Sunday, September 19, 2010

Wall of Absorbancy

There are things men are incapable of accomplishing.

I don't intend to get into a comparison of gender strengths, although my Lovely Wife and I both bring to our relationship certain characteristics that help each of us balance the other.

For instance, I am often laid back to the point of being catatonic, while she is sometimes hyped up like a poodle on crack. We've been together long enough that I have learned to be more responsive and she has learned to relax.

Another example is money management. Early in our relationship, my Lovely Wife assumed it should fall to the man of the house to pay the bills and manage the checkbook. I accepted the challenge, not wanting to dissapoint, but failed miserably. I learned two important lessons from that experience: (1) acknowledge your weaknesses and ask for help when you need it, and (2) the county water authority will happily cut you off on Friday afternoon, leaving you without functioning plumbing until Monday morning when their administrative offices reopen.

My Lovely Wife excels at managing money, so I leave the job to the professional. Now, ask her to decorate a cake or bake brownies and you might have something to worry about.

In all honesty, my favorite cake of all time was made by my Lovely Wife and children about five years ago to celebrate my return from a business trip. They used a mold of Mickey Mouse's face and tried valiantly to ice it according to the directions. Upon my return I was greeted with a handmade "welcome home" poster and a diseased-looking visage of a beloved Disney character. I affectionately refer to this cake as "Mickey Mumps."

One of the things that has generally fallen to me over the years, in part because I enjoy it and also because my Lovely Wife used to work on Saturdays, is the weekly grocery shopping. When the kids were little it was customary to see me heading through the aisles of the local Walmart pushing a double stroller with one hand and pulling a shopping cart with the other. In more recent years, shopping has become much simpler as I can escape on Saturday mornings without the kids in tow.

I try to group items on the shopping list based on where they are positioned in the store to avoid backtracking. I start with the non-food items and then work my way through the grocery aisles from back to front, ending with freezer items (so they don't melt in the cart while I'm shopping), produce (so I don't sprinkle grapes through the store like some healthy Hansel), and breads (so loaves don't get crushed into flatbreads by giant cans of pineapple juice).

On rare occasions, an item makes the list with which I might not be familiar. A few years ago, my Lovely Wife had scribbled the word "pads" on the list. Give me credit for being smart enough to understand what she meant.

I knew what she needed. Unfortunately I don't spend much time rifling through her section of the bathroom cabinetry trying to discern exactly what brand, size and style she prefers, so I asked for clarification. On the back of the list I copied down all the pertinent information and felt I had the knowledge necessary to make the correct purchase.

But when I got to the store, passed the pharmacy, turned right down the toothpaste aisle, and finally made it to the back wall where they hide the pads, I was greeted by a never-ending wall of absorbancy. Even though I knew the exact name, word for word, of the product I needed -- and even though I knew what color packaging to seek out -- I could not find it. I traveled up and down the aisle several times, examining packages, comparing the descriptive words to those scribbled on the back of my shopping list. I learned more in that one outing about feminine hygiene than I ever dreamt possible to know, all the while trying to guess which product would best serve if I couldn't spot the real thing.

Let's see...

Always Ultra Thin Wings Overnight Scented? Sounds like someone in China came up with that string of barely related descriptives.

Stayfree Overnight Maximum Protection? That could be a complimentary night's lodging in a locked-down prison.

Carefree Original Long Medium? Well, that doesn't even make any sense! Were they drunk when they came up with that one?!

By the time I realized I would not be going home with the correct item, I had unnerved at least a half-dozen women by loitering in their hygiene section and chuckling merrily to myself with every pack of pads I handled. I'm not particularly concerned, and I was not at all embarrassed about what I was shopping for, I'm just glad I picked something and moved along before security showed up.

© 2010 Mark Feggeler


  1. I always smile just a little when I see a man searching the feminine hygiene section, but I do believe that if I would have found you "chuckling merrily" while handling the pads, I would have, more than likely, maced you!

  2. i needed that laugh tonight Mark...thanks!