And I wonder what goes on in a man’s head during shopping trips. Do you think I nailed it?
I do not know how they talked me into it. Let me think. Oh, yeah. It was dear old mom, proclaiming her wish to visit the mall before being put to eternal slumber. It was Zoha, too, claiming proof of my undying love. Does filial duty and holy matrimony depend on becoming the family driver? That’s what it seems nowadays. Life is not fair.
I’d regret it, I knew. But I did it. If driving four miles in the rush hour to the nearest shopping centre with incessant female chatter boring into one’s ears is not proof of filial and marital loyalty, I don’t know what is.
To begin with, they wanted shoes. I steered them to the nearest outlet and spent half an hour watching them pull every footwear within reach off the shelves. It was Cinderella redone, minus the prince. The prince was off-duty, observing from a safe distance. After thirty minutes’ worth of bargain-hunting, they decided that that store was not for them. Enough to satisfy the common populace, but not for thrift-queens. They evacuated the store at full speed. I trailed after them.
The next shop housed miracles of every description, enough to entertain the two for twenty minutes, but not sufficient to entice them to a purchase. Then it suddenly struck Zoha that a newly-opened and very popular shoe store was just across the mall. She proceeded to lead us on a wild goose chase after this elusive establishment. Every person we asked pointed to a different point of the compass, until we had trudged through every part of the mall, but the white stag of our hunt was not to be found.
At that point mom announced that she was not leaving until she had procured an instrument to adorn her feet, so she and Zoha set off with renewed vigour to scour all the houses of footwear the mall had to offer. We went to shoe-palaces, we went to shoe-huts; we haggled over sandals, we bargained over high-heels; we combed every shelf of every store, but could not bring ourselves to buy anything. I say “we” because a man’s quest to protect his women from weird shopkeepers while those women strive to empty their man’s wallet is a noble and chivalrous mission, worthy of notice.
Finally, I refused to go on any further. I told them, quite seriously, that I loved them dearly, and had sacrificed three and a half hours to the cause, but was not going to endure much more. Upon this, they conferred among themselves, and came to the conclusion that the object of their desire lay in the very first shop we had entered. We set out towards this shop, but we couldn’t find it! After ten minutes or so, Zoha shrieked at the sight of our destination, and we hurried in. The friendly shopkeeper informed us, in tones of calculated tactfulness, that he had sold that very pair only five minutes before, but if we were interested, he could show us some new designs…
I shepherded the protesting ladies out of the shop, out of the mall and into the car, and drove in a smouldering silence calculated to quell the strongest soul. Mom didn’t even dare suggest a visit to the tailor’s.