THE MINUTE YOU saw him, you knew the guy was in for one of the worst hours of his life.
He, of course, had not a clue. He, of course, thought he was on a simple shopping errand. But when you saw the poor dear
screech into the shoe store, suit still rumpled from his day, glasses still wet from the rain and voice still optimistic, oh honey, you knew for sure that this guy was in for a real bad 60 minutes.
Because you heard what his voice said. It said to the saleswoman, "Hi. My wife and I are in from out of town. And we're going to this wedding tomorrow. And the thing is, she forgot her dyed-to-match gray shoes. So I need a pair of size 7 gray shoes, OK? Here, here's the purse that's dyed to match too, so now we can match everything up."
And the saleswoman looked at him like maybe he'd asked her if they had something, in, oh say, a nice Holy Grail. Because there are a million grays, and they are always all wrong. But this guy didn't get it. Because this was one of those dear, sweet, lovable, regulation guys who figured, "Hey, shoes/shmoos, gray/shmay -- what's so difficult about getting the little woman a pair of gray shoes?" I mean, you looked at this guy standing there in the shoe store, and you just knew precisely what had transpired in the last half hour of his life. Precisely.
What had transpired was this. He and the wife are in the process of unpacking when all of a sudden a screech, I mean blood-curdling screech, escapes from his beloved. "Honey," he asks, "what's wrong?"
"Oh. My. God. I cannot believe this. I forgot my shoes!"
He, of course, says, "What shoes?"
She turns on him instantly, because she can already tell he is impervious to the disastrousness of this event, and yowls, "The shoes for my dress -- MY DYED-TO-MATCH GRAY ONES!" She then proceeds to go what is scientifically referred to as ballistic.
The guy cannot believe it. Cannot believe how a simple thing like one pair of $39.99 shoes can alter a person's entire behavioral equilibrium. I mean, he has shoes. He has brown shoes. And black shoes. And brown shoes. And black shoes. And while he doesn't have gray shoes, he has gray socks, so how hard can this be? My God, he says, watching the woman crumple in utter outfit-hysterics, my little honey is definitely overreacting. And so he says to her in what he assumes will be a calming fashion, "Look, hon, there's a shopping mall down the street. There must be six shoe stores in there. We'll get you a pair of gray shoes."
And she looks at him as if he was without question The Jerk of the Century, and she hisses, "You'll never find a pair of gray silk shoes there. NEVER."
And Mr. Regular Guy hears that and feels the gauntlet has been laid down. "Watch me," he says, as he heads for the mall. "Just watch me."
Which is what you are doing right there in the shoe store. You are watching a man who is about to learn the ugly lesson of ACCESSORY HELL. The lesson that every woman who has struggled to put together a look must face with each new outfit. Men think that earrings and belts and shoes simply materialize. They have no inkling of the painstakingly extensive search and recover mission each ensemble requires. But now this guy will. After being laughed out of six shoe stores, you can bet this guy will have definitely grasped the concept.
Then there's only one other concept for him to grasp. And his wife will lay that on him the minute he returns. It's the one where she may have forgotten the shoes, but by the time he returns empty-handed, believe me, the entire thing will have become -- without question -- ALL HIS FAULT.