We took a long drive last Saturday to go to an upscale mall in West Palm Beach. Gorgeous wanted to visit a Williams and Sonoma store and start the process of buying a new set of silverware. Our previous set was a cast-off from my previous marriage that was ultimately donated to a Goodwill store in Oregon prior to our moving. Since arriving here in Florida we’ve been using Dollar Store utensils. I guess five months is enough of a wait. Time to grow up and eat like the big kids do.
This West Palm Beach mall is fancy with lots of famous designer stores. None appear to be any of those “franchisey,” contractual knockoff versions that you see at outlet malls. These are the actual, honest-to-goodness stores exactly as you find them in magazine pictures or on TV when a Kim Kardashian or Lily Collins step out from their Paris, New York, or L.A location and into the paparazzi glare. I saw no paparazzi in this mall though, unless you include teenagers with their camera phones.
Once the silverware was selected and purchased, Gorgeous chose to roam to her heart’s content without me as an appendage. I made my obligatory trip to the food court, and we agreed that I would call her when I finished eating so we could reunite.
I should clarify at the outset that these kinds of stores hold no interest to me other than perhaps observing the clientele to whom they serve. It all makes for great people watching, and I did think at the time that it could be good fodder for a future posting. And so it is. But alas, writing about the affluent is not where I’m headed right now. Lest you think I’m about to conjure a blogospheric class warfare here, think again. On this day, I chose instead to turn my attentions solely to myself, your humble blogger.
Just as President Kennedy discovered in 1961, as Parisians adored his lovely wife, and he famously described himself as “the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris,” likewise I became the man who accompanied Gorgeous to the Gardens Mall of West Palm Beach.¹ I experienced this fully when we reunited later in the afternoon, and I followed her from store to store. She, having read about the mall and its many upscale establishments prior to our visit, dressed appropriately. I, thinking this was simply an hour and 20 minute drive to buy silverware, dressed in my de rigueur of cargo shorts and a jersey shirt. Unless we’re going out to dinner or a show, we never quite pull off the look of a Jack & Jackie, Brad & Angelina, or Will & Jada. Think of the erstwhile Lyle and Julia, and you get closer.
I located Gorgeous as she was being feted by a Saks Fifth Avenue make-up counter saleswoman. As I approached from the side, I noticed two of the woman’s colleagues giving me the once over. When I sidled up next to my lovely wife, I got an equally suspicious glance from the saleswoman herself until Gorgeous greeted with me a, “Hi, honey.” We laughed about this as we made our way to Nordstrom to see if we could replicate the experience. Like Prince Philip walking two paces behind the queen, I watched with amusement as sales staff came up to Gorgeous to offer her their wares, only to again glance sideways with suspicion at me.
Self-deprecation aside, I do understand that my presence was most likely viewed as a potential sales loss. Husbands, boyfriends, or even stalkers probably ruin sales at department store cosmetic counters. Jewelry counters perhaps not, but make-up counters I suspect yes. Still, there’s nothing like being made to feel as if you’re that rube who’s been following the pretty woman since an earlier encounter at the Sbarro.
On our drive home we continued to laugh and talk about the reactions of the saleswomen. I married this wonderful lady because not only do I truly believe she is the most beautiful woman in the world, but also because she treats all people with whom she comes into contact with kindness and respect. Unlike her jaded husband, she will only look askance at anyone unless there is a reason to do so. I admire that.
We bought only two settings of the silverware. As it’s been explained to me, this is so we can save money and buy more on an incremental basis. But I’m no fool; I’m hip to her diabolical plan. I suspect that over the next several months there will be additional trips back to the fancy mall to get more until we have a full place setting. Depending on my mood, I may or may not decide to dress the part of upscale consumer. When you strip away the false facade of “upscale,” this is still just a mall. It’s not Rodeo Drive, Park Avenue, or Bond Street.
I’ll meet you at the Steak ‘n Shake.
¹ Were Senator Lloyd Bentsen still alive to read this, he would no doubt remind me that I am no Jack Kennedy. No truer words could possibly be said.