go well after that – things that included a shower and pajamas. Ever since then, I have always associated pajamas/lounge pants with pasta and memory loss. Weird, but there you have it.
But I was willing to accept the lounge pants in order to avoid hurting Diana’s feelings, as long as they fit. They didn’t.
“What size are these?”
“They’re not going to fit.”
“The tag said 32-34 waist, and you’re a 33.”
“I don’t care what the tag says, they won’t fit.”
“Well, try them on.”
I tried them on.
“Oh you’re right, those don’t fit.”
“If I try to sit down, I’m going to cut off what little supply of testosterone I still have left.”
“Well don’t do that. Take them off and I’ll return them for a large.”
(Or we could just take them back and return them for shop towels or a socket wrench set) “Nothing, that sounds great.”
We went back to Sam’s. After we got out of the car, Diana grabbed my hand. Even though I’m in my 50s, I’m still kind of embarrassed to hold a girl’s hand in public. It’s probably some leftover teenage notion of it not being cool. I was never public-display-of-affection guy, but I always take her hand because it makes Diana happy. A young lady in her late teens passed us.
“OH MY GOD! You two are SO ADORABLE holding hands.”
I immediately started trying to shake off Diana’s hand, but she had a death grip on me, so we ended up looking like we were doing some kind of 1980s, break-dance, arm wave. Diana laughed and looked up at me.
“Oh, no. We’re that couple.”
“The cute, old couple.”
“I don’t want to be the cute, old couple. I want to be the hot, young couple that does it on the kitchen table.”
“Darling, I don’t think our kitchen table would hold us.”
“You’re probably right, and we can’t afford a new table right now.”
Once we got inside the store, Diana grabbed a cart and let go of my hand so she could turn her full attention to shopping. When she is in “shop mode,” she loses all sense of situational awareness. I have to spend most of my time running out ahead of her, screening and protecting other patrons so she doesn’t run them over. When Diana shops, she’s the only being in existence.
“Honey… Diana… Stop. There’s a four-year-old right in front of you.”
“Well, where did she come from?”
“She was standing there when we first turned down the aisle.”
“Oh, I never even saw her.”
Diana found a larger pair of lounge pants in the clothing section. I turned to head toward the check-out since we had clearly accomplished the purpose of our trip. I wasn’t quick enough.
“Oh, Honey, you would look so good in this. You always look good in fall colors.”
I turned around, and Diana was holding up a browny-orangy thermal shirt… with a V-neck.
“Ummm… it’s nice… do they have them in crew-neck?”
“I thought you liked V-necks.”
(Oh, for the love of…) “Well, V-necks are good on sweaters, but I think with these I’d rather have the crew neck.”
“Okay, fine, here’s one.”
“We also need some cereal. I saw they had blueberry Special K on sale.”
“Well, blueberries are my favorite.”
“Yes, I know.”
Later, as we walked back to the car, I figured that if the worst problems in my life were V-neck sweaters, a wife that won’t let go of my hand, lounge pants, and an overabundance of blueberry Special K (and those really are the worst of my problems), I don’t have it so bad.