Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What W Wants

A few days ago, during the final days of my visit to the US of A, I was given an unenviable task by a female relative - that of buying a gift for another female relative - and this gift had to be a piece of apparel. I agreed, little knowing what I had signed up for.

So I entered a store and demurely walked to the section featuring female clothes. As I uneasily ventured close to the section, horrific memories long forgotten began to arise in my mind. Long waits inside small stuffy shops with little or no ventilation, in the heat of summer, where I stood watching dear female relative calmly ask the shop attendant to unload the entire shelf of clothes on the counter while she even more calmly sifted through the pile sorting them into "Strong Possibility Of Buying", "Can't Make Up My Mind About This One", "Maybe" and "No Way". I would stand and wonder what on earth would take her so long to make up her mind. If my male relative or me wanted to buy a shirt it was basically - Walk Into Store, Look at 2-3 choices, Pick 1, Pay, Walk Out" - In and Out in 10 minutes TOPS. And here we were for almost an hour and dear female relative seemed in no mood to make up her mind. And when she did, the long waits outside the trial room lasted another 30 minutes. Another 30 minutes of price haggling followed before a triumphant She and a miserable I walked out of the store, bags and my poor aching legs in tow.

Anyways I digress.

It'll all be over soon, I told myself. After all you are alone. Little did I know the fate that awaited me. It is said that manufacturers and advertisers and stores design the entire store around the female shopping psyche. How True ! As I walked down the innumerable aisles that comprised the female apparel section, I was conscious of a foreboding feeling and a growing sense of helplessness - perhaps the kind that someone who was told to climb a hill would feel when he discovered that the hill in question was Mount Everest and that he had neither the skills nor the required oxygen for the journey.

C H O I C E - C H O I C E - C H O I C E !
C O N F U S I O N - C O N F U S I O N - C O N F U S I O N !

What to buy ? Will she like this or that ? Is this too fashionable or not enough ? Am I paying too much or too little ? What about the color ? O M G what size was I supposed to pick up ? Eek!- I am thinking like a woman !!!

A sweat broke out on my brow as I faced increased doubts about my ability to complete my mission. Silently I cursed the moment I had eagerly signed up for this assignment. I have run 10K races, gone for days without sleep but this was totally out of my league.

A sudden movement behind me caused me to turn suddenly. It was a female shopper who looked uncomfortably at me as she passed the section where I stood in utter confusion. She gave me a look - not quite THE look - but something with a mixture of pity, contempt, irritation - almost like "What are YOU doing here ?" I turned away only to face another female shopper. This time, the look was quite like the one you see a lioness give to a animal (on National Geographic Channel) that has trespassed on its territory. I retreated 2 steps.

All right I told myself - lets get this done and get OUT !

Not that easy right ! Many confused choices and rejections, cold unfriendly stares and buckets of perspiration later, I picked something I thought was right and ventured out of the section, ran to the aisles, paid for the item and almost ran into the parking lot, relieved the ordeal was over.

A few days later I handed the bag with the apparel to my female relative hoping for an award of some sort for all I had been through. What I got instead was a disdainful look and words to the effect "I should have never asked you to do this in the first place. Do you even think she will wear something like this" ?

Shocked and hurt, I walked away licking my wounds. I silently wowed never to accept such a task EVER again. My thoughts went to a movie I saw a few years ago "What Woman Wants" starring Mel Gibson. In that movie, Mel went through similar torment until he was struck by lightning. That finally gave him the ability to think and reason like women. Wow - does one have to be struck by lightning to gain an insight into the female psyche ?

I have nothing against women. You make wonderful mothers, sisters, aunts, nieces, friends, classmates, colleagues, bosses. But PLEASE PLEASE don't ask me to shop for you again - EVER !!

Ain't nothing spiritual about this post right :-) But it was a life's lesson well learnt !

Jai Guru Dev,