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Shopping offers new standard for embarrassment

Most of the time, I can muster up a little pride.

That’s good, of course, because it helps me to avoid the terrible burden that comes with utter embarrassment and self-loathing — the kind of embarrassment and self-loathing I avoided for some time before it came visiting again Tuesday night.

If they tracked all-time low behavior as they do temperatures, the one I hit the other night would have tied the longstanding mark set at Dayton International Airport in 1905, years before it was even an airport.

Still, I want you to know there’s a perfectly good reason, or at least a plausible explanation, for why I reached that low.

The fact is, it didn’t register with me at all when my wife calmly leaned over and lowered her purse into my lap as I sat in a department store shoe area.

OK, technically it was women’s section I was seated in. But I’m sure the nice sales lady would have brought me some men’s shoes from the other side there had I asked.

Any way you cut it, though, the explanation for all collapse of manly behavior is the same: I’d slipped into a shopping coma.

It was a coma so deep, that after she’d lowered the purse, I nodded in silent, prideless and comatose assent when she said: “You’ll keep an eye on this for me, won’t you?”

Look, I’m not gonna lie to you here. That should be pretty obvious by now.

I’ve worked purse security before. And I’ll probably do it again.

Nonetheless, I usually maintain standards for the manly art of purse guarding: When the restaurant’s tablecloth is short, the purse stays on the opposite side of the table, observing a proper distance from the man of the house.

Only when the cloth is longer, do I permit her to slip it next to me, at which time, I inflate my chest and imagine the boost of virility that comes to a man who has just taken his first treatment for low testosterone.

Having descended into my shopping coma, however, even the restaurant standards went out the window.

In my defense, it was my third concussion-like shopping injury of the day.

The first had come at the fabric store.

“I should be just a minute.”

“Just a minute” turned out to be 45. And it felt more like the time it would take to teach our year-old grandson to count to 45 — while changing every diaper that needed changing along the way.

To add insult to injury, not a thread was purchased at the fabric store.

At store two, I was better prepared and took along a book, which I read while sitting by the other dummies in the display window.

Well, before we got out of there, all the snow had melted out of the treads in my tennis shoes, and there was so much liquid sin front of me on the floor that one of the attractive sales clerks took pity, approached me and said, in a voice as polite as she could muster: Sir, can I help you find the men’s room?

All of which set the scene for shopping’s perfect storm when we entered the women’s shoe department about 9:30 p.m. SCHT (Seventh Circle of Hell Time) to look for the unattainable Holy Grail of Shopping: Women’s shoes.

Now, as I recall my science history, Albert Einstein made a prediction about twins based on his special theory of relativity.

He said that if Twin One blasted off in a rocket and traveled through space for what seemed to him to be, say, 10 years, when he returned, he would appear to be much younger than Twin Two, who stayed on earth.

The unknown truth is that as part of the experiment, Einstein imprisoned Twin Two in a Vienna retail outlet near Christmas time – a place in which Twin Two heard so many Andy Williams Christmas songs that he tried to smother himself with sweaters and, when that failed, requested hospice care three times during Twin One’s absence, though doctors could find nothing physically wrong.

A final fact before I leave you.

The term originally applied to the practice of strapping someone to a bed, putting electric probes on both sides of his head and having him bite down on a stick while the electricity from the Christmas tree pulsed through his brain in hopes of lifting his spirits?

It was not shock therapy, as is commonly thought.

It was named shop therapy for the condition of patients so desperate that doctors actually thought running electricity through their brains might improve their moods.

Warning: Counting today, there are 10 shopping days until Christmas.

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