It is a few years ago and I am in Victoria’s Secret attempting, and I mean attempting, to buy a woman I love a satiny, pink, bathrobe. My hat’s off to any man able to go into places like Victoria’s Secret alone. It was the first time in my life I’d summoned the courage to walk into such a place by myself and three strides in my palms are clammy.

I am trying to pick out the right size robe when a sales woman in her early twenties wearing an outfit so tight a coat of paint would’ve given her more room comes over to me. Her belly is showing and the front of her pants are cut so low I regroup and, for some odd reason, stare directly at her forehead. It quickly becomes clear to me that she has taken classes in perky or maybe she’s just downed a dozen perky pills because she is loaded with energy. “Can I help you, sir?” she says, her voice so bubbly I’m afraid she’ll make little popping sounds. “I know we have all kinds of lovely things you’d like” and for the life of me I can’t believe she just said that.

I say, “No, this is fine, thank you. This robe here would be fine.” And I remove the robe from the rack and hand it to her.

I’m not off the hook yet. She says, “We have many undergarments that would look just lovely with this, very sexy. Can I show you some?” Where does she get the courage to talk like this, I wonder, as both my armpits simultaneously spring a leak.

I say, “Oh, no, thank you. She has all kinds of things, the robe would be fine.”

She says, “Would you like me to gift wrap it for you?” I tell her yes please, and thank her. Well, maybe it’s just me but if there is a gift wrapping race held somewhere in this country this lovely young lady would come in last. So I’m stuck. I can’t leave without the pink robe. For what seems like days I stare at a display of lotion and shampoo and conditioner. It is the only safe place to look. Finally she is done and I pay, thank her, and flee.

There have been less than a handful of times when a woman I was with has seen a lingerie section and said, “Oh come on, lets go look. Show me what you like.” Is she nuts? Show her what I’d like? You mean walk over to a, what, a shelf or something, a rack (pardon me for the use of the word rack) and lift up some garment so wanting in fabric it’s lucky if it can cover a crumb and say, “You’d look great in this, dear”? So I try to beg off and she says, “But how will I know what you’ll like?”

I’m ready for this question. I’m no dope. I say, “You’d look beautiful in anything.” Then, like an idiot, I push my luck. “Why don’t I wait outside down by the book store, and you can surprise me.”

She says, “Now honey. I go with you when you buy your clothes. You don’t see me run away and hide.” She says this to me while we are standing in the lingerie section. Fortunately, she says this in a whisper that successfully prevents anyone from hearing who is standing more than 100 yards away.

Now there is something called Beano on the market. An anti-flatulence over-the-counter pill. I’d like to know what sadistic little shit (bad word choice given the subject) decided on the name Beano. Well let me make the following declaration here and now. There is no power on earth that could get me to walk in and buy a bottle of Beano. Call it an ample supply of prescience on my part but I know exactly what would happen. I’d get to the checkout counter with the bottle of Beano and about 15 to 20 things I didn’t need in the hopes the Beano bottle would blend in and be less noticeable. The cashier would pick up the bottle of Beano, gaze at it intently for a moment, reach for the microphone and, over the store’s loudspeaker say, “Price check on Beano, aisle four, price check on Beano, aisle four.”