I passed. In the same way I probably passed that economics class at UCLA that I changed to “pass/no pass” after bombing the first test. In a “C+” kind of way.
Last weekend was the annual Byrnes family downtown Seattle pre-Xmas overnight. Sixteen, Nineteen, their mother, and yours truly, playing the token male.
Historically this trip has been the Thanksgiving/Seattle Marathon weekend, but this year we had to wait for Nineteen to return home from college. Normally I use tapering as an excuse to spend the night frozen on the hotel bed watching football and basketball while the three of them do American Eagle, Forever 21, and [insert the name of a female shopping goddess here] only knows what other stores.
This year, with no race to run Sunday morning, I couldn’t use my normal tapering “get out of shopping” card. So I talked myself into going along in the interest of “family time”. I’d rather get a root canal without anesthesia or be the guy in the Tour de France that got flipped over the barbed wire by the reckless driver than watch two young women shop, even my favorite two young women. I decided to approach it as an endurance test, a gender test, a mental toughness test, a selflessness test.
Store one, Forever 21. I asked where Forever 51 was which elicited smiles. Men, the most important thing to know about Forever 21 is it’s inexpensive. If you want to get back at a lady friend that did you wrong, pick her up something there. The ten minutes of watching blonde one and two round up clothes to try on was tougher than expected, but then they disappeared into the changing room and time came to a complete stop. European finance ministers would solve the Euro crisis for good if they committed an equivalent amount of time.
I had prepared for a warm 10k, but was instead running a marathon in Tampa Florida in the middle of a summer afternoon. Totally out of my league. The wife with the bad wheel found a chair to spend the rest of her 51st year in. Losing my mind, I decided to entertain her by dancing to the incessant techno Christmas music. The more she smiled and laughed, the bolder I got, the bolder I got the more she smiled and laughed. In the end, it was probably twice as bad as you’re imagining.
Finally, I sent the wife in after them wondering if they had been abducted. She reported that they’d be ready in “five minutes” which turned into what felt like five hours. Finally, ready to go, but wait, turns out there’s this strange tradition of putting at least one article of clothing on hold. Kind of like throwing a coin in a fountain. This is so you don’t actually have to decide. Turns out you never go back for it, it’s just a game that everyone, shopper and store employee both enjoy playing.
On the way out, the following mind numbing “straw that broke my back” dialogue took place: One xx, “What’s with ponchos, seems like they’re making a comeback?” Another xx, “Oh no, they’re all the way back.” Still another, “Correction, they’re trying to make it back.”
Please make it stop hurting.
Once on 6th Avenue I breathed in the cold fresh air and slowly recovered. Like anyone who had to fight a young Mike Tyson, I knew I was whupped. One round was all I lasted.
As I collapsed on the bed in the gloriously silent unoccupied room I couldn’t help but think how this family tradition would differ if we had two sons. This is all I know for sure. We wouldn’t speak of ponchos, we’d race go-carts, we’d wrestle, and we’d fall asleep watching Hoosiers.