A Valen­tine’s Day vic­tim of Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret

Imperial Valley Press - - OPINION - JA­SON GRAVES Jase (Ja­son) Graves can be con­tact at Graves at su­san­jase@sbc­global.net

As Valen­tine’s Day ap­proached this year, I was at a loss re­gard­ing how to sur­prise my wife with a gift that would truly show my love and ap­pre­ci­a­tion to her for not smoth­er­ing me in my sleep. My daugh­ters had pre­sented their Valen­tine’s wish lists (yes, wish lists) shortly after Christ­mas, so I’d al­ready fi­nanced their gifts. But my wife (who never asks for any­thing other than that I avoid play­ing with that app on my phone that makes 500 dif­fer­ent bod­ily noises — in church) was a harder nut to crack. Then the clouds parted when I checked the mail re­cently to find, ad­dressed to me, a spe­cial of­fer from Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret. My in­ter­nal re­joic­ing over my coupon was sud­denly in­ter­rupted, how­ever, when I read the hor­ri­fy­ing phrase in fine print, “In-store only.” I didn’t even think men were al­lowed in that place. In fact, when­ever I go the mall, I risk con­tact with the mall kiosk sales­peo­ple hawk­ing be­span­gled phone cases, Dead Sea beauty cream, and Dip­pin’ Dots as I veer away and avert my eyes from the Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret en­trance, fes­tooned with man­nequins who for­got to put on their pants. This time, though, I was de­ter­mined I wouldn’t let my self-re­spect keep me from mak­ing a ro­man­tic ges­ture at a dis­count.

Ap­par­ently, un­der­wear at Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret is cat­e­go­rized ac­cord­ing to how much of it is miss­ing. As I snuck through the store, I ex­pected at any mo­ment to see a ta­ble dis­play fea­tur­ing noth­ing but spools of thread. When I fi­nally found some­thing I could iden­tify as hu­man gar­ments, I then had to find the cor­rect size, which in­volved ri­fling through stor­age bins be­low the dis­play ta­ble and con­stantly look­ing over my shoul­der like a ma­niac to see if any­one was watch­ing. Sure enough, it didn’t take long for a sales as­so­ciate (wear­ing all black — pre­sum­ably for my fu­neral) to show up and ask, “May I help you, sir?” just loudly enough for mall se­cu­rity to hear. I had no choice but to be com­pletely hon­est, so I told her I was look­ing for socks, to which she replied at full vol­ume, “You’re in the wrong drawer. Those are the cheekies.”

Once I’d fi­nally made my se­lec­tions with the help of the panty po­lice and was mak­ing my way to check out, I did no­tice a few other men in the store with their wives. One was ex­am­in­ing a hair­line seam in the wall­pa­per while his wife browsed through the hi­phug­gers, and an­other was be­ing in­ter­rupted from count­ing ceil­ing tiles by his wife de­mand­ing that he smell the glit­tered body sprays with her. One man who was there with his teenaged daugh­ters glanced at me with a de­feated look of sol­i­dar­ity in his eyes, and I could have sworn he mouthed the words, “Please, help me!” Un­for­tu­nately, I could of­fer no help to these fel­low suf­fer­ers as my main goal at that point was to es­cape with­out fur­ther hu­mil­i­a­tion. Those hopes were dashed, though, when I saw the enor­mous check­out line. While I stood wait­ing in dis­grace, a woman be­hind me ac­tu­ally leaned for­ward to say, “Your wife cer­tainly is lucky you shop for her here. My hus­band would never do that.” Of course he wouldn’t, I thought, it’s called dig­nity! She was prob­a­bly just try­ing to con­vince her­self that I wasn’t pre­par­ing for elec­tive surgery so I could use my choice of bath­rooms at Tar­get.

The ex­pe­ri­ence didn’t im­prove when I reached the cashier. I tried to con­ceal my em­bar­rass­ment by mak­ing jokes. “Do you have a dress­ing room? Do these match my eyes?” The cashier just raised her eye­brows and was prob­a­bly reach­ing for a panic but­ton un­der the counter. Her re­sponse was to hand me my mer­chan­dise in a scorch­ing-pink bag specif­i­cally de­signed to hu­mil­i­ate me as I walked through the mall and out to my car.

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