While my wife is trying on dresses, I sit in the overstuffed chair sipping coffee which the salesgirl has served. A coffee table separates me from a matching chair where another husband sits. There are copies of Elle, G.Q. and Esquire on the table. The other husband also has coffee. Nordstrom’s sales strategy is to comfort and pamper us husbands, lulling us to inaction as our wives freely shop. But I am hardly inactive. Here, among the designer dresses, I am on the prowl, the hunter, the lover, the psychic seducer.
I sip my coffee. The wife of the other husband exits the dressing room, approaches her husband tentatively and asks, "What do you think?" He is clever. He smiles and asks in turn, "Do you like it, honey?" "Yes, but what do you think?" "It's great," he says, but he can hardly disguise his impatience. I know that his real thoughts are, "Hurry up! Buy it and let's get out of here."
Actually, the dress looks like a loose sack on her. It hides what I had observed earlier to be a curvaceous body. I had closely studied her as she displayed a number of dresses still on their hangers to her husband before she disappeared into the dressing room.
My imagination had followed her into the dressing room and watched her strip to her underwear to try on the dress. She wore a pink lacy bra that hooked in front. There was a spattering of freckles sprinkled across her full breasts which were lovely and which should not be lost and unseen in that sack. Her legs were exquisitely shaped, from narrow ankles to supple and firm calves and thighs.
Now she stands before her husband, still undecided about the dress and uncertain about his easy acquiescence to her choice. I stare at her with a bemused look. When she glances my way and notices my stare, I move my head in a slight, nearly imperceptible negative nod. She blushes, looks away and darts back into the dressing room. She returns without the dress. "I don't think it really fits well," she says, and her husband shrugs, gets up and walks away. She starts to follow him, but as she passes in front of me, she glances down. And I again nod at her, but this time with an approving slight nod and with a small smile.
Our eyes meet. She hesitates, stops, and returns my smile. She does not look away, permitting me to imagine us connected in an immeasurably brief moment of intimacy, holograms of ourselves embracing in space, in open but secret defiance of our oblivious spouses. When she averts her eyes, the hologram vanishes. It is over, we are done, and she is gone.
My wife soon emerges from the dressing room, three new dresses in hand, unaware of my psychic, silent, secret infidelity. As is our usual habit, we terminate our outing in Nordstrom’s third floor cafe, where we sip cappuccinos and chat. Across the room from us, I see my anonymous lover from the designer dresses section. I catch her eye and smile. But the magic of our earlier intimacy is not repeated. She turns away as if I were a total stranger.
I shrug and return my attention to my wife. We talk about my daughter's wedding plans, how lucky we are to have a good cleaning lady, and when am I going to get around to cleaning out the garage, an item on the honey-do list for the past year or so.
When my cappuccino is but a residue of foam at the bottom of the cup, we leave.
My wife is pleased with her new dresses.
I, too, am content. It has been a pleasant afternoon shopping at Nordstrom.
© Kerry Gough 2013-2015