"Father's Day is tomorrow," said the wife, "Let's go to the mall so that I can shop for you." I agreed, having the need to buy myself a pair of office (home) pants (jeans), but something nagged at me. What was it?
"I've got a lot of things to buy, some for you and some for Daisy, so let's split up. What do you need to get?" asked my lovely and considerate wife.
"Jeans. I need a good pair of jeans," I replied, wondering what else I was forgetting.
We walked into the mall and it hit me. MOTHER'S DAY! Over a month had passed since Mother's Day and I still hadn't bought her anything. I don't like to get more than one holiday behind in my shopping, so I realized that now was the time. I quickly assessed the situation and came up with a competent plan.
"OhcrapMothersDay!" I blurted out in pure panic, "Jesus, what the hell do you want for Mother's Day?!?!" She thought for a moment.
"Well, I'd really like a new refrigerator...", she started while my eyes began to roll, "but I know you won't buy me one of those, so how about some cute sandals for summer?"
Sandals? This was maybe the worst idea ever. Although I have a vague idea about how big my wife's feet are, I have no concept of what distinguishes the world's nicest sandals from the world's ugliest sandals. Buckles? Glow in the dark fur? No clue.
"Babe, I can't buy you shoes!" I whined, "What other ideas do you have?"
"Well, I need some new sunglasses."
"Oh, man" I lamented, "Ok, imagine this. Imagine there's a huge rack of sunglasses in front of you, but you're forced to pick a pair with your eyes closed. What are the odds that you'll like those sunglasses?"
"Hmmm, probably not too good."
"Ok, well, I'm not an idiot, so you can probably double those odds, but still, odds are that you're going to end up with sunglasses that you hate. What else you got?"
She dug a little deeper. "I need new shirts. Every day I go into that closet and I can't find shirts to wear. I know you can buy me a shirt!"
This was a possibility. I have, in the past, come home with acceptable shirts for the wife. I needed more data though. "Tell me what kind of shirt!"
"I need shirts that I can wear with jeans. My shirts don't go well with jeans. And they need to have a feminine collar. It should be obvious to someone whether the shirt goes on your side of the closet or mine."
Ok, I've bought feminine products before. Obviously she wanted a shirt with wings or some similar feminine artifact.
We went our separate ways and I made a beeline for the shoe department at Nordstrom. Although I'd never bought my wife non-sneaker-shoes, extra effort was required here considering that this gift was 5 weeks late. I was pleased to see that Nordstrom was having a huge sale with tons of discounted merchandise.
Ok, cute sandals, cute sandals, cute sandals. I browsed the many display tables and quickly realized that not only was I unable to distinguish the cute sandals from the ugly ones, I couldn't even tell which shoes were sandals.
In the mens department this is a no-brainer. The sandals are the things that don't completely cover your feet. They have straps of some sort. My programmer brain had long ago come up with the If-There-Are-Straps-Then-They-Are-Sandals algorithm. In the women's department, however, like 80% of the shoes are strappy. What the hell? I ruled out anything with high heels, but that still left about 50% of the merchandise to consider.
I pondered the half-inch-heels strappy things with bows, and the flat-soled strappy things with buckles, and the flip-flop-esque ones, and then my brain broke. So, I sought out a salesperson and gave her my sob story.
"I need sandals, but how can anyone really tell which ones are sandals, and which ones are just strappy shoes? So, I need the sandal kind of shoe, but cute ones, but not Hello Kitty cute, because I don't think she'd dig sparkles or mouthless cats, but cute nontheless. Do you have shoes like that, please?"
The sales lady/savior showed me several pairs of shoes that she assured me were sandals. Eventually we found a pair that looked like my wife MIGHT like them. Naturally, they didn't have her size in stock, so I bought a different pair instead, essentially dooming this mission to failure. In an attempt to throw good money after bad, I also tossed some pink flip-flops on the tab. I'm not sure what made me think that my wife might like pink flip-flops, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Now I had two things that I was certain she'd return, but really three is the magic number, so I went to the shirt department and tried to pick out a feminine shirt. I found one that seemed acceptable and showed it to the nearest female shopper. "Are these sleeves ugly?" I asked.
She grimaced and nodded. "Also, I don't like the fabric although the color is nice," she added.
What? Nice? Woohoo! It's nice! I promptly marched the shirt up to the register.
Soon afterwards I met up with my wife, each of us with our gifts in tow. We walked past a sunglass rack and I stopped her. "Cover your eyes and point at the sunglass rack, " I commanded. She humored me and did what I asked, pointing at a hideous pair of bejeweled glasses.
"Seeeeeee?" I said, proud that I had proved my point about my own shopping incomptence.
Anyway, I'm pretty sure I'm 0 for 3 on this holiday. I'll let you know the official score soon