Lost in stores that smell really good

Note: This column appears in the 12/15 issue of The Glendale Star and the 12/16 issue of the Peoria Times

I do almost all of my holiday shopping online. There are, however, rare instances whereby unnecessary shipping costs or in-store-only coupons force me against my will to venture out in public and shop in human form.

These instances always involve shopping for my wife because—let’s be honest—she’s the only person I have to shop for. These instances also usually involve me having to enter the unfamiliar and intimidating realm of the female-centric store.

My knowledge of what my wife actually wants from these stores is typically limited to, “I know she shops here, I think.” As a result, upon entering the store I immediately seek out an employee from the all-female staff, which is not difficult as they usually spot me first thanks to the glazed look of bewilderment on my face and also because I am blocking traffic.

I always preface these conversations by specifying that I am shopping for my wife. I honestly don’t know if I do this as some sort of subconscious, machismo defense-mechanism, like, “Don’t you think for a second I’m shopping for myself!” If so, that is dumb, and I imagine each female employee has thought to herself upon hearing this, “Oh really? You, with your t-shirt that reads ‘Fantasy football legend,’ are not here to buy strawberry-scented foot lotion for yourself? What a surprise.”

The next question is, “Well, what does your wife like?” This one always gets me. I mean, I know what my wife likes, but it’s usually better if she tells me first. So I will say something like, “She likes television a lot. She has dark brown hair. She’s a woman. Does that help?”

This past weekend I ventured yet again into foreign land, into what is my least favorite female-centric store. I have been in there several times before with my wife and have always dreaded it. There is nothing I can do while she looks around. There is nothing I can even look at without thinking, “If someone saw me looking at this, they would think I am a weird person or not a man.” I literally have to stand in the middle of the store staring at the exit until she’s ready to go.

But at least this time I knew what I had to get. My wife, who had astutely spotted a coupon from a different female-centric store that we received in the mail and that I had set aside to use, told me not to go there, as there was nothing she wanted from that store. Instead, she specifically told me what she wanted from this other store and even gave me a coupon and her rewards card so she could earn enough points for free bath lotion or whatever. Sure, this part of her Christmas gift wouldn’t be a surprise, but it also wouldn’t disappoint.

Of course, just because I knew what to get didn’t mean I knew where it was. Also, I had forgotten the coupon my wife had given me at home and left her rewards card in the car. If my whereabouts had left me uncertain, my idiocy was a deft reminder that, yes, I am a man! My desperate pleas for mercy at the register earned me all the necessary discounts and rewards. Also, in my wanderings I was reminded that this store carries a face wash I use. More rewards!

Yeah, I use a particular face wash. My wife found it for me years ago after she realized I was using bar soap on my face, which is apparently not good for your face since, as she pointed out, you also use it on your butt and armpits. She’s the best. She has dark brown hair.


night owl said…
I refuse to enter that store. I wait in the car.

Our Ulta appears to be much more "girly" than the one in that picture. I think it's made entirely out of glass and is the brightest store I have ever seen in my life. You can see everything in the store from about a half mile away.

If I ever walked in there, I'm quite sure my maleness would turn on some sensor and pulverize me.
mkenny59 said…
Night Owl, funny you should mention that -- I really struggled with the Google image search for Ulta, and pretty much gave up with the one I chose. You are 100% correct that Ultas are traditionally blinding glass houses that run on perfume. Compared to the one I actually went into, that picture might as well be Gold's Gym. Also, next time, like you, I will wait in the car and order what I need from my phone. Thanks for the comment!
Dad2 said…
Hi Mike
I think a Christmas registry might help after all nowadays items that were on the shelf last month are becoming obsolete I never have any idea what to get but you are in the right store I agree