My wife's not that hard to shop for during the holidays.
While kicking around an angle for this post, I came across my 2007 gift-giving synopsis and realized my Christmas formula for Mrs. Bootleg has been the same for at least the last decade: gift cards to her favorite shops (Victoria's Secret, Ann Taylor Loft); a few things she specifically requests and a mix n' match of active wear (ladies sweats from the Nike store) and/or inactive wear (ladies sweats from Target).
I spent most of the month of December hubristically believing that I could knock out Mrs. Bootleg's Christmas list in a single session. Instead, the afternoons I'd earmarked for mall conquering turned into 700-word fast food mash notes.
On December 24, I was down to my last day. A few elements of the formula were easy to find. Mrs. Bootleg has recently taken over the top two dresser drawers for her spectacular collection of classy
With the gift equivalents of Glass Joe and Von Kaiser out of the way – and some assorted jewelry already in Mrs. Bootleg's stocking – it was time to auto-pilot the rest of the wife's gift list.
Then, a funny thing happened: I could NOT bring myself to half-ass it this year. Oh, my wallet was willing, but my conscience was not. I drove down to one of San Diego's higher-end malls and spent two hours talking myself in and out of buying the wife something at a place like The Coach Store. Mrs. Bootleg's got a few Coach bags already, so…what's one more?
I envisioned one of those little black purses that women use as a pretentious accessory to their little black evening dresses. "Little" + "black" = Mrs. Bootleg. What I naively failed to envision was (1) being completely ignored from the moment I walked through the doors of The Coach Store and (2) nary a price tag to be found on any of the items I was interested in. "If you have to ask…", as they say and I wasn't prepared to call their bluff with my credit card.
Less than five miles up the road is an All-American hood mall with shop names like "House of Flava", "Payless Shoes" and "Available to Lease". I'm not sure what I thought I was going to find here, but they didn't have it. I knew I could still pick up a few little things, but Mrs. Bootleg needed something that wasn't my usual paint-by-numbers approach. I tried another mall and that's when it hit me – Lucky Brand® Jeans.
And, for once I was grateful to be pounced on like prey when I entered the store. This was no time to be discreet:
"I'm looking for something for my wife, but I don't know her size. She's 4'8", about 105 lbs., short legs and a Black woman's butt."
As I'm sitting here at 10:35 PM typing this, those were my exact words. They seemed to momentarily stun the trust fund princess (this mall's near La Jolla, y'all) who was helping me. Fortunately, she gathered herself – but, not before becoming inexplicably defensive on my wife's behalf ("Hey, there's nothing wrong some butt!") as if I were insulting Mrs. Bootleg's backside. To her credit, the girl knew her jeans. I was out the door with a pair in less than 10 minutes.
I wanted one more relatively "nice" gift. I walked over to Crate & Barrel, but even though Mrs. Bootleg and I have talked about buying a new coffee pot, I couldn't bring myself to buy the "appliance as a gift". I headed home, but missed the freeway on-ramp, so I cut across town on surface streets until I hit the next freeway. At a red light, that's when it hit me (again) – The Ugg Boots Superstore.
Mrs. Boot(!)leg had mentioned Uggs off and on for years. I had no earthly idea if anyone still wears 'em, but by now it was almost 2:00 PM on Christmas Eve. She's getting Uggs.
The "superstore" was – ironically AND coincidentally – the size of a shoebox. For whatever reason, every one of its employees was ancient enough to have served as Old Hoss Radbourn's personal cobbler and cordwainer. But, with those centuries of life came an insight I could never quantify:
Me: "Do you have this in a 6 ½?"
Saleswoman: "I'm sorry, we don't carry half sizes."
Me: "Oh. Well, how 'bout in a 7?"
Saleswoman: "Young man, you NEVER go a half-size higher. Always go one half-size lower."
Anyways, Christmas Day came and Mrs. Bootleg seemed blown away by my break from the norm. Still, she's even better than me at faking appreciation for an especially crappy gift, so I made sure to arm her with the applicable gift receipts. All I really wanted was for the jeans and boots to fit and on that it was mission accomplished.
OK, OK…it would be cool if she kept them.