-Fred Stock

            One of the main differences between most men and most women is the love and seeming voracious appetite for things made of cloth. A bachelor goes to the store to buy sheets for his apartment. He takes a mattress measurement and says to the lady, “I need a pair of sheets to fit this size bed.” She hands him one off the shelf, he hands her his debit card, and leaves. End of trip. A woman on the other hand, will plan to spend at least an hour or more looking at every sheet, towel, pillow sack, color coordinated set and accessory piece in captivity. She will note the twill and the thread count, whatever the heck those are, and the brand name and country of origin. She will probably bring another woman who will serve as the expert, and perhaps a third lady to be the moderator. If Mom or Grand-daughter is available, they’ll come too! Can’t ever hurt to have an extra opinion or three!

              Now, as a husband, you have a quandary. You love your wife and want her to be happy. You want her to have what she likes and to have a good experience in her acquisition of that. But you have as much interest in the cloth stores as you have in learning a new stitch for underwear decoration. Not quite the super bowl is it?! So being an adoring mate – the wife calls that an obedient “English type” husband – yes dear, immediately dear. – you take her to the row of over one hundred stores at the factory outlets complex. There she will discover two things that completely distract her, to the eternal detriment of the fans of the major league baseball schedule which is unfolding with Saturday day games as we shop. Anyway, she has discovered at least thirty shoe and handbag stores, and perhaps that many cloth stores. Now cloth shops have a variety of things. That includes bed spreads, pillows and pillow sheets, wash cloths, wash cloths with matching towels, wash cloths and towels with matching rugs and carpets for the bath room, shirts, blouses, trousers, shorts in at least thirty-five styles and three dozen colors, throw rugs with descriptions on the signs in English, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese, carpet runners, throw rugs, area rugs, comforters, blankets, shades and window treatments, drapes, cotton stockings and socks, unlimited sweaters, tops and couch fabrics and seat covers, bathing suits, jackets and snuggies, cloth bags and totes, luggage and fabric sold by the yard… to name just a few. Yiiieeee!

             A woman will walk in and find the exact piece she was describing as she drove to the store, then look at each and every possible variety of that item, pick it up and put it back at least seven times, them put it down and walk away, saying, “I want to think about it.” Then she’ll look at the same item in five or six more cloth stores, look at each variety, put it down and walk out without it. Then eventually, she’ll say, “I’m tired, let’s go home.” Then on the way home, she will say, “I wish I had bought that first one I saw in that cute little shop.” Even if she actually bought the one she wanted at the first cloth store, she would continue to shop for it at all the other cloth stores as if she had not! Don ’t ask why. It will make her angry. As we walked this day toward the biggest cloth store in the mall, my spouse turned to me and noted, “This is a cloth store. You might not want to go in with me.” Of course, it’s mid-July and the temperature outside is 117 Fahrenheit, so I guess I’ll go in instead of waiting outside. I find a “husbands” chair just inside the door, or a shelf or a packing carton somewhere to sit on and stare blankly into my wrist watch or cell phone killing time! Meanwhile she launches into the girl sport.

              One poor husband was sitting dejectedly in another small chair right by the main entrance of the cloth store. He looked as frustrated as I felt. I said to him, “Ain’t cloth stores fun?” He smiled, You, too?” “Oh, yah,” I said, ”she’s slowly walking up and down each and every isle touching every item as if she had never visited this planet before.” He smiled, knowingly. Just then, his wife showed up with a basket full of cloth things. She said, “I have to leave this here with you so I can walk down to the plaza office and buy a coupon book so we can get a discount on this stuff.” He looked at the three quarters full basket and said to her, “How much is this going to cost me?” “A lot!” she replied, walking out with another lady to buy a coupon. A whole basket! Insult to injury! I know I need cloth in my life. I know she is the expert at buying it. I know all that, but let me say, when the Cardinals or Dodgers are on the television set back home, a pox on cloth!   -fhs