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When the Shopping Gets Tough


There is one particular recurring and unavoidable event in my life, which every time it comes round, has me thinking, "I'll just leave it a bit longer. I'll do it next week." A week later, I'm saying, "Maybe next week ..." I put it off, again and again, until it becomes just impossible to delay any longer, and I'm absolutely forced into going.

You're probably thinking that you can guess what this thing is ... the dentist, right? No. You're wrong! I go to the dentist for check-ups regularly, and learned long ago that delay in that case only makes things much worse. No, what I have in mind is an activity that is completely non-threatening, at least to normal people, but which for some reason, just isn't my 'cup of tea' ... buying clothes. My dislike of clothes shopping is really quite strong, and I procrastinate endlessly before going. My jeans have to have become tattered rags before I can bring myself to "get it over with", and head down to the shops.

This aversion truly is intense. No sooner do I step through the door into the shop, whether small local one or large department store, than I can feel the sweating start. My hands get clammy, and my eyes flicker here and there nervously. The sales clerks probably think I'm about to rob the place! The sequence of events is inevitably the same; I wander around until I find the pair of jeans, or shirt, or whatever, that seems closest to what I'm already wearing, and then try and figure out what size is suitable. I can never remember whether my shirts are 'M' or 'L', or whether my jeans are 28 waist or 30, it's always such a long time since I bought the previous ones. But it doesn't make any difference even if I do remember. For example, the sales clerk might foist an 'L' shirt on me (in her mind 'gaijin' invariably equals 'L' size), but when I get home and try it on, I find that I've bought a tent, not a shirt, and for the next half a year or so, I have to wear this baggy floppy thing. When next I go, I might remember this experience, and buy an 'M' size instead. But of course, this turns out to be much too tight, and I burst the buttons. Don't misunderstand. It's not my body that changes. My weight has been absolutely consistent ever since I was a teenager, and it never goes up and down (although I must admit that I have put a couple of kilos on my chest since I started daily swimming a few years ago). It's the sizes that are inconsistent from maker to maker, and from shop to shop.

As a result of this idiotic behaviour of mine, I almost never have things to wear that I feel comfortable in, and consequently grow to dislike clothes more and more. It's a vicious cycle, only broken when I receive some article of clothing as a gift. These are always things I would never, ever buy for myself, and thus are inevitably the most tasteful, best-fitting clothes that I own. If I ever meet you, and you think that my clothes look OK, you can be assured that they were purchased for me by somebody else. If I look like the more typical 'me', bedraggled and ill-fitted, then you know I've been shopping for myself again ...

The contrast between my perverse behaviour, and my daughters' attitude to clothes shopping, will thus come as no surprise to you. They love it, and can never have enough new things to wear. Of course, as sprouting youngsters, they do need a lot of new clothes, and luckily for me, they are completely capable of selecting well-fitted, suitable clothes for themselves (although it does take rather a lot of time!). It is to my eternal relief that they are not in the slightest bit interested in having me along when they are shopping. As any parent of teens can attest, they only want my wallet.

And now, as I write this, the perfect solution to my little 'problem' comes to mind. I should ask my two daughters to do my clothes shopping for me! They might not be so willing at first, but if I were to bribe them a bit with the suggestion that they could also pick up something for themselves at the same time ...

I think maybe I'll give it a try. They certainly couldn't do any worse than I do for myself, and probably quite the opposite. So, maybe next time we meet, beware! Perhaps I'll be quite the fashionable young gentleman!