The couple and their two adorable young children rolled past me through the Target aisles saying the most hilarious things to each other along the way. I kept my ears wide open and wasn't disappointed by the steady stream of fun. The husband was astonished by how expensive men's underwear was. The wife was weighing the pros and cons of preshrunk cotton. The babbling children let loose a marvelous torrent of comments about pretty much everything. (Is it still eavesdropping if the subjects of interest are in a public place making no attempts to conceal?)
We crossed paths in the shoe section and again in the toys and then for one final adventure at the ladies' dressing rooms. I was no longer at a safe snickering distance as I sat waiting for my oldest daughter to try on clothes. Instead, I had a front row ticket to a scene I shall not soon forget.
I arrived at the dressing rooms first and was seated on one of the round orange stools at the entrance. I was waiting... waiting for my daughter to try on her clothes and model them for me. The entertaining couple arrived shortly after and the young wife marched forward with an armful of clothes and through the door directly in front of me. A couple minutes later, she emerged, dressed in a long grey maxi skirt. I couldn't help but notice. She was about 3 feet away from me and I found myself the monkey in the middle between the spouses. She looked over my head at him and said loudly:
"Wow. This skirt makes my thighs look MASSIVE! Don't you think so, Honey?"
Now, this may simply be my personality but in that situation, the inclination to stare straight at her thighs and postulate a verbal response was strong in me. She did ask a question after all. But I immediately looked away in order to protect all of us. It was an almost impossible feat since she was directly in front of me so I craned my neck beyond reasonable function to look down the hall, hoping desperately that my daughter would appear. I could not hold my awkward pose of feigned obliviousness much longer. Then she spoke again...
"I mean... don't you think that this just really makes my thighs look TOTALLY FAT?"
I looked. I could hardly help it. I took just a little peek while I rested my neck. And then quickly returned to my daughter-searching, wishing heartily that the woman would release me from my strange dressing room prison. I couldn't keep the ridiculous neck turn going any longer and swung myself completely around on the chair. I was no longer looking at the woman, but alas, there stood her tortured man directly in my line of vision.
I knew that skirt was not particularly flattering. She knew it. He knew it. Yes, it did accentuate her fullness of leg. Yes, it did make them look rather larger than they had previously looked in her shopping attire of basic blue jeans. And this man... this poor man... what could he possibly say? I held my breath and waited. I could see no escape for him. He would either have to flat out lie or... or... I simply couldn't think what he might say. And then he said it...
And that was all. I don't know what it meant. I don't think anyone knew what it meant. Regardless, it was genius and it saved his neck. She threw up her hands in exasperation and said...
"I don't even know WHY I asked you. Men know nothing about fashion."
She turned on her heel and headed back into the dressing room. I could not look at her husband. No, I could not. No good would have come of it at all. But I did hear him release the lungful of air that he had been holding ever since he last spoke, and I made haste to get my child and scram.
I learned some big lessons in those two minutes outside the dressing room and I'm sharing just because I think you ought to know:
1) Husbands have a tough job.
2) Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious has a modern day counterpart (although rather dumbed down) and all men would do well to learn it. And finally...
3) If the husband says Mmmmrrrr... don't buy the skirt.