Monday, August 06, 2007

COLUMN: Accessories

I never thought I'd reach a point in my life where I would rather deal with machines instead of people.

I've realized lately, though, that my current preferred mode of shopping is in front of a computer with credit card in hand. No people, no muss, no fuss. There was a time when this was a decidedly anti-Shane way of thinking. Once upon a teenage, I LOVED going to the mall. Walking through those mighty doors with an allowance burning a hole in my pocket was a feeling of genuine empowerment. The world -- or at least the mall -- was my oyster.

But the oyster's gone bad. Nowadays, it's a triumph if I make it out of the mall with my sanity intact. Last week, I wrote about an excursion in search of some replacement undergarments of the hole-free variety. This was a trip born of necessity, as are most of my shopping trips these days. Ergo, to make my future retail nightmares as minimal as possible, I spelunked around the mall that day wondering if I could kill any more birds with this shopping stone.

That's when I remembered: I could stand a new watch and a new wallet. I gulped and headed for one of my least favorite parts of the mall department stores.

You know what I'm talking about -- those glass counters of doom. You female types probably think nothing of it, but for those of us estrogenally-challenged, glass counters are unnatural places. Usually the only items guys buy out of a glass case are either (a) weapons, or (b) valuable and important baseball cards. In a department store, I don't even know what the glass-case-area is actually called -- Accessories? Jewelry? The Wayward Home for Over-Achieving Aggressive Salespeople? All I know is that I've now got a few NEW names for the department, but this being a family newspaper, I'll spare those suggestions.
Just walking up to those counters is intimidating enough. First off, from a distance, you have to use your sixth sense to figure out which counter has manly guy stuff and which one has foofy girlie junk. I approached with trepidation and sighed with relief when I spotted guy-sized watches at the far counter. I trotted that-a-way, but I didn't make it that far.

"CANIHELPYOUFINDAFRAGRANCE?" blurted a voice that very well could have been from Mars.

"Eh?" I muttered, desperately attempting to hit the space bar in my brain and turn the babble into words.

It turns out that I had ventured too close to the cologne counter, and I had fallen prey to the tractor beam of the World's Most Overly-Enthusiastic Sales Guy, who now stood alarmingly close, beaming at me with his phony, tooth-filled smile.

"Errr," I barely got out when he cut me off with what would turn out to be the second most ridiculous question I would hear that day:

"Sir, what would you say is your defining scent?"

I couldn't help but laugh out loud. Truth be told, my "defining scent" is probably a mixture of stale air, Tide with Bleach Alternative, Doritos, and -- depending on the state of the litterbox -- perhaps a subtle hint of cat pee. Please, humanity, never define me by a scent. I shrugged and laughed at the inanity of it all. That's when I got to hear the winning most ridiculous question of the day:

"Do you consider yourself a... musky man?"

I started laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. In all of the soul-searching I could possibly do in my entire life, of every moment of personal enlightenment that I could possibly hope to attain, I had better not come to a universal truth that I am a musky man.

"Dude," I attempted to reply between chortles, "I barely consider myself a MAN, let alone a musky one."

I mean, come on, is there ANY word out there grosser than MUSK? Mirriam-Webster tells me that the word musk is derived from the Sanskrit "muska," which, of course, is Sanskrit for TESTICLE. And the definition? "A substance with a penetrating persistent odor obtained from a sac beneath the abdominal skin of the male musk deer."

Sexy, eh? To me, the word musk should only be used by guys who come in their front door every night saying, "Wife, I have returned home with dinner which I have shot and skinned for us all. Now I must go clean the blood from my all-terrain vehicle... but first, come, woman, and smell of my musk!"

Musk is for manly men -- NOT chubby, nerdy, man-boys such as myself. You people can have all the deer sac juice you want. I, meanwhile, have only found 3 colognes in my life that I deem worth wearing. Drakkar, which reminds me of teen dance clubs and bad 80's music; some Estee Lauder stuff called JHL that I only wore at the insistence of my college girlfriend (she found it sexy while I found it not unlike dish soap); and a cologne called BLV For Men that I can usually only find in Chicago.

I made the mistake of asking the guy if they stocked BLV. "It's a blue bottle," I attempted to elaborate. He didn't have BLV, but quickly started pulling out every blue-bottled cologne he had, as though I shopped for scents on the basis of color coordination. Eventually I escaped, but not before I had a pocket full of little cards, each having been spritzed with a different blue-bottled aroma. I swear my pants are still infused with notes of sandalwood and jasmine to this day.

In the meantime, I need to go. I've got to go shopping for a new wallet. On


Emilene said...

Chanel #5 is made from an oil "harvested" from an Asian wild cat's anal sacs. It really hasn't smelled the same to me since I learned that.

Socialist Christian Hippie said...

The mall has been pointless since they pulled most of the video games and started charging .50 and up for those they have left. Of course, things started getting bad when they pulled the fountains.

Now that everything fun is gone...why go?