It's that time of year again: the time where we all must wade through seas of disgruntled persons in stores where we otherwise would never shop in the hopes of finding that perfect gift for our family, friends and loved ones.
The best way to shop is with another person, preferably someone you like and who likes you as well so that, once the long lines of half-crazed people start to get to you, you have someone to commiserate with and someone whom you will not be tempted to strangle at the end of the day.
A shopping companion also helps you when you have to go into a store where you don't belong. Like Bath and Body Works. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a Bath and Body Works kind of guy. In fact, I was blissfully unaware that places like Bath and Body Works existed until about a year ago. But when I go in to the Bath and Body Works with my girlfriend, there is an unspoken understanding between me and the sales staff.
"Yes, I know I don't belong. Yes, the smell in here makes me irrationally angry and prone to inappropriate outbursts. But I'm here with this person who does belong here, and she needs something, so we're stuck with each other for the next five to ten minutes. I'm going to go squeeze the loofahs now. Please do not call security."
However, I almost always end up having to do part of my shopping alone and, inevitable, I wade into at least one store where I clearly do not belong. This happens to me occasionally throughout the year.
Once, I went to a BCBG (some clothing store Katie likes) to get her a birthday gift and was greeted by stares and strange leers by the abnormally thin, black-clad shop girls behind the counter. I left feeling out of place and somewhat dirty. I think maybe they just weren't used to bearded men showing up by themselves in their white t-shirts, black hoodies and Detroit baseball caps. I don't know. I'm just saying, it was weird.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised. The same thing happens every time I periodically go shopping for ladies undergarments.
I had the same experience yesterday while rounding out my Christmas shopping. I won't say what store or what I purchased because it could potentially compromise the gift exchange on Christmas day. Heaven forbid. I'll just say that I was at a relatively hip store buying an item that was clearly not hip. As I was leaving, the employed hipster guarding the exit (presumably to ensure that I wasn't walking out with anything too hip for me) took one look at my item and managed to put together a "wow, that's... uh... kickass."
A slightly younger me might have explained "It's not for me. It's a gift. I'm still hip. Honest, mister hipster." A disgruntled and stressed me might have said something like, "Kiss my ass, punk. It's lame little gifts like these that keep you from spending all day at your parents' house."
But yesterday, he got a relatively subdued me; a me that has accepted the fact that Christmas shopping sucks no matter what you do. So I just smiled and thanked him for his attempt at a compliment, resisted the urge to compliment him on his jet-black mohawk and his skull-covered hoodie, gathered my bag and left.