Recently, my significant other (who will be called Siggo in this piece) and I reached a new frontier in our relationship. We went clothes shopping together in both the Mens and Womens departments.
Siggo and I have shopped together before. One of the highlights of our trip to Ireland was Kenny's Bookshop in Galway. I have accompanied him to Home Depot three times and now consider any trip to the Men's Toy Store to be a serious endurance workout. We can't just go to one section of the store---we have to go to alllll the sections of the store. Siggo is a serious fixer-upper type.
Recently, Siggo and I went to Ikea to pick out a light fixture for him to install in my house. While hiking through the idealized bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms for the modern urban hip person with not much money, Siggo was heard saying ‘Look at this shit, it's fucking junk' and ‘fucking particle board---way over priced' and ‘I could build a futon for you if you want'. Actually, Siggo did build a futon for his living room after going into Ikea with a measuring tape. Handy with tools, this one is.
On Sunday, after a nice sushi lunch in Santa Monica, we decided to walk around a bit and ended up supporting the US economy. The first store we went into is my favorite trashy Euro clothes shop where I can sometimes find nice clothes with a good line at a reasonable price. Siggo talked me into trying on a brown sporty jacket, and I discovered I looked pretty good in it. So much for my anti-brown stance, but it was so cute. Siggo didn't protest my picking up a pair of really cute shoes with roses on them. However, he did sigh at my trying on a steel blue hooded sweater.
‘Not another hoody' he said as he looked up trying to find solace from the goddess of fashion.
‘But it's blue.' I said. I didn't have a blue hoody.
Since I was happy with my garments, we moved onto the mens section which took up significantly less space than the womens section. Nevertheless, we were on a mission for summer shirts and sweaters.
While looking around the mens section, I realized that men were slightly different from women in how they viewed themselves in relationship to their clothes. Most men just want the basics---easy stuff that doesn't look bad on them. They seem to know what they like and get a half dozen of that. Some guys like to dress it up a bit, but not as extreme as women.
I fell into my girlfriend role quite easily. I steered Siggo away from the orange sweater and got him to at least try on the nice leather jacket. When he found some shirts he wanted to try on, we headed over toward the mens changing room. Siggo went in and I hung around near the entrance. I was within shouting distance, but not too close.
As I stood there trying not to be bored by all the shirts and ties in summer colors, I noticed that I was not the only female in the vicinity. In fact, cubes were set up near the changing room for the women folk in uncomfortable shoes. To my knowledge, there was no comfortable seating near the womens changing rooms.
Not all of us were sitting. One woman mid to late thirties kept picking up dress shirts with purple stripes and passing them in to her husband in the changing room. At first, I was in awe of her. She was so in charge, so strong. ‘Honey, you're gonna wear this.' Woman power. Rah!
Then, I remembered the last time I saw a female passing clothes into a male in a changing room environment. It was twenty years ago. The female was my mother, and the male was my younger brother. Oh no. Right there in the middle of the mens section, I resolved to the fab five and all the gods of fashion and style to not turn into Siggo's mother. He's a grown up. He knows how to try on a shirt.
I noticed other things by the mens changing room. Most men only had two or three things to try on. If you were to look at a line for the womens changing room, the majority of the women probably have six or seven garments. In fact, the longer the changing room line, the more garments you gotta take in. Make the changing room time count, darn it. But the men just stood there holding their one or two pieces of clothing like old rags used to wipe their car tires. Maybe they figured that's where the clothing will end up anyway, so better get use to holding it that way.
Siggo emerged from the changing room and said that nothing fit well enough to get. He went to put the clothes back on the rack before I had a chance to tell him that he should just give the rejects to the guy folding the clothes right inside the changing room. That was his job---to refold the rejects. Oh well, someday I will pass on my changing room knowledge to him.
We also went to the Gap that day. However, the Gap was uneventful as the Gap tends to be. After all, outside the shopping context, the word ‘Gap' brings to mind a break, a hole, the part of something that is not there. In the subway, I do mind the gap. While shopping, I don't mind the Gap too much even though they use third world sweatshops and the bitchiest girls in my class worked there during high school and I don't really like those sweatshirts with ‘GAP' in big letters across the chest. Still, Siggo found a nice blue shirt (to add to his two dozen blue shirts) and a nice grey sweater (no hood).
As the sun set over the Pacific, we realized that we didn't have quite as many shopping bags as most people but we didn't really mind. We decided to get some crepes and coffee before carrying our stash back to the car.