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Wed 22nd Dec : The Man Who Gets It

So there I was. I got some time off from my company - well an extended lunch break - and popped round the stores. You'd think that working on the edge of SoHo you'd be in a good position but there's so much choice there's little impetus to make a rash decision.

Also - I had a list from the Lady and I thought I could bang out a couple in Bloomingdale's. This was going to be simple. This year there would be no acute disappointment. Last year it took the Lady three months to start using the wallet I bought her and about three weeks ago, she announced what a great gift that book on interior design was.

No slow burn Santa this year - perfume and a toiletries bag from Bloomingdale's. First stop, perfume. Can't go wrong. Duck through the doors off Broadway, avoid go downstairs to the men's department and push on forward through the back lit kiosks manned by two dozen women armed with sprays and make up samples.

Head down, I got thirty yards into the store without a puff of scent landing on me by the time I met the well tanned Southern blonde behind the Jo Malone stand. I looked at the wall behind her filled with neat rows of bottles and said, "Tell me there's only one Jo Malone perfume."

She grinned and her hand swished away towards the square bottles on a small table.  "And do you want scent or parfum?"

I'd find out which was more expensive later, I thought.

"So these ten bottles are different scents?" I asked. She nodded with sympathy and then recognized my accent. She pointed out which was the most popular in the US and which was the most popular in the UK.

"This is Ms. Malone's signature scent," she said as I tried to duck the cloud of droplets.  We chit chatted. I chose the British choice - she could bring it back if she wasn't too happy with it. Unlike her boyfriend.

I thought about the toiletries bag I had to buy upstairs as my sales person wrapped my gift and exchanged small talk with another blonde. She stopped. There was a small conference. Wrong choice maybe? Had the Lady phoned in to warn them?

No. They were asking if I'd like 15% off that day if I signed up for their credit card today. I looked around - the Lady wasn't there to stop me applying for debt, and hell, one needs to build up one's credit rating in the US. Everyone knows that. "And I can spend the 15% up in the bag department?" I asked.

"Sure," the blode said. Bonus.Then her eyes lit up. "Oh we have a great selection of bags," she said in what I think was near-honesty. "Do me a favor will you?" she asked.

"Of course," I said trying to soften the blow if I was going to get rejected by the computer as she tapped in my details.

Then she called over her friends. Suddenly I was surrounded by some well made up, perma-tanned 35-45 year olds, many blonde. My blonde's hand swished my way and announced to her colleagues, "Here girls, is a real man. He knows what a woman wants." The other blondes were checking me out like a piece of forbidden spicy chicken sat in a barbecue bowl. "He just bought this perfume and now he's going to go up and buy his Lady a bag!"

The crowd looked on and cooed at the thought of me buying some glamorous hand bag for my girlfriend. For a moment, I felt the pressure and thought about upgrading my gift choice. Ands then I retracted that thought: I'd only choose the wrong one, spend too much money.

I'll just not tell these ladies the truth. I'll never see them after I get away from this desk anyway.

"Do us all a favor," my blonde asked me. "You're a man who gets it." The group of women nod and mutter in agreement. They may have taken a small step forward too - I don't know for sure - my vision was becoming blinkered. Red exit signs - where are they. "We want to know what a real man buys her girlfriend," she went on. "Do us all a favor and show us what you bought when you come back down."

Huh? (a) I wasn't planning going to be buying anything more than an overpriced toiletries bag on the next floor and (b) I now had the majority of sales staff on the ground floor awaiting for my purchase of some wonderful hand bag.

Oh my gawd.

They waved me off and as I arose on the escalator I looked around to see the blondes move around the cosmetics floor as if they were robotic sentries choreographed to intercept any fleeing fella.

Upstairs I dived for the first bag that looked like the right size, shape. I fumbled with it and fled towards the cashier desk. As I got there I looked at a little aisle at some plastic 'little brown bags' - they were cute for an out of towner, maybe something nice for my mum. I took them both. I hoped the girl would wrap them but she plonked them into my larger brown bag and waved me off.

I looked into the bag. A Kate Spade toiletries bag - expensive for what it was, but not a hand bag; and a tourist-trap brown paper bag that was plastic - I gulped. As I descended to the ground floor, I realised that I was going to let down a lot of sales staff: but then the great escape! There was a back escalator down to the basement/Men's department.

I had to sneak through the department, up the stairs at the front and rushed so quickly out of the front door, the security checked me out. Outside I panted and hurried along, unable to check if I had been seen. I just kept walking - I wouldn't have to see the southern blonde ever again, nor her horde of friends - but then it hit me....

What happens if I've got the wrong bag? I'd have to sneak back in! What happens if I got the wrong perfume?

Oh my gawd!

December 22, 2004 in Diary, The Lady | Permalink

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