A few quick disclaimers:
Wifie wouldn’t give her blessing for this post unless I made it clear this doesn’t happen every single month. OK. Not EVERY month.
Also, I had to be somewhat vague. I think you’ll get the point.
As always, no actual student names are used. If a student is mentioned, the name has been changed.
There are certain things they don’t tell guys before they get married. They don’t tell them that for the rest of their God given lives, they will be forced to sleep on approximately 1/8 of the bed, while the wifie is free to roam the other 7/8. They don’t tell guys that there is no such thing as winning an argument – that even if a guy presents the more compelling case and effectively “wins” the argument… well, that ends up being a loss too.
Most importantly, no one tells guys that once they are married, they will need to go shopping for certain “necessities” once each month.
Now, this really shouldn’t be a problem. I mean honestly, it’s nature. It is part of the miracle of life. Women all over the globe experience the same phenomenon regularly, and have done so for countless ages. There’s no need to be embarrassed about it…
But its still rough on guys. I think a few things upset guys about this. First of all, the failure to plan. I mean, come on – really? You didn’t know this was going to happen? Then, you have the fact that it’s ALWAYS an emergency. I like things to be on an even keel – I don’t want to have to rush to the store and back again. I’d rather sit at home and think about starting a new exercise program while eating chips and reading articles on espn.com. And then there’s the whole fact that you’re a dude buying a lady product of a sensitive nature. And, yes, no one is going to think that the guy is actually using the product – in fact, many will think “what a nice fella – he’s taking care of his lady.” But there’s just something about it that brings embarrassment… furtive glances around the store; going up and down low traffic aisles that you normally avoid; and most importantly using the self check out to avoid direct human contact.
Let me reiterate that this is typically an issue EARLY in the relationship. After a few years, the guy becomes a seasoned veteran. No longer secretive, he proudly takes his monthly journey to the store and walks around with pride. If he has a shopping cart, he makes sure to place the package where all can see it and know: here is a man that knows no shame. Sometimes, he will even walk up and down the aisles while tossing the package in the air – not even a hint of embarrassment. Ice water runs through his veins – he is a master of feminine care.
I’ll admit to having run the gauntlet through my married years. At first, I was humiliated to go on the monthly shopping trip of shame. Then, I started to embrace it. Finally, I became a bold shopper, ready to show the world my purchase. After 13 years of marriage, nothing much can embarrass you.
Unless, of course, you shop where your students shop.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I was forced to make my usual monthly run to Meijer Thrifty Acres to purchase necessary goods. I noticed the parking lot was more full than usual, but I was in good spirits – this wasn’t an “emergency” run, so I wasn’t in a hurry. I even grabbed the sale paper on the way in to look for other bargains. Of course, I stopped to grab my “key” purchase first, as I wanted everyone to know what a loving husband I am. Then, I took a stroll back to the main aisle.
There, I saw one of my students – a young man of 15. Now, normally I love living in the same community where I teach. Its always wonderful to see kids out and about town, and chat with them and their parents outside of the walls of the school. I love that interaction. This was no different. We chatted for a few moments about our upcoming break and Christmas and whether or not he was buying any gifts for a lady in the class… and then he looked into the cart.
Conversation stopped. His eyes were huge as they snapped back up to mine, his mouth moving but making no sound. He clearly had no idea how to handle such a moment.
I knew the conversation was lost, so I bid him farewell and moved deeper into the store. I turned a corner, and ran smack into another student and her parent. I smiled and attempted conversation, but all eyes were already on the package in my cart. What was happening here? Of all people, a mother and daughter ought to understand, right? The mother mumbled, “so nice to see you,” and put her hand behind her daughter’s back and propelled her onward. Awash in embarrassment such as I hadn’t felt since 2004, I decided to cut my shopping trip short and head for the checkout aisle. I also did something I had not done for many years – I dropped the sale paper over the package. I hid my shame.
As luck would have it, I wasn’t quite done having conversations that day. At the front of the store, one of my older students stopped me to talk. I was a little edgy, but having covered the package with the paper, I felt somewhat safe. Then, I noticed her cocking her head… she was trying to see what was under the paper. I glanced down and realized it had shifted to the side a bit, exposing a just enough packaging to reveal the contents. Her eyes met mine, and she smirked, but she continued chatting for a few more moments before taking her leave. Whew. At least that encounter wasn’t too awkward.
I paid and headed home, off the hook for another month. I felt exhausted, but triumphant. I had faced adversity and survived to shop another day.
The next day I was prepping my classroom for the day as students filed in for first hour. The boy I had seen at Meijer arrived a bit early. We made eye contact, but he said nothing. I felt like we had reached a silent understanding. The girl I saw with her mom shuffled in as well, and just sat looking at her binder, no words to share. All the discomfort from yesterday was over – it was time to learn about the Age of Exploration.
Just before class started, another girl came in – one I had not seen at the store. She set down her backpack and announced to the class, “Mr. S was at Meijer last night! And he was buying “feminine products” for his wife!!!!”
I glanced around the room in horror. The boy had his head down on the desk, shaking it back and forth. The other girl, eyes locked on mine, was nodding her head vigorously up and down. “How do you know what I was doing last night,” I asked as the rest of the class erupted into laughter.
“Emmy tweeted that she saw you buying “necessities” at Meijer and you were trying to hide them! The whole school knows!!!”
The laughter still rings in my ears.
I blame the wifie. Why the heck do I have to buy her stuff every month?!?!? Why can’t she do it herself?
I guess I’m just gonna go sleep on my 1/8 of the bed now…