At this point, I should stop and explain that her idea of shopping is different than mine. My idea of shopping is to put it off. Her idea. . . well, just thinking about her idea of shopping causes me to drift off into an otherworldly out-of-body experience. Look! There I am below, following my wife around some mall filled with more people than there are in Grand County. I’m following 10 paces behind her, lauding her taste and enthusiastically enforcing her opinion.
It’s mid-afternoon and I’m so laden with purchases that I resemble nothing so much as a Telluride miner’s pack burro. Sensing an imminent buckle, she sends me to the car to unload before starting the evening sprint-it-off. The packages cause the rear springs to settle several inches and I collapse in the front seat for the briefest of respites, anticipating her call wondering where I am.
As I gather my endurance, I gaze in the rear-view mirror over the sea of brightly colored bags emblazoned with rich people’s names in reverse like “s’ycaM” and “mortsdroN”. At that moment I totally understand how they got their wealth. My head slumps to my left shoulder as I stare at the parking lot with a near-death expression, tongue lolling out the corner of my mouth. The lady getting into the car next to me kindly wipes the drool off my cheek and her husband drops his eyes in mute sympathy. He understands.
Suddenly, I snap to, coming back to reality, the parking lot wavers into nothingness and I’m safe and sound in my living room. What has disturbed my reveries? Oh yes, it’s my wife, she’s speaking to me, I must pay attention to her moving lips, concentrate, you fool, concentrate!
She says, “Would you like to spend the day in Denver watching movies?” I stared back incredulously for several moments before deciding, OK, it’s not my wife. It’s an alien. My wife would never speak those words. I leaped into a defensive posture but the creature extended her hands in the universal back-off pose.
“Can the theatrics,” she said. “I’m serious. Pick a day you can go to Denver, drop me off at a mall and you can watch movies till your eyeballs fall out.” I had my doubts but I slowly nodded anyway.
Despite my apprehension, the anointed day arrived and, sure enough, there I was, waving at her dwindling figure on the steps of Park Meadows mall as I blasted off toward more manly pursuits known generically as “wasting time.”
We’d arranged to hook up later at the California Café, one of the mall’s many fine eateries. The place was quiet, just a few tables, decent music playing and, aha, there she is at the bar and I join her. We ordered some crab cakes and chatted for a few moments as I began to up the courage to pop the question.
“What?” she said, sensing my unease. “What’s wrong?”
“Where are all the packages?” I said, looking around nervously.
She shook her head pityingly and said, “Ya’ big silly, this was a products run,” and she moved her coat to show a football-sized package. I squinted to see if it was glowing.
“Oh,” I said. Then I said, “Uh?” These are two of my favorite words, incidentally. I continued in an unsteady voice. “How much did that cost?”
She looked at me and smiled brightly. “Why?” she asked. “Have you become an auditor?” And we went home, me, in wonderment.
The next morning, I stood there in front of the bathroom sink looking down at the soapy, yet non-greasy tasting Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer with Conditioning Soy Extracts that I was brushing my teeth with. I was relieved to see it was clinically proven to reduce visibly tired skin, and that it rejuvenated skin cells without over-drying them, all things I’d never worried about in my morning ritual.
On the other hand, I was hugely bummed out that it came in a container, visibly shaped like the toothpaste container next to it. As I held it in my hand my wife walked in.
Her eyes narrowed until she looked at me like she was a low-down sheriff in a cheap Western. “What’re you doing with my product?”
Jon de Vos lives near Fraser. After graduating from Arizona State University in 1973, he took a one-month job at a ski lodge in Hideaway Park (now Winter Park), intending to head to law school in the fall semester. That was 33 years ago. “Colorado saved my life,” he says.