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Shopping? I’m just my wife’s mule

“I’m just the mule,” I told the fellow as our eyes met in the clothing store aisle. “I’m just along to carry things.”
He nodded in agreement as we commiserated in the aisle while the our wives dove deeper into the clothing racks looking for that exact thing they wanted.
My fellow mule also nodded in agreement that we could have been in and out of there in half the time. Men are buyers, not shoppers. My wife had to explain the difference awhile back. Apparently, shopping is a pleasurable experience when in the right frame of mind.
I’m afraid my frame of mind got left on the floor … at home.
I have now reached that age where holding my wife’s purse, which gives her two hands to rummage through the racks and try on clothes, is now acceptable. Twenty years ago, I don’t think so. Now, if it gets her in and out of the dressing room faster, I’ll do it.
But then there is the inevitable test. “Do these make my butt look fat?” Or, “Does this blouse match with these pants?” I automatically say “no” to the first question and “yes” to whatever else she asks. Survival instincts.
She finally caught on when I always answered her inquiries of “How does this look on me? “
“You sure?”
“Yeah. They look good on you.”
“I don’t think I like them together.”
“Then why do you ask me?”
Wrong answer!
That’s when she figured out I tell her anything just to get the “shopping experience” over with. It backfired, and she slowed down even more, prolonging the agony.
She has three sisters. “Why not take them shopping with you? Your sisters will be brutally honest with you,“ I told her.
That would be nice, my wife replied, if they didn’t live in Iowa and South Dakota.
Minor details.
Actually, the “shopping experience” allowed me to people watch, one of my favorite pastimes, when I have nothing else to do, which, apparently that day, was the case.
We happened to be in a Twin Cities suburban mall, and the ethnic makeup of the shoppers is mind boggling. While my wife was in the shoe store trying on the umpteenth pair of sneakers, I was out in the mall observing. In that half hour, I saw all shapes, sizes and skin colors, along with a wide variety of foreign languages, many of which I did not recognize.
But what made my day was an overweight white fellow with a bowler hat and a short, braided goatee. He looked like a cross between Oliver Hardy of Laurel and Hardy fame and fictional detective Charlie Chan.
Wonder if he ever holds his wife’s purse?
Rich Glennie was the editor of The Chronicle for 23 years. He retired Aug. 1, but plans to submit an occasional column.