I went shopping yesterday. I know! A rare thing indeed.
It was stressful.
Shopping is NOT my favourite thing to do, but it was raining and gloomy and while it was a welcome break from the extremely hot weather we have had this week, rainy days are the only days I will half consider a trip to town.
I regretted it almost as soon as we had left the house. The traffic was a nightmare, the shops were heaving and everyone seemed to be arguing.
When I say everyone, I mean the couples.
Isn’t it weird how people are a lot nicer to almost everyone, except their partners.
Us Brits are known for our exceptionally good behaviour, we are polite and courteous and never cause a fuss or make a scene. We queue for hours without complaint and we drink tea and eat muffins and are all very proper, or so people think. However, women and I mean women in relationships, can lose their shit in a nanosecond and they don’t care who sees it.
Strolling around a well known department store, Elsie is looking for picture frames and has been for what seems like days. My enthusiasm was starting to wan slightly as she held aloft the 400th sparkly silver frame, which was very similar, if not identical to the 399th one she had previously shoved under my nose. Therefore, I couldn’t help being easily distracted by a young girl in her late twenties who was busy shouting (but not shouting), at her boyfriend for not being as enthusiastic about the huge choice of cushions as she was. Standing in the aisle with a handful of different colour cushions she was clearly expecting the boyfriend to choose one, maybe two, or to make a decision about how many, which style?
She is young. She does not know yet, this is a futile exercise that will only end in tears.
A quick shrug of the shoulders from the boyfriend who had been happily gazing off into the distance somewhere, probably wondering how he ended up here in the first place (not here in the shop but here full stop… Wife/girlfriend/baby/house/shackles/no light at the end of the tunnel). “I’m not fussed babe, you get the ones you like,” he says without so much as a backward glance, eyes distracted by something in the other direction, far away from his wailing child and indecisive girlfriend.
It was a fairly standard response I thought (not that I was eavesdropping of course), I have certainly heard worse, but I almost heard the buzzer go off!
I watched as her head swivelled 360 degrees and waited…
The standard response of ‘get whatever you want babe’ had heads turning for miles, men older and wiser, also shopping with their partners stopped and looked on in sympathy, that knowing look in their eyes. A brotherhood unable to help a comrade without causing a storm of their own. They can’t take sides, they can’t speak up and say; just pick a cushion, any cushion, it doesn’t matter which one, but whatever you do don’t say THAT.
The wrath of a woman is something you can never quite understand. I am a woman and I have no idea where it comes from, or why the littlest things turn you in to the ugliest monster, but they do.
The poor boyfriend who at this point is still unware that a storm is coming, has turned away now, his mind drifting off into the endless sea of faces and colours that swim before him. Ooo! Is that something shiny over there? What little attention she had, gone.
Suddenly an icy breeze swept through the air.
Then it came, the barrage of insults and complaints about how useless he is and how she doesn’t know why she bothers and he could at least pretend he gives a shit. Why does he come if he isn’t interested in anything, walking around with a face like a slapped arse all day? You fucking piss me off, she muttered. Not quite loud enough for everyone to hear but loud enough for those of us close by to turn and watch boyfriend become suitably embarrassed. The tell tale look that says, ‘Oh Jesus, here she goes again!
His only defence is to try to schmooze his way out, another rookie move. ‘I’m no good this stuff, you know that’ and ‘I’m sorry baby but you are so much better at this than me’ which we all know is completely true, but nether the less is not the bloody point and as he continues to dig himself a hole big enough to bury himself in, she is not going to let him forget that this is THE deal. For life. This IS what you signed up for, actually and you had better get used to the idea, fast.
There are some things that generally speaking (and I know there are ALWAYS exceptions), that couples should not do together and shopping is one of them.
We have all been in this situation before, I know I have. Setting up my very first flat with my then boyfriend, was all very exciting, well it was to me. I was 23 and thought I had made it in the world of all things grown-up. I couldn’t wait to hit the shops, eager to make my house a home, spending hours trawling through the Argos catalogue looking for inspiration. What do you think about this lamp? Or these pictures? What about this pan set? My bf on the other hand was only interested in two things, a large bed and an even larger TV. He couldn’t give a rats arse about frying pans or table lamps and even when he picked one he would inevitably go for the cheapest, not the nicest. Neanderthal!
Weirdly, later on in my ‘let’s live together, it will be fun’ phase, I fell in lust with a guy who was very into home décor and considered himself a bit of a Laurence Llewelyn Bowen when it came to soft furnishings. At first it was great and we talked about how we would do things and what styles we liked, our favourite colours and schemes and pretty soon it became clear that we were not going to agree on anything.
Jesus Christ! Where is the happy medium here?
I wanted to tell her not to bring him next time, go with a friend or your Mum, have some lunch, get a glass a wine and discuss the bloody cushions with her, or get whatever cushions you like, but don’t ask him. He won’t give a shit and even if he does give a shit, the chances are that whatever colour/style/size he goes for will be the wrong fucking ones anyway. You will want the other ones!
By all means take your bf shopping, but don’t expect him to participate. In most relationships it is still 90% true (I should mention that this figure was plucked from thin air), that men and women have roles to play and while you may not consider yourself a Stepford wife your bf is certainly not going to be responsible for making your home look pretty. So pick the cushions you like and enjoy them. When you are sprawled across them later in something sexy he still won’t notice the cushions, but it won’t matter then because you have the ones you like.
I am all for couples doing couples things, making memories, having fun, enjoying the little things but shopping! Some things are just not worth the fallout.
Couple goals? What does that even mean?
Elsie informs me as we were discussing the whole event on the way home, that couple goals are the things you should be doing together when you are in a relationship. Oh! is that it? I thought it was something massive like saving for a house or going on the trip of a lifetime? No! It is going to Costa in matching cardigans, ordering matching ginger and vanilla frappes with heart shaped froth and snapping it for everyone to see. #couplegoals
Everyday couple goals. Spending time together, as one…
… and back in the real world.