Monday, December 16, 2002

Christmas shopping

“We haven’t done that section over there” said the woman waving her podgy finger across 200 square metres of prime Aylesbury retail. On Saturday we went into town in an attempt to spend half the GDP of Botswana on presents nobody wants for people who we don’t want to buy for. I’m generally avoiding the shops again this year by peddling the same ‘social experiment’ card I’ve used for the last three. There’s not much mileage left in the ‘I’m seeing if I can do all my Christmas shopping on the internet” but I’m giving it one last airing. Even I know internet shopping isn’t reliable enough to specify which Christmas day the presents are guaranteed to arrive by.

“Ooh look” said the over excited woman pointing at a plastic bowl divided into sections with a small portion of peanuts, Bombay mix, crisps, and Cheerio’s. The bowl was tastefully rapped in plastic and tied up with gold ribbon to make a delightful Christmas snack.

There’s a loud sigh as I drift upstairs to check out presents for Sophie. There’s a man with a shaven head and a gait like a bear sweating as he walks away from the cash desk holding a pack of ladies briefs, beyond him are hordes of men with haunted looks on their faces. The lingerie section is nearby.

They’ve lusted over the belle du jours; Melinda Messenger and Cat Deeley, they’ve seen the advert where Hermione Grainger flashes her knickers and resolved to furnish their beloved with the foxy blue lacy number she’s wearing to flick the switch of passion that hasn’t been fingered in an age. Then, in the shop, everything changes and the confidence just drains away.

“Right, this is it, the basque, g-string, and suspenders, no backing out now … or the bra and knickers… or the camisole… or that three pack of pants, or the silky nightdress, or that towling robe…. mind you that jumper looks alright.”

And bollocks, another Christmas with the wife dressed in brown underwear and a scowl.

Underwear isn’t made for men to buy. The labels are so small you can’t just grab and go, instead you have to finger you’re way through a rack of highly engineered balcony bras. One slip and you’re wearing it. It’s a living nightmare.

I’m finding out what it means to be thirty. It’s not a bad age, but you do have to accept that you’re more likely to see people you know from school in Early Learning Centre than in the pub.


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