Tax Free and Loving It

Let’s talk about me, shall we? I have an unusual physique. My waist is slightly below average and my backside is, well, not so much. Because of this, pants shopping is seven circles of hell instead of a mildly annoying experience. Today I put my marriage to the test, as I always do when it’s shopping time.

Georgia has one tax-free shopping weekend in early August. It was time. I knew, with football season upcoming and the many me-centric moments to come that it was a perfect opportunity to do something together. We started the day at the Gap in Atlantic Station. Is that where Obama shops for his jeans? I forget.

Jeans have changed in the year or two since I last purchased them. They’re darker. Maybe I notice that since mine have faded to an old or at least middle aged level. They’re also patterned, either with a splotch of lighter color in the front or a kind of horizontal line. I have to say, there’s a little of the early 90s stonewashed look going on. Some jeans are even pre-ripped. Really?

We hit the Gap, and surprisingly it’s not too busy. The token gay man assists us. I give him a once over since Alison’s looking for a gay boyfriend. I think this could be the next big reality show. It’s not meant to be. I try on the “easy fit” jeans, which basically means for people with ample proportions. I get two pair of 36/32. The first fits not at all. It’s tight in the front and back. Lovely. The second pair, which is theoretically the exact same size, fits almost perfectly.

When I go back to the shelves there are no more in that size. I move on to the “standard”. Hoping that the standard will fit is like believing that an NFL wide receiver who always drops the ball will suddenly learn how to catch. As luck would have it, I get a fit.

The shopping theory for me is if I find a pair of pants that fit, I need to sell the store out of their stock. It’s that bad. I tried on four more pair in the same size. None of them fit. I still consider it a success, because most of our shopping experiences end in one of us getting a bit too grrr. We even had a nice lunch at Boneheads where I put the hot piri-piri sauce on my chicken to the point where I was sweating profusely. This is how I usually get when I shop. I needed the experience to complete the day.

Alison got home and found the coupon that we should have brought earlier. I’ll say it, when it comes to coupons, we have a problem. We have a manila folder full of Sunday inserts. It’s rare that we’ll go out to eat without a coupon. Grocery store check-out folks and waiters hate us. I love shopping like Alison loves a football tripleheader, so when she suggested that we go to another mall (two malls in one day?), I kind of laughed it off.

Speaking of coupons, we finished the weekly grocery store list and were ready to go. When it’s time to shop, we have become a well-oiled machine. The oil sometimes drips all over the parking lot, causing a mess. We sometimes go to as many as four stores to complete our shopping. One weekend we discovered that the most efficient method is to go together and split the list. Then we look at the receipts and see how much we really saved with coupons (and fake saved with the Kroger Plus card aka marketing brilliance). We were on the way to Publix when Alison mentioned to her mom on the phone that she had a coupon to the Gap if we wanted to brave the Lennox Mall traffic.

I am a man who doesn’t like to back down from a challenge. Yes, I am an idiot. I went back to a second mall in one day. It was crowded. The line at this store was ten deep. I was not flustered. I tried on a pair of jeans. That was fine. We had a 30% off coupon, but we also had a card from the first store that gave us one free pair if I bought three. I had to find two more pairs to complete the day. I tried on six pairs of jeans as my increasingly flustered wife watched. I finally succeeded and left the mall, hopefully for a long time. And as a bonus, the final three pair of jeans cost less than $80, after the first pair was a heart-attack-inducing $55. For me, anyway.

After that shopping torment, we made our way through Publix, Trader Joe’s, and Kroger. We used a total of 14 coupons, including one for an item that we did not purchase. Take that, America.

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