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Friday, June 12, 2009

Adventures in shopping

So Wednesday afternoon, I decided I needed a new shirt.

Because of a shared unhealthy obsession with media in all its forms, Greg and I have very little money left over at the end of each month to buy clothes. We buy books, games, Asian pears, iTunes videos, music from a Russian iTunes knockoff, etc. But clothes?

So. Wednesday afternoon. Greg was in the bedroom, at his computer, playing a game. And I was on the futon in the living room, reading. And in the bedroom and the living room, the sun slipped in thru window-blinds, fell to the floor, dimmed.

I decided to go shopping. It was as if my gay gene kicked in. I put down the book, visualized every piece of clothing I owned, then thought, shit, time to buy a new shirt.

When I told Greg that I wanted to go shopping, he grumbled. His computer screen flashed, and some weird midi sound exploded from his computer speakers. "I'm in the middle of a campaign, babe," he said. "I have to kill these bastards." His hands moved over his keyboard. More flash, more midi music. Then he paused the game and asked, "Now?"

"What are you playing?"

"I found a copy of Oregon Trail online."

"Can't it wait?" I said this while putting on pants.

"I'm gonna guess it has to."

"I'm tired of wearing the same shit over and over. We need new clothes."

"You mean you need new clothes."

"If I see this shirt one more time I'm gonna scream."

Greg pointed out the obvious: "I'm stoned."

"That'll make shopping bearable."

"No. I'm really stoned." He grinned at me, put his hands in his lap, tilted his head to the left. I just shoved my hands into my pockets and nodded. He sighed. "You really want to go out, don't you."

"I want new clothes."

Greg did this thing he always does, where he stretches out, but the stretch isn't about working muscles. When he stretches sometimes, it's a silent protest. It's a subtle acquiescence, this stretch. A polite surrender.

We took the train down to 66th Street. Seemed practical to me because it's only 20 mins by train and we could be back before Greg's buzz wore off.

--Oh, about the train ride: We got on at 207th St. A woman, not ugly, not obese but certainly full-figured and full-ponytailed, was sitting alone on a long line of seats. She was pink, and beside her was her pet chihuahua, enclosed in a plush blue bag. The dog's head stuck out of an arched hole in the bag as if waiting for the guillotine. The pink woman's thick ponytailed hair was full of frizz and split-ends. Her ponytail caught the fading sun's light, burned deep inside the bunched hair out to the split ends. Feathered fly-away fire.

And her chihuahua, head extending from the bag, drank from a plastic bowl set onto the neighboring seat. The pinkish woman with a burning ponytail held a bottle of mineral water in her right hand, and she used the mineral water to refresh the dog's water supply.

The train plunged underground.

Around 168th St, Greg leaned over to me and said, "I like dogs."


"But if I ever start carrying my dog around in a bag and..." He jabbed a finger in the direction of the pinkish woman and her chihuahua. "That."


"Shoot me. With a potato gun to the head."--

So we got off the train at 66th. Crawled the stairs, floated over the stairs, whatever. High and not high. We went to The Gap. And it was at The Gap that I realized Greg hated me in any colors other than earthtones.

I'd hold up a shirt I liked. Greg would grimace. "Too bright on you. Makes your cheeks look weird." I'd hold up a more subdued shirt, with cut-grass greens in it. "You look too pallid. Like Kinski."

"What about this?" I held up a mustard-yellow t-shirt.

Greg sighed. "No. Nice try, though."

He offered a shirt to me, but I didn't like the cut of the neck. He held up another shirt, but I didn't like 'THE GAP' written across the chest. We went back and forth, duelling shirts. He'd hold up a v-neck and I'd shudder. I'd hold up a canary shirt and he'd sigh.

I'd attempt to change the subject by pointing to a nice pair of pants, and he'd tap a rust-colored button-down.

For about twenty minutes, Greg and I were like Yoda and Dooku, shooting colors at each other, flipping off walls, flashing hangers like lightsabers, deflecting attacks, moving thru the tiny men's area of The Gap like weary, talented warriors.

"I look awful in everything," I said, surrendering, a cloud of defeated brightly-colored cloth around my legs.

"You don't look awful in everything. You just...." Greg did his stretchy thing. "You have a color scheme that works, and a color scheme that doesn't."

"This?" I pulled a peach-colored shirt from a rack and shoved it under my chin.

"What do you think of this?" Greg thrust a putty-colored shirt over the peach like Zorro going in for the... whatever Zorro goes in for when he thrusts. "Earth tones. Deal."



"No peach?"

"Makes you look like a Simpsons character."

Eventually, Greg and I gave up actual shopping at The Gap (but managed to spend 200 bucks anyway), and were too tired to go anywhere else. Left the store. Walked down a block to Barnes and Noble.

We wandered through the stacks of B&N for a while, each of us in our own sections (Greg: fantasy; me: fiction; both: guilty for being at B&N). I didn't find a Richard Yates book I wanted, Greg didn't find a book by Eddings he wanted, and we came together in the graphic novel section. We noticed there were books behind glass, which was odd for B&N. A chain bookstore was suddenly dealing in 'rare' books preserved behind locked glass doors. Both of us laughed, and pointed, and then realized we wanted to buy most of those glassed-in books. We spent a few minutes with our faces pressed against the glass doors, feeling like chihuahuas denied our mineral water.

Snapped out of it. Wondered again why there was... seriously... why the fuck does B&N have a rare-book bookcase?


We moved downstairs (escalator out, so we were forced to walk, step over step, like commoners) to the DVDs.

Greg and I spent about 20 mins debating various DVDs, various Blu-Rays. A middle-aged B&N employee, clearly convinced Greg and I were about to shoplift, approached us, asked if he could help out, then told us about a sale. "Everything down here is buy two, get one free." He said this as if he were splitting the atom.

"Everything?" I needed clarification.

"Yes. Oh yes." Greg and I were in the TV section, and had been for a while, laughing over "Quincy" and "Punky Brewster" boxed sets. "It's a great way to buy two seasons of something and get the third season for free. You like '24'?

I started to launch into my opinion of '24' but Greg, still stoned, was smart enough to intervene. "Let's get 'Seinfeld,'" he said, giving me a look. The elderly B&N guy nodded and moved on, eyeing my bag but assured that we were not lifting shop.

Buy two, get one free. Greg and I prowled through B&N's DVDs. We considered 'Upstairs, Downstairs,' because... I don't know why. I Netflix'd it years ago, and stoned Greg was now interested in watching it. He waved the entire $200 disc collection in my face, and as tempting as it was, I declined.

"I want to watch it," Greg said.

"It's expensive."

"We should save up for it. You're right."

"Why are you suddenly interested in it?" I asked this because I wanted to know the answer. I'd worked through the entire show years ago and didn't remember him paying attention.

"Because. I remember her ['her' is Rose, played by series creator Jean Marsh] standing in that empty house, after everything."

We considered the three feet of 'Doctor Who,' just above 'Upstairs, Downstairs.' Three feet of shelf space, and all of bad special effects and vaguely interesting sci-fi. "Why not?" I asked, waving a Doctor Who collection under Greg's nose. "Buy two, get one free. You can get a season of this--"

"I love you." Stoned Greg kissed me. He kissed me so hard I slammed the Doctor Who collection against the nearest shelf, and wondered if the elderly B&N employee would return to eye my bag.

Later, we moved back to American television.

"'Boston Legal,'" I suggested. Greg shrugged.

"'Kids in the Hall,'" Greg mentioned.

I kissed him, fondled the box set he was holding in his hand.

"'King of the Hill'?" Greg had just helped Stephen Root repair his Mac.

"We didn't see this. Might be good. 'Jerhico.'" I was going for repeat-viewing. After two views, maybe we'd both know why people liked a show with Skeet Ulrich.

We debated--serious debate!--over a collection of 'Black Adder,' 'The West Wing,' and 'Maude.' Two were too expensive, and one was too random. I'll let you work out which was which.

Here's what we ended up with: A few shirts from The Gap, varying in colors from brown to forest green; the last season of 'Seinfeld,' the third season of 'Ren and Stimpy,' and the Criterion edition of '8 1/2'; and a five block walk, because the 1 train, on a Wednesday afternoon, likes to skip stops.

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