Monday, August 18, 2008
They say the way to a man's heart is via his stomach.
With a woman, the route is more circuitous.
It seems to start at the feet.
For a generation of men more than familiar with the Sex And The City girls and their never-ending lust for the latest Manolo Blahniks, Jimmy Choos, or whatever, this shouldn't be a great surprise. It wasn't to me.
What was surprising, was the effect the right gift can have not only on the recipient, but a multitude of other women too.
The scene was the Div household last Thursday. K was trying on outfits
for a Christening we were to attend on Sunday.
I pride myself on being a good shopping companion. Tactful but honest.
If I don't like something she tries on, I'm not shy about offering an opinion, though always in a constructive manner.
This doesn't always go down well in the heat of the moment, but she knows it means if I say I love an outfit, I really do love it.
With the birth being only six weeks previous, I knew this was a particularly sensitive time for offering opinions.
Outfit one was fine, but not brilliant.
Outfit two was great, except for the shoes. They were just a bit too clumsy for the outfit.
'I think you could do better', I told her.
'Well, I've been looking for weeks. You try finding a pair of blue shoes to match this skirt!', she responded just a little tetchily.
I said nothing, and retired to the computer room. That sounded like a fun challenge...
Step 1 - ASOS. I remember the early dot-com days when this was just another niche start-up that seemed doomed to crash and burn. Now they seem to rule the UK market for (fairly) affordable style. Plus I knew K had bought stuff there before so it was a safe bet.
Alas, they had what appeared to be the perfect shoes, but it was too late for delivery before Sunday.
Step 2 - I checked the website of the designer. Kurt Geiger. Same story here.
Step 3 - Last throw of the dice. Find a local stockist. At which point lady luck smiled on me. There was a Kurt Geiger outlet in one of the out-of-town complexes around fifteen minutes drive from work.
Step 4 - I zoomed over on Friday afternoon.
As an unaccompanied guy, walking into a trendy ladies shoe store alone, and seeking out a particular pair, must rank alongside job interviews, or meeting the parents of a new girlfriend, for pounding heart and clammy palms.
The store was quiet. The solitary sales assistant was young, blonde, and gorgeous.
I loitered while she dealt with a middle-aged couple who obviously weren't going to buy anything. Spotting my target I casually lifted them and did my best to appraise them in a manner devoid of fetishistic overtones.
The other couple left empty handed. The assistant politely enquired if I needed help? I did.
She checked with the store room. They had them in K's size. I bought them.
Gorgeous blonde girl seemed relieved I hadn't asked for them in an eleven.
As she wrapped, her curiosity got the better of her, and she gently quizzed me on the purchase. I explained the story. She looked at me like I'd suddenly transformed into a Thelma and Louise era Brad Pitt-alike.
I left the shop with a smile on my face, and a buzz of satisfaction at mission accomplished.
On my return, a few workmates wondered where I'd been. Flush with success, I explained.
The guys were agog, the few girls in the department impressed. Even more so when they saw the shoes. This felt pretty good!
I sprung the surprise on K once both kids were asleep. She was so amazed I thought she might cry. By now I was feeling positively heroic.
She told her pals, lots of them. The acclaim was universal. Her sister loved them.
By now I was starting to understand how rock stars feel. The smallest action sufficient to have women adoring you from afar, no matter how irrational it may be.
I do seem to have made a couple of enemies. Partners who reckon I've set the bar too high.
Do I care? No! She loved them, and I got to feel like a rock star for just a little while.
A small price to pay for these beauties!