In common with most males I know, I do not like shopping. My idea of shopping is to do it only when absolutely necessary, to know what you want to buy, get to the shop, find it, buy it and get out as quickly as possible thereafter. The female of the species, of course, generally regards shopping as an entertainment, a recreational pastime to be indulged at the slightest hint of an excuse and to be spun out for hours by endlessly browsing through all manner of items that you never knew you wanted.
At this time of year, of course, I’m forced into shopping more than I’d like by peer pressure. I might be able to resist the commercial pressure but the peer pressure is a little more difficult. Christmas may ultimately be fun but the run-up to Christmas is stressful even though Carol gamely does most of the work. During December we inevitably end up at the shops together. Also inevitably we sometimes end up in the ladies’ clothing departments. While the aforementioned endless browsing is going on, as a hanger-on, I have to hang around waiting somewhere. It’s high time shops made provision for men to wait in comfort while their loved ones, in some cases their wives [Ed: humble apologies, I stole that from Bob Hewhart’s submarine captain sketch], endlessly browse. A few chairs would be nice but, no, chairs are there none. Anyway, it was in my guise as a hanger-on that I began noticing a strange phenomenon.
My usual hanger-on approach is to look for a rack containing what appear to be the garments least likely to be of interest to any sane individual and to stand by that. Within minutes, sometimes within seconds, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be in the way of someone suddenly wanting to inspect the garments. I look for another improbable collection of threads and stand by those. Same again; someone turns up to give my second choice a scrutinizing examination. Move again and, yes, of course, it happens again. Luminous pink bell-bottom jeans, radioactive green business suits, it matters not. When I stand by them, they simply fly over to the cashiers.
Recently the same phenomenon has spread to supermarkets. Wherever I park myself and my trolley whilst Carol is sorting through the washing machine products, someone will need to get passed me to the the bright pink, texture-free “value” sausages or to the tripe. I haven’t tried standing by the tofu yet but I bet if I did, even that would sell. It never fails; my apparent powers of attraction are completely uncanny.
I’m thinking of hiring myself out to shops to help them push specific lines. Pay me a decent hourly sum, tell me what isn’t selling and I’ll go and stand by the offending items looking thoughtfully elsewhere. The hitherto unappealing line behind me will be gone in no time flat making plenty of space for the next slice of marketing brilliance.