Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wife-Led Shopping – The Ultimate Test, Part 1

In an interview in Maxim magazine [January, 2007], actress Lacey Chabert was asked how a guy could impress her. She answered: "The true test is if he's willing to go shopping with me. Will you go shopping, and will you hold the purse while I'm looking around and trying stuff on? He should be interactive and make comments, too, rather than reiterating how bored he is."

Is Ms. Chabert right? Does co-ed shopping constitute a “true test” of romantic chivalry and “female-led”? What’s so difficult about publicly escorting the object of one’s affection into the retail depths of the Estrogen Zone (especially if one is being leashed and led by a delicious creature like Ms. Chabert)?

Yet, for a surprising number of guys, even would-be submissive guys, the female-led shopping experience can be alarming. It is almost as if they fear they will never emerge again, at least not with full macho functionality intact.

And maybe they’re right to be wary, even fearful. Witness what happened to one poor doofus after who knows how many wife-led shopping expeditions: “I enjoy shopping with my wife now, watching 'chick' flicks, etc. Is this normal?”

So let’s talk about it. After all, one of the chief purpose of this blog, like my book (inspired by Lady Misato’s original online support group for husbands), is to encourage guys, married or single, to share their woman-worshipping dreams and yearnings, along with any associated fears.

That was the spirit in which, around a decade ago, I posted the following confession on Lady M’s Husbands’ Forum:

“One area in which I've been a typical inconsiderate husband is shopping. Always looking for a place to sit down, wondering how long we're going to be in a particular store, looking bored, massively fatigued. Like many husbands, I even have to be dragged into men's departments to replace my won wardrobe, kept in the changing booth while my wife hands me stuff, over my protests that I don't need anything! It got to where she would ask me if I wouldn't mind if she looked around a bit before we left the mall, or would it be okay if we went into a particular store, or up to the next level. What an inconsiderate boob I've been.
“I've decided to reform. Okay, it's not ever going to be my favorite thing. But pleasing her is. And I'm going to make it clear that from now on, I'll be happy to accompany her into any store, she can shop as long as she wants, I won't complain, looked bored, etc. I'll be right with her, offering an opinion if asked, delighted to be beside her, carrying parcels, etc. About time, too.”

Have I kept that resolve? I wish I could say yes. Truth is, I’m still a mall-walking foot-dragger, looking for a place to plop down, preferably in front of a TV showing a game, any game. Not so for another member of Lady Misato’s forum, the oft-quoted Au876. was quick to offer support for my resolve to reform by sharing his own story:

“I had the same shopping problems in the past. Mostly shopping is just not a ‘man’ thing. We know what we want, go get it and get out. But that has changed now. I go with my wife (if invited -- sometimes she likes to go alone). I carry the packages. The last time she went clothes shopping - about two months ago - she got a bunch of clothes to try on. They only allowed two things in the dressing room at a time. I stood outside her dressing cubicle. She'd try on something, send me to get a different size or color, put it in the ‘to buy’ stack or back on the rack. Several times she sent me to get a certain color shoe to see how the dress went with them. Several other customers were struggling with trying on clothes without the help of their husbands. I found myself busting with pride to be so much help to my wife.”

Au876’s description of catering to his wife while shopping came as a revelation to me at the time. What a pioneer! I thought. What I was promising to do, this man had actually done, in defiance of masculine nature. If he could do this impossible thing, then other guys could, too.

And, indeed, I began to come across quotes from other husbands who, like wild broncos broken to the saddle, had learned to follow their wives obediently not only into department stores, but into all the feminine departments thereof, to fetch and carry and never speak a discouraging word. I saved a lot of these posts, and I offer them here as evidence of what a man can achieve if his wife sets his mind to it:

Let’s start with several examples from the old Spousechat board:

“Once Lisa was trying on some skirts at a department store. The saleswoman was assisting her and I was sitting in the ‘husbands’ chair with Lisa's packages, purse, etc. The saleswoman said that perhaps she should try a size 4. Lisa, without even looking in my direction, points in my direction and snaps her fingers. I immediately go to her and she simply says ‘go find this in a size 4’. The saleswoman smiled and I heard her say, ‘Boy, he sure is handy.’”

“The company I am working for sent me to a town about 180 miles away from where I live. We had lunch and did some shopping before we returned to the home office. Mr. Lynda followed us through the shopping mall and carried out packages. When I tried on a new outfit, I had him hold my purse.”

Ms. Lynda, I frequently accompany my wife shopping, and on occasion, one or two of her friends will shop with her and I will happily accompany them. In order to make their shopping more enjoyable, not only will I carry their packages, but I will even take the outfits Lisa wants to try on to the dressing room for her and stand in line to pay so she doesn't have to. I'll hold her purse and her friends’ purses if they want me to. I've never received anything but compliments from women, customers and salespeople alike. On occasion, a man will say something like, ‘Boy, does she have you trained,’ usually jokingly. Any man who is saying this to me is probably out shopping with his wife as well and is probably also doing as he is told.
“When shopping with Lisa, I cater to her every demand without the slightest complaint. I even get on my knees and take off and put on her shoes for her when she is shoe shopping. Once, a saleswoman was joking with Lisa as I was trying a pair of shoes on her. The saleswoman asked if Lisa makes me kiss her feet, so I playfully kissed Lisa's instep, both of them were entertained by this.”

Another aspect of wife-led shopping, of course, is for the modern knight errant to be sent forth by his damsel in quest of needed feminine items:

“As I begin to do more and more of the shopping by myself, I am having a little problem buying tampons and other feminine products. So far, Lynda has always been with me. How do you cope with everyone looking at you?”

“I have no problem buying most of Lisa's personal products, even pantyhose or hair and skin care products at the salon, but I must confess that the feminine hygiene products I do still find incredibly embarrassing to buy. The way to do it is to just mix them in with a large food order at the grocery store, and stay away from the younger checkout employees. The older ones will never say anything, the younger ones have.”

Charles, who, at the urging of Ms. Lynda began calling himself “Mr. Lisa,” goes on to describe one of these solo shopping expeditions in quest of personal items:

“This morning Lisa gave me a shopping list which required a trip to Victoria's Secret to get her four pair of pantyhose (Lisa really likes their pantyhose, although at $14.00 a pair, I think they are expensive). I approached the counter and told the saleswoman why I was there, and of course, she smiled and thought it was great. Two customers at the counter also thought it was fantastic that my wife sent me out to buy her pantyhose… Then it was off to the hair salon to get Lisa's shampoo and styling gel…”

Another Spousechatter, styling himself “Uxorious Husband,” takes up this same theme: “Learn to shop for her; learn what she likes, what colors, styles. Yes, you do have to be trained! That means going to shop with her over and over again, no more helpless mall bench sitting. No, sir. Go to every shop, ask detailed questions. Let her try on the whole store if she likes. Smell, look, taste, compare. Your style should be an extension of her style.”

Au876 also recommends taking careful notes on a wife’s sizes and preferences as an excellent way for a husband to make the most of mall outings (and earn future bonus points):

“I watched her like a hawk when she took me shopping. She would pick up things and make comments. To me this was a window into her likes and dislikes. I checked out her closet, not just for the obvious things like shoe size, but what colors were in her palate and what stores she shopped at.”

Fdhousehusband (whose discontinued blog, Her househusband’s life, is sorely missed) makes the same point: “I am amazed how many males do not know their wives' dress size, her shoe size, her color preferences, her food preferences, etc… I want to find out everything i can about Her. The more I know, the better I can serve her.”

Offering one’s opinions is fine, to a point. Charles, if you recall, had reservations about the practicality of some of Lisa’s preferences (VS Pantyhose @ $14 a pair). One wonders if he ever actually expressed these opinions to Lisa, as fdhousehusband dared to do to his wife-leader, with immediate consequences:

“Like most of America, we spent the day after Thanksgiving shopping. I followed along mostly to carry the bags. I made the mistake of saying that I thought the some of the items were too expensive. She didn't change her demeanor but continued to smile and enjoy the shopping experience with our daughters. When the girls were both in the changing room, she took me aside out of hearing range from anyone and chastised me. ‘Listen, I make almost all the money for this family. It is my money to spend as I see fit. Understand?’ she said. I apologized and she turned to walk back to the changing room. I meekly followed her carrying her bags of purchases.”

Now I wrote that around a decade ago, Au876’s description of catering to his wife while shopping came as a revelation to me. Later I learned that Elise Sutton, that intrepid Internet pioneer of Loving Female Authority, had earlier formulated female-led shopping as one of the procedures she offered to wives just exploring the lifestyle: “Elise Sutton's Procedure No. 10: Public Outing (a trip to a shopping mall was never more fun)”

One husband described Ms. Sutton’s outing thus: “A woman’s day shopping trip, with the woman dressed seductively, or in leather skirt or boots, anything powerful. The male follows behind carrying packages and taking orders. The woman drops hints to cashiers, interested shoppers or women waiting in line. If any are interested, again they are explained the dynamics of the relationship.”

Judging from Elise Sutton’s “Real Stories” archives, there has been no shortage of wives eager to give Procedure No. 10 a trial run, with results gratifying (in different ways) to both parties. An example:

“Dear Elise, I followed your exercise and I made my husband walk behind me and carry my purchases. I was nervous at first, but as the day went on I grew very comfortable and confident. I bought a lot of clothes and other things. I was really having a great time shopping, as this was the first time I can ever remember that my husband wasn't bitching and complaining the whole time. He couldn't because he wasn't allowed to speak.”

More recently Ms. Sutton has suggested a refinement to female-led shopping, especially when mall parking is at a premium. The wife can “send her husband early in the morning, before the mall opens and have him get a spot near the door. Then when his [wife] shows up, communicating via a cell phone so she can find him, she can take the place he has reserved for her… Better yet, have him go and park far away after she has taken his spot and he can join her in the mall and carry her purchases.”

And perhaps carry more than just her purchases, as this observer notes: “Have you ever gone to the mall to people watch? How many times have you noticed a male following a female as she is leading the way? Sometimes he will even hold her purse for her!”

In fact, carrying milady’s handbag carrying seems to be part and parcel of the whole FLR shopping experience, according to much of the online testimony I’ve collected from proud husbands and demanding wives:

“My wife hands her purse to me frequently when errands/shopping - nobody takes notice. She likes being out and about and so this is going to happen frequently as a matter of course. A few times she called out to me in apparel stores to hold her things so she could try some stuff on. Then she would pile stuff in my arms as she went through her various outfits.”

“Last Sunday, at a large outlet shopping center north of New York City, I watched two men laden with shopping bags and their girlfriend's purses as they walked from store to store. The women carried absolutely nothing. The men seemed quite content with their beasts-of-burden status and the women were free to talk and walk without distraction.”

“My wife took me shopping with her on Saturday. For an entire day, I follow her around, holding the clothes that she selects from the racks. I hold her purse (and sometimes her shoes) while she goes into the dressing room. I carry her selections to the register and pay for them. Then, of course, I carry all her bags. I take her to lunch. I'm basically her fawning, pussy-whipped husband for the entire shopping day. “

“We went shopping two nights ago at a local mall. I saw a lot of men sitting on benches in the pedestrian areas waiting for their wife. Not me. I was following in her footsteps carrying all the packages and most of the time her purse. My shoulders and back ached by the time we got home. Then I had to rub and feet and give her a massage. I really feel good about myself right now. I feel so useful to her.”

“On Monday, we were shopping and I held her coat on my arm and wore her purse over my shoulder the whole time we were in the mall. Very often she will just hand me her purse to hold.”

Starting to get the picture? Just to make sure, in the continuation of this two-part post, I’m going to offer additional examples of husbands happily harnessed to their shopaholic wives.



whatevershesays said...

Mark: There is a ton to comment on. But I think all men in wife led marriages should carry the bags, open the doors, etc. I do it for my wife but she doesn't want me to carry her purse, she thinks its silly and too over the top.

My favorite moments are when she walks up to a door and then just stands there and waits for me to walk around her and open it. Very obvious. Another is when I walk ahead of her then she stops and looks at me. I then have to go back and stand behind her.

whatevershesays said...

Oh and how could I forget the "He will pay for it." And the "Pay for it, I'll be at (the next store.)

But my all time favorite is while we were at the cashier, my wife noticed it was a hand wash only item. And right in front of the cashier she told me that I was to hand wash it and it was my responsibility.

Mark Remond said...

whatevershesays -
Thanks for adding these to the post. Actually I have to confess that I don't often get the privilege of being taken shopping by my wife these days. More often she will take one or the other of the kids, or go shopping alone, leaving me home with the kids. She may shop for me if she sees something. I don't shop for myself... clothes-shop. I'm hoping that someday I might be taken along on these expeditions again. Meanwhile I have to defer to you and other husbands who are being mall-trained by their wives.