The Couple That Shops Together

Christmas shopping with our mates isn’t always the wisest decision, but we do it anyway

Dan Ingersoll

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

After 39 years of marriage, my wife and I know better than to shop together – most of the time. Once a year or so she makes the proposal: “Honey, I know you don’t want to do this, but do you think just this one time” – every year – “we can go Christmas shopping together? We can make it fun!”

I thought we were done Christmas shopping. Just last week I put in the new toilet (American Standard Super Turbo Flush with Comfort Height Seating and Soft Close Technology), which we both agreed was our gift to each other. Last week I had stopped by Kohl’s and picked up the socks and underwear for “the boys” which I planned to supplement with a little cash in a sock. A book for my dad, some fruit and candy for the stockings, and we’re golden – right?

People watching requires some skill. To look, analyze, and speculate without staring. Do not make eye contact. Two women wearing hijabs and traditional clothing approached. At first all I saw was the clothing, the hijab, but then I realized I was looking at one of their faces – a strikingly beautiful face. I was staring. Eye contact was made. I was embarrassed.

We parked at JCPenney, as was the plan. From there it was on to Scheels, Old Navy, Rue 21, Bath & Body Works, Ulta, back to Penneys, then Younkers and finally Target.

Scheels was good. I bought some shoelaces and tried on a pair of shoes. But things went downhill as we moved from store to store. “Lots of cheap clothes at great prices made in Third World countries with child labor,” I said.

“Honey could you at least try and not be so negative?” my wife responded. By the time we hit the Bath & Body Works, she looked at me and said, “I’m sorry, you really didn’t need to come for this, did you?”

“No kidding,” is what I did not say. How was I supposed to shop for her nieces? “You know what, though, your support really means a lot to me,” she said. I said, “You bet!” 

We both agreed that the best place for me was the little couch seating area outside of Ulta. “Just hang out and people watch,” she said. “It won’t take me too long.”

It was 4pm at Oakwood Mall on a Sunday afternoon and the Packers had won. There were entire Packer families decked out in jerseys as well a good number of individuals sporting oversized Packer styles. NASCAR girls were hanging on Carhart boys, a mom and four girls all under age five were happily walking hand in hand, and a “terrible two” was screaming the length of the mall as she ran in front of her mother who was pushing her stroller.

People watching requires some skill. To look, analyze, and speculate without staring. Do not make eye contact. Two women wearing hijabs and traditional clothing approached. At first all I saw was the clothing, the hijab, but then I realized I was looking at one of their faces – a strikingly beautiful face. I was staring. Eye contact was made. I was embarrassed. I smiled a dumb smile. She looked down for just a second and then – as I was about to look away – she smiled a warm, friendly, and beautiful smile back at me. And that was “it” – the moment when two humans at Oakwood Mall in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, transcended outward cultural differences and smiled at one another.

At 5:30 pm, my wife returned. “Only Penneys, Younkers, and Target to go! Thanks for your support, honey!”

“You bet,” I said.

“Can’t wait until next year,” I did not say.

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