Sense and Fashion

My children were stunned today. They observed that two boxes, each containing a brand new pair of shoes, had been left by the front door.

“Who are those for?” they asked, obviously intrigued and secretly hoping against hope that they had personally been the surprise recipients of an unexpected article of clothing.

“Those are for me,” I replied.

By the look on their faces, I could immediately tell that they were stunned.

“B-b-b-both are for you?” they blubbered.

I replied, “Yes indeed, they’re both for me. And you see that big bag containing three new shirts and two new pairs of pants? Those are all for me too.”

My children just about went into anaphylactic shock at this new revelation. I knew exactly what they were thinking. “How could my father, a father who works his finger nails to the quick to provide them with every little thing that their heart desires, a father who would crawl on his belly over hot shards of broken glass to remove a splinter from their thumb and comfort them afterward with an ice-cream cone, a father who sacrifices the very Essence of his Being on a Daily Basis (imagine violins reaching a crescendo right about now) to Secure Their Future, how could the same father go out shopping for clothes and NOT buy any for us????”

I blame myself for this. This is because when I take any particular child out shopping for clothes, the other two immediately cling to my legs begging that I take them along as well. They insist that they don’t need or want anything for themselves; they just want to come along for the sheer ecstasy of spending hours in a crowded department store watching the Chosen One try on some new clothes that are not for them. So I give in and bring them along, and at the end of the shopping excursion, I have spent three times as much as I had originally budgeted for.

So I can understand their shock at my going out shopping – without them – for clothes for myself. This is a rare event akin to the Chicago Cubs going to the World Series. I always bring my wife along to share the pain. My wife does not mind coming along with me because, deep down in her soul, she knows that her eternal salvation depends upon her peace with my wearing old, wrinkled, torn shirts and pants to an important meeting with a client who could float our mortgage for the next three years.

Thus my wife wisely accompanies me on any clothes shopping expedition. Because she knows that left alone, I would probably bring home the equivalent of used pieces of plastic garbage bags sewn loosely together with shipping twine. I do not consider myself to be much of a fashion plate, not even a fashion desert bowl for that matter; I therefore have a rather careless attitude when it comes to picking out clothes for myself.

So on our latest excursion, I only purchased items that passed the following rigorous series of tests:

1. Presence of a price tag;

2. Worth the price exceeding $3.95;

3. Had a price somewhat less than our minivan; and

4. Was not some mutant color of Lime Puce Pumpkin.

Did I say fit?

Using this timeless set of criteria, it only took us about 14 hours to pick out my two new pairs of shoes, three new shirts and two new pairs of pants. On our next shopping excursion, we plan on trying out some accessories like socks, ties and belts. Then I can once again go out to an important meeting with a client dressed in something other than my paint coveralls.

Nick Burn is a freelance writer, husband, father of three, engineer, teacher, and webmaster for the Canadian Catholic Information Network. In his spare time (hah!), he enjoys camping, skiing and reading.

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