No-nonsense man goes stalking stockings

March 20, 1997|By Kevin Cowherd

LET ME BEGIN by saying that a man can be secure in his sexuality, he can be a fully evolved New Millennium guy striving for enlightenment vis-a-vis his relationships with women, and still have a problem with buying stockings for his wife.

This is something I discovered the other day at 7 a.m. when my wife, dressing for work, let out a scream that suggested she'd just come upon an intruder with a chain saw.

"I don't have any stockings!," she said. "You have to go buy me stockings!"

"Gee, I don't know," I said.

"You have to!" she said. "I can't be late!"

"Look, I don't even know what kind of stock -- "

"No Nonsense, Size B, off-white," she said, pushing me out the door.

Well. I don't know if you've ever tried buying stockings at 7 in the morning, but you're pretty much limited to supermarkets and convenience stores.

And with the way they rob you at these convenience stores, the clerk behind the counter might as well be wearing a ski mask and waving a gun.

So I ended up at Safeway, utterly clueless as to where to find stockings.

There was no listing for stockings on the store directory. And the only employee I could see was an older guy with tattoos on both forearms who was stocking shelves.

He looked like the kind of guy who might have served in the Korean War.

It seems to me you don't want to be asking a guy who served in Korea where the stockings are.

Guys who served in Korea, they don't care where the stockings are.

If their wives ever ask them to go get stockings at 7 in the morning, they just roll over in bed and say: "Look, I spent 10 months freezing my butt off at Inchon and the Yalu River. So I'm not about to get out from under these warm covers to buy stockings."

Plus, a guy who served in Korea is liable to get on the intercom and announce: "Sissy Boy here wants to know where the pantyhose are."

On the other hand, I was in a big-time hurry at this point, with my wife about to be fired and all.

So finally I just said to hell with it and walked up to the guy and blurted out: "I'm, uh, looking for the stockings."

He didn't answer right away, so I felt compelled to add: "Not for me, you understand, heh, heh. They're, um, for my wife."

"Next aisle over, in the Hosiery section," he said.

Well. To be honest, I never even knew there was a Hosiery section.

To me, it was like hearing a Safeway employee say: "You know, we have a section where we sell Egyptian artifacts..."

Anyway, I found the Hosiery section, and then it came down to finding the right stockings.

It turns out you can get them in all sorts of colors (white, off-white, tan, black) and sizes (A, B, Queen). And you can get them for different, um, purposes (if that's the word) such as Control Top, Sheer Toe and so on.

It's really very interesting. Not that I had time to browse -- my wife was about to be unemployed and I was staring at a second job in a fish cannery.

Anyway, I finally found the right stockings and took them to the checkout counter.

There were three of us in line. There was a woman with Tropicana orange juice and sourdough bread. There was a guy with four packs of Marlboro Lights.

And there I was with my stockings.

If you're a guy, the key to standing in a checkout line with stockings is this: You have to project the fact that the stockings aren't for you.

It's like a guy who's been asked by his wife to hold her pocketbook.

The guy will never hold it up by the handles or the straps, which would connote familiarity with the bag. Instead, he'll grab it somewhere in the middle and hold it at arm's length, like it's medical waste or something.

Which is sort of what I was trying to do with the stockings, holding them the way you'd hold a football.

The good thing is that at 7: 15 in the morning, people in a checkout line aren't too chatty. So no one said anything about the stockings.

The guy with the smokes gave me a look, but then I said: "Hey, how 'bout the Orioles bullpen?" and he seemed to relax.

The cashier didn't say anything at first, although after she rang up the stockings she said: "You ask me, Safeway's own is just as good as No Nonsense."

"I wouldn't know," I said. I said it loud, too, since the Korean War vet had suddenly materialized next to the other register.

I'm sorry, but you can't compare pantyhose brands in front of a Korean War vet.

It's just not right.

Pub Date: 3/20/97

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