Can retail be rescued? Why so many U.S. stores are closing
If you’ve been following my column for a while, you probably know that fashion is not my thing. Comfort is my thing, and I consider any level of clothing above flip-flops and tank tops to be “formal wear.”
Unfortunately, my wife thinks such attire is not quite appropriate for events such as a wedding, including one we will be attending in about a month. I maintain that the Founding Fathers and Larry the Cable Guy have fought for my right to bare arms. She then maintains I have the right to remain silent. Quite frankly, I get a little confused on all these rights.
So we go to a mall. In the 1970s and ‘80s, these were places you could walk around in air-conditioned comfort and visit record stores, buy giant pretzels and browse clothing stores such as the Cool Teen Store, the Scary Teen Store, the I’m an Adult But Still Think I’m 18 Store and the I’m Old and Hope They Have Something in My Size Store. Many of those malls have been converted into outdoor malls so that we can enjoy the hottest years in Earth’s history, but I still prefer indoor malls, and we found one with a lot of what I would consider standard clothing stores — boring with no surprises, kinda like me.
I needed a new shirt, tie and slacks, and I figured we could find it all at the first store we saw. I wanted to get in and out in the same amount of time as a Talladega pit stop, but this store that once had women’s and men’s clothes now only had women’s clothes. As much as I wanted to make a statement with my fashion choices, that might be too much. Then I found out they had a separate men’s store a couple spaces down the mall.
That made sense. Women buying clothes don’t want to hear a bunch of guys like me griping about everything being uncomfortable and whining about the extravagant costs.
My wife had to accompany me because she knows that I will otherwise buy the first cheap items I see and feels that being married to me is probably embarrassment enough with yet another fashion faux pas. The least she can do to save face is to dress me like someone else. So we grab a pair of slacks in my size and a white shirt in a size I don’t really understand — 16 and a half. I think that was my Aunt Gladys’ size, too.
Of course, I try on the slacks and can’t button them. I guess “my size” is more relative to cargo shorts. The shirt might be in my size, but it takes me 20 minutes to disassemble it like it’s a bomb with all the deadly pins. It fits fine except for the too-tight top button that makes my look like a member of Blue Man Group or a taller Papa Smurf. Apparently I’m fairly regular sized but with Refrigerator Perry’s neck. That, or the people who wear such uncomfortable clothes on a daily basis all have Barney Fife’s body type.
During all this, my wife is standing outside the fitting room like my mommy and bringing me different things to try. Sensing my frustration from the yelling and beads of sweat on my forehead, she found something to make it all better.
“I’ve got a surprise for you — you’re gonna love it,” she said from outside the door.
“Does it have tequila?”
“No, but it has a volcano.”
Indeed, they were socks with a volcano on them. Only a woman would think some accessory would make it all better. She even brought some belts for no particular reason. She took them back when the look on my face went from Papa Smurf to Hellraiser.
After we spent my life savings on these items to make me conform and be uncomfortable, she played smooth jazz in the car in an effort to calm me down as I began ranting about ties, the most useless clothing items on the planet.
“Don’t talk to me about ties!” she yelled. “I bet the person who came up with ties also came up with bras!”
“There’s a difference,” I explained. “Women love a fella all dressed up in a tie, but if a woman wants to shed her bra, guys are all for it.”
“That’s because you’re all dogs!”
“No, we’re just supportive,” I said. “And dogs don’t wear ties. They clearly have more brains than we do.”
“That’s the first thing you’ve said today that made any sense.”
“Yeah, well don’t get used to it.”
Get more from Chris Johnson at KudzuKid.com.