Gatehouse – I am proud to announce today that I have recently doubled my own personal cache of pants.
This is extraordinary news, because I am a pretty big fan of pants. I’ve been known to wear them every day, sometimes. But it’s mostly noteworthy because it represents a triumph on my part: that I was able to successfully complete a clothes-shopping trip, an activity that I usually approach with about as much enthusiasm as if I were asked to whip up a nice omelette of several freshly hatched sea turtle eggs. (Note to animal-rights enthusiasts: I’m kidding, I’m kidding. I know this can’t be done, like it can with baby alligators.)
I’ve never been much of a shopper. Generally when the need arises for clothes replacement — because something has torn, or soaked in shrimp-dipping butter, or it’s become apparent that 1993 Bon Jovi “Keep The Faith” shirts are no longer acceptable outerwear — I approach the trip like a military excursion: Identify task, complete task, shock and awe. I will have a clearly defined objective — PURCHASE BLACK SHIRT, for instance — and invade the store with the intent of identifying, securing and obtaining that black shirt and retreating back to camp as expediently as possible. I’m basically Batman with his cool night-vision-sonar thing: SCANNING FOR BLACK SHIRT. BLACK SHIRT LOCATED. BLACK SHIRT SORT OF FITS YOU. DIRECTIVE; PURCHASE BLACK SHIRT, AND THEN MAYBE A CINNABON AFTER. SCANNING FOR REGISTER. IT’S OVER THERE. LET’S GET OUT OF HERE, ALTHOUGH WE SHOULD PROBABLY STOP AND GET SOCKS TOO, BECAUSE MANY OF YOURS LOOK AS THOUGH THEY’VE BEEN CHEWED THROUGH BY THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR.
Note that my sonar does not require my clothes to actually FIT me. It is for this reason that my closet is essentially a hodgepodge of clothes that either sort of fit, looked at first glance like they might fit or were on the absurdly cheap sale rack and were within about 10 feet of my preferred waist size. This is not a joke: I once took inventory of my dress pants, which took a surprisingly brief amount of time, since I owned a grand total of four, and discovered that each was its own individual size. And not like one or two measurements off; I mean it was like I was randomly selecting pants for a debate team I had never met. This might startle the average shopper, but it makes perfect sense, as I’m reasonably sure each was purchased in my preferred being-in-store window of under 19 seconds.
But just like with anything, after a few decades of this one begins to wonder if one should begin putting a little more back into one’s self-presentation, so I thought it might be time to slow down the process. It helped that I had some time to slow, as this trip unfolded without my usual 4-year-old accompaniment, bopping up and down like a Whac-A-Mole and reporting that he needs to go potty every eight minutes. He knows that saying “I need to go potty” is an automatic attention-getter; it’s not like I’m going to say, “You know what Jake, Daddy just found a pair of boot-cut distressed 32/34 jeans that are ON SALE that he needs to try on, so just you tie down the hose for one hot minute.”
So I tried to do what I imagine most people do: take their time, search for decent prices, and find shirts that match pants. I am told this is called “creating an outfit,” and is a version of what I do in the morning, which is to attempt to magically invent new permutations of the about three shirt/pant combinations generally available to me. I even spent some time in the fitting room, which for anyone who knows me is slightly less surprising than if I were to report that I attended the midnight screening of “Mamma Mia!” with two trays of homemade strawberry cupcakes.
It turns out was a good move, because it enabled me to find clothes that didn’t fit RIGHT THERE AT THE STORE, rather than when I usually discover that, which is home that night when I’m unpacking and subsequently deciding that returning the non-fitting item is way too much work.
Anyway, armed with this new and magnificent plan, I successfully obtained like four brand-spanking-new pairs of pants, some shirts that matched them and a pair of sunglasses, because by the end of my revelatory trip I was pretty much feeling like what’s-her-name in “Sex and the City,” except not quite a shockingly materialistic bore.
This is how I shop, in these weird lively bursts, and they’re big enough news to me that I’m still writing about them. You can keep your fashion trends, and your occasional wardrobe updates: The items that I purchased on this trip will last me like three years, or until one of them gets coated in shrimp-butter.