Kevin Page: Measurement key to successful shop

By Kevin Page

A couple of weeks back, we had one of those rare times when the weekend is entirely your own.

There was no pressing maintenance to do, lawns to mow, dog poo to scoop up, visits to make. It was just a weekend for us. So we headed for the beach.

I got a team of sherpas to carry my beloved's bags to the car and after jamming the kitchen sink into the boot we headed to a favourite waterfront spot at Ohope, just in time for a superb coffee at the Saturday morning market.

A stroll along the beach in the sun had us both in a relaxed frame of mind and I found myself agreeing to "a bit" of shopping. Such was my mood I may have even grabbed Mrs P in a passionate embrace (in the sun; on the beach; gentle lapping of the waves on the shore ... ) and whispered an expression of my affection to her in Spanish. You get the picture.

Anyway, within minutes I found myself shopping for clothes with my wife in Whakatane.

And I've discovered it's all a matter of measurements.

Not hers, or the clothing ... more exactly how close should a man get to the action.

Let me explain.

We walk into the shop looking for an item. The exact thing escapes me, but it may have been black trousers.

Apparently every woman needs a pair of black trousers. They go with anything ... even the other pair of black trousers I am sure she bought last time we went clothes shopping.

So. I accompany Mrs P into the shop. There are several other women already in there sifting through the multitude of items on the display racks. We begin our search.

I am perhaps 75cm away from Mrs P.

The other women do not appear to like this and I am acutely aware of being stared at. It's a stare that suggests I may be a bit of a sod actually. "You're too close," they say in unison (not literally of course, but I know what they're thinking).

"Give her some room. Poor woman. She doesn't need your approval."

I take this on board and consider whether Dan Carter could slip a line-breaking pass to Ma'a Nonu in that same space. Would there be enough room? Probably. But to make absolutely sure of relaxed, shopping success I'm going to back off a bit. I increase the space to 100cm.

"Where you going?" says Mrs P.

"I'm making room for Dan Carter's pass," I reply, which wins me a puzzled look and a request to hold her handbag.

Now, this is one of the hardest things a man will ever have to do. How do you hold your wife's handbag ... in a women's clothing shop without looking uncomfortable?

On crooked elbow while looking through the clothes rack? If you didn't look dodgy before you will now. How about straight down in front of you with two hands? Perfect, now you look like a sulky little boy who doesn't want to be there at all.

Think I might just move away a bit more and turn round while I figure out just how to hold it. And its heavy, too. She must have the taps to go with the kitchen sink in there.

Now I'm 3m away, holding her bag (awkwardly) and I'm facing in the other direction - straight at the women's changing rooms. And the door just opened.

"You bloody pervert. What are you staring at? Get out of here," the disapproving, subliminal voices scream at me again as I avert my gaze.

There's an art to this, too. It only requires a shift of 10cm either side or down but, if it's done too suddenly, it confirms you were staring. I slowly shift my gaze down, to the worn carpet where generations of husbands have stood shamefacedly having fallen into the same trap.

It's time to beat a hasty retreat. I hand over the bag and tell Mrs P I'm going to have a browse in the sports shop next door. Her disappointed look suggests I'm going to need a lot of Spanish whispers to recover lost ground.

Either that or I go and buy a tape measure.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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