The very last thing a man should ever do is get between a woman and her sense of fashion. The next worst thing is to try and buy her clothes as a present. That is a huge mistake. The next to the next worst thing is to buy her a gift card, even if it’s to Dillards, where they keep all her clothes. This shows lack of imagination or real effort and she will turn her nose up at the offense. She will still use the gift card, however. She’s not crazy.
I say all this at the risk of divorce or murder, but feel I must. Judy came to me once upon a time with that sad, pouty little girl look on her pretty face and said she wanted my advice. I was very young then, and innocent, so I was tickled to death to hear she wanted my counsel. We sat down at the kitchen table. I smiled. She didn’t smile back. She proceeded to lay out her checkbook, savings records, grocery receipts, credit card statements, car payment, insurance charges, etc. She was showing me the inner workings of her own personal finances. I felt honored. She is an independent woman of her own ways and means. I felt she must truly love me to trust me with what no other human had witnessed before. She was, of course, wanting to know why there was so much ‘month at the end of her money’ as the song goes. I dove in.
As it turned out the answer was plain. The credit card companies were getting a huge chunk of interest each month. This made her mad at the credit card companies. I suggested she might consider not charging quite so much. She countered that cards were ever so much more convenient and kept a record, besides. I agreed. I then suggested she only charge what she could pay off in cash when the statements came in. She looked at me like I was nuts. I dropped the suggestion.
What we came up with was this: We would take some savings and pay off the credit cards one at a time. Coupled with this strategy, we would try to limit our credit purchases, so as not to recreate the original problem, interest charges. The money we saved in interest would be more than sufficient to pay cash for purchases. To show my willingness to put skin in the game, I offered to help pay off one or two of the balances myself. She squealed with delight and hugged me so hard it actually hurt. Happy tears streamed down her cheeks. The sun came out, birds chirped in the trees. I had made my mate a happy person.
But then she went on a diet. This may not seem like a bad thing to some dumb newlywed husband, but it is. What women prize most in life, besides high fashion, is having the figure to fit into high fashion. If a woman’s wardrobe is one size but she finds herself happily reduced by two sizes, then the answer is obvious: A completely new wardrobe is required, and right away. This of course will necessitate the purchase of fashion in bulk quantities without arousing the suspicion of a husband who naively thinks all matters financial have been settled once and for all.
The first thing is to clear out the old in steps and stages before bringing in the new. The changes of season are perfect covers. This keeps the closets looking normal. Second is to refer to all new fashion purchases as, “Oh this old thing? I’ve had it for ages.” Husbands are such easy creatures to fool.
Judy mentioned to me one Fall day that she had packed up some old clothes of mine and a few of hers, and donated them to local charity and thrift shops. Not long afterward, I was sitting at a stop sign in town when a little old lady crossed the street in front of me. She had on the merriest and most vaguely familiar Christmas sweater I’d ever seen, and seemed quite proud of it. I smiled at her and she smiled back as she passed in review. I felt oddly unsettled. A car behind me had to honk to get my attention. I drove away, frowning. At Walmart, I almost spoke to a shopper whose appearance and hairdo reminded me of my bride from a distance, but caught myself. I turned and watched her walking away, a fetching and stylish lady who resembled, but was clearly not, my bride.
It was not long before I began to notice women all over the local neighborhoods, all approximately the same size and appearance, wearing clothes that I swear I had seen before. It was probably just a coincidence.