Monday, November 20, 2006


Fact 1: I am surrounded by girls.

Fact 2: They are a nightmare.

Fact 3: I had to take two of them shopping yesterday.

Let me tell you about it:

I have two daughters aged ten and twelve. The parents among you have probably heard enough already, you know the gist of what's coming. Those of you who are parents of girls know what it's like. We love 'em to bits but it's a hellish existence for a Father. Even more so when their Mother is mad. My house is bulging at the seams with female hormones, they lurk in every room and every cupboard and jump out at me when I least expect it.

Thank God I have a drum room and some bathrooms where refuge and sanctuary can be sought in times of need. Even they are not as safe as they used to be. I can be happily grooving away to the latest song from Lily Allen one second only to find my headphones snapped off my head and myself caught in the latest argument about some girl related stuff the next.

Therefore, when I was dispatched to Kingston yesterday with the two daughters and instructions to buy each of them a pair of boots and a pair of trainers for one, it was with trepidation, apprehension and a feeling of doom for my wallet. I listened very, very carefully and concentrated hard on the wife's sergeant majorly instructions:

" (or was it brown?).....blah, blah.....buckles....."

Off we went, with a trumpety trump. Trump trump trump.

If you know Kingston you'll know that it's rather full of shops. In late November, on a Sunday, it's also full of people and not easy to stroll around with two kids while browsing for things like boots. Particularly when, between the three of you, no one has the slightest idea what they are looking for. Kingston has about ten thousand shoe shops and we went into each of them. In my experience women possess a strange and fuzzy kind of logic and it's not often used, but ten years old ones possess it in abundance.

I am a rare type of man. I like shopping. Yet I still shop in the man's way. You know how it works for us men; see it, maybe try it on, then decide within 2 seconds whether or not to buy it.

As simple as that. No looking at the price, no "will it match that shirt I wore last Saturday?", no "shall I buy that other one I tried on instead?" (we just buy both) and definitely no "What do you think dear?"

A few months ago I was standing in the checkout at M+ S, in the food section. I had some chicken and various stuff in my basket and the woman in front of me in the queue turned to me, pointing at my basket and said:

"Excuse me, do you know how much that chicken costs?"

I looked startled and blank and gave her the only correct reply:

"I'm sorry I haven't got a clue. I'm a man. We don't look at prices."

She nodded knowingly and apologised. Clearly, in a momentary lapse of concentration, she had forgotten the basics. Or she was chatting me up, but that is very unlikely.

We continued our browsing. Some pairs of boots were tried on, most were rejected at first sight for strange and illogical reasons. For the ten year old the most important thing was that the boots had buckles and any without such metallic adornments weren't even considered. I didn't understand why but I went along with it, remembering that the wife had said something about buckles too.

Finally we found a pair. It was in a shop staffed by halfwit students. The type who are more interested in chatting to each other about what they did last night than anything else. I felt rude and guilty but I managed to interrupt one such conversation to get served. After some trying on, some walking up and down the shop and some discussion with the 12 year old sister, the boots were finally approved. Phew. One down and two to go I thought.

The older sister then announced that she liked the boots in the very first shop we had gone into. So we traipsed back there, tried on boots, had the usual conflab and bought them. It was quicker and less painful than I had envisaged but it did involve walking the length of Kingston to get to the shop we had started in.

By now the girls were hungry so, being the health conscious type of Father, I bought them each a massive ice cream sundae and a Diet Coke. They ate happily while I looked in a shoe shop. I was talking to someone last week about how, as we get older, many of us get a far better idea of exactly what we like and dislike. For the last year I have been looking for a very specific pair of boots for myself and yesterday I found them. I tried them on, bought them, left the shop, all in about five minutes. Ok, I had spent a year looking for them but that's just detail.

That was it, job done. We decided to forget about the trainers and headed home. Me, my two girls, many large bags of shopping and a wallet that was a few hundred quid lighter than it was earlier. All was sweet.

Until we got home and their purchases were shown to their Mother.

"I told you NOT to get buckles, she's not allowed them at school." she bellowed in my general direction.

"Umm, I thought you said to get buckles and she was looking everywhere for some WITH buckles." I said, feebly.

No use, she wasn't convinced. Of course it wasn't my daughter's fault, it was all mine. Something about not listening or some other rubbish. Now we have to buy some more boots without buckles for her to wear to school or risk the wrath of her teacher.

Wimmin eh - can't live with 'em and can't live with 'em.

And that was my Sunday.

Kids eh - love them to bits.

Wimmin' - A different matter altogether!


Indyana said...

this was hilarious, and ur daughters sound like the have daddy wrapped ard their fingers! and well u cld have listened to ur wife..........

Darwin said...

Your daughters sound like they know exactly how to get what they want from you:) My father has zero patience when it comes to shopping (if I'm stuck deciding between A and B I dare not tell him lest he takes both A AND B to the checkout)

I cannot vouch for all women but shoe-shopping is a strange thing. Unless the perfect shoe is found, it's rarely a rewarding experience. And usually, the perfect shoe just 'clicks' with you and you know you really like it for reasons you cannot quite explain. Sort of like this

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Indyana - Listened to my wife!! Don't be ridiculous now.

darwin - Maybe I'll get your Father's details and get some lessons from him. I think the perfect shoe only lasts about 2 weeks for most of the women in my family!

sach said...

Hello there. Loved the post as usual. I should get my dad to read this. I'm one of those daughters with her dad wrapped around her finger. I am and from the looks of it, will always be the quintessential daddy's little girl. I love taking him shopping with me because he too never looks at price tags. Never.

Exactly seven years back I fell in love with a gorgeous pair of slippers which cost 1500/=. No big deal now but at that point I guess it was cos my mother said no, that kind of money will not be spent on a 12 year old, especially not on a pair of slippers. This was followed by a few tears and a small tantrum in the middle of Crescat.Still she didn't budge so we came home and dad went for work.

In the night he walked into my room and handed me a bag. They were the slippers. Needless to say, I have an excellent relationship with my father. :) And in my defence, I wore those slippers for the next 3 years and still treasure them though they are no longer wearable.

About Wimmin', let me tell you this much. It's fun being one. To have this much power over a man is most convenient. Your kids are still young. A few more years and you'll need a separate blog to write about them manipulating you.


Yusuf said...

That was hillarious.

I have not reached the stage where i can talk about shopping with my daughter, but I can totally realte to you from the viewpoint of shopping with women.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Sach - Thanks for that comment, it was virtually a post in its own right. I dread the time, which isn't far away, when my girls get to your age. Then I'll have real problems!

Yusuf - Thanks for that. Remember me when you do go shopping with a daughter.

~ lo$t $oul ~ said...

ahhh pooor fella.. seems like your lil grls have you in their tight grip :D all in all its good.. explained to details of the rare occasion, a man taking two grls shopping. a frightful occurance. but i dont mind shopping, but never do window, remember to take pair of skates or skateboard along with something else for your amusement or you'd be knocked out with all the matchin/looks good/should i buy question...?!?!?

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Lo$t - I'll see if I can take a pair of drumsticks along next time!

Theena said...

Rhythmic - hehe, funny. I empathize with you cause I'd probably end up in such a situation. Too early to say about the daughters, but a hen pecked husband I am going to be. :)

Anonymous said...

It's a learning curve. My dad flatly refuses to come shoppin with us now.
Enjoy it while you can though, you'll miss it when your daughters grow up and get married:)

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

anon - I think I'm on the cusp at the moment! In future I would happily leave them with the Mother to do their thing