I have written in an earlier post about seven rules of a happy married life. Here is rule number 8. This is important enough to merit a post of its own.
Rule Eight: About Joint Shopping Expeditions
Going on a joint shopping expedition to buy a dress for the wife is always a tricky affair. Stay out of it, if possible.
If you are into this by yourself, it is rather simple. You have a budget (Rs 500 or Rs 2500 or Rs 5000), you have the material in mind (cotton, silk, etc), you know the kind of design you want (Pochampalli, Banarasi, Chikan etc.) and you have a general idea of the colour (blue or pink). You reel out the specs to the counter guy (or a girl) and select from the bunch he or she offers. You choose one, ask for it to be packed, get your credit card swiped and off you go clutching the shopping bag. At peace with yourself. In a matter of fifteen minutes you are done.
Things are a bit different when you accompany the wife. You would go to a counter and ask for saris or dress materials to be shown. The sales person would pile-up his selection without even asking for the specifications. The wife would rifle through the bunch and ask for a broader choice. Bunch two is offered. As you are still trying to act as an interested participant in this activity by seriously going through the weaves and colours on offer, you find the wife speeding away to the adjoining counter in her quest for alternate choices. You stare at the piece you have selected, and you look hapless at the salesman who, more often than not, gives you a withering smile and then you make haste to join our wife. Who is busy evaluating a fresh set of choices. You barely catch up with her when she moves to yet another section. If you are aware enough, the choice of counters which seems random is actually in ascending order of the price of the goodies.
The wife makes a choice. Actually it is never one single choice. Always two or three. One in mauve, the other in lilac and the third in lavender. And now comes the dramatic moment. The sales person drapes each of the selection in turn on his body telling you what the pallu design is in contrast to the “main” design. This happens if you are buying a saree. If you are buying a dress, this display is done by the wife herself. As you are wondering which one to recommend, the wife chirps, “I like the lilac one. Mauve is pretty good too. Come to think of it, lavender is ok as well. What do you think?” Her eyes lock with yours as you are left groping for a choice.
This is the defining moment in the shopping expedition. Stay very calm, keep your wits with you. Make just the right remarks. Do not, for God’s sake, say that lilac and mauve look lousy on you, just take the lavender. Never! And for God’s sake again (and for your well-being too), never rush her. By saying that she needs to hurry up and that she can choose whichever colour she likes. Provided she decides quickly and that her choice is within a thousand rupees. Or even two thousand, depending on the level of generosity you feel at that point in time. Be calm, as I said, keep your wits with you. Here is how you should approach the situation.
You ask the salesperson or your wife- whosoever exhibiting the wares- to do the act all over again. You go back and then lean closer weighing the options available. And then you make that all important comment. You turn to your wife, lock your eyes firmly with hers and say,
“You know what, I am personally partial to lavender. Mauve is not bad at all. And actually, lilac goes so well on you. What do you think?” Put the ball firmly back in her court. Notice this deft reversal of colours compared with her sequence of choices.
The likely answer would be, “I wil go with your choice. You have a great taste in these matters.”
Do not succumb to this ploy. Just do not say that none of them suits her (and your pocket) or that just lavender is the option. Be totally diplomatic and say, “If I were you, I would take them all”.
She will hum and she will haw. And she will be thrilled to bits. That is precisely what she had in mind.
Let her take them all, maybe you should add one parrot-green thing on the side making it four. Quietly have your card swiped and walk out with the shopping bag (you should always carry the bag, come what may) looking like the happiest person on earth.
If you are not, at least the wife will be!