When they explained that the lass I was to meet was a ‘Goth’ I saw blond plaits, thick as your arm, and the pounding hooves of a thousand horsemen. Black lipstick and white complexion was a shock. Mentally this was the equivalent of dropping from second into reverse without dropping the revs. But I managed somehow.
But modern culture can catch me out in all sorts of ways. A year or two back I was driving down across country to Ely, and was on the M6 toll and decided to stop at the services there to get something to eat.
As a walked across the central court, there were two ladies with a stand demonstrating and selling cosmetics. I observed them as a potential obstacle to be avoided, but I haven’t a clue which company they were working and even if you told me the name it wouldn’t mean anything to me. (I’m bad like that; someone was trying to give me directions to get to the hospital in Kendal and started, ‘Well you know where ASDA is?’ I replied ‘No, I’m a male, I don’t do shopping. Where is it from the first river bridge?’)
But anyway I seem to have drifted off the subject. There were these two ladies with their cosmetics stand. I guess they were about ready to pack up and go home, the day’s rush had long gone. Anyway they saw me and converged on me, coming at me from each side of the stall in a pincer movement.
“Excuse me Sir, would you like to look at these.” (Produces something which is probably called a ‘goody bag.’)
I stopped, looked at her and said, “Lass, I don’t think that I’m your target audience.”
She smiled a tired smile at me. (You could tell it had been a long day and she’d almost certainly spent most of it on her feet.) “Ah but you’ll have a wife or girlfriend or daughters who you buy clothes and cosmetics for.”
I’m afraid to say that at this point I was shocked. I was more put out than when the Goth turned out to be some vapid and anaemic Miss with black lipstick and eye shadow. When I got my voice back I merely said;
“Madam, I’ve never bough clothes or cosmetics for my wife or daughters in my life.”
Frankly if I’d pulled holy water from out of my jacket and started spraying them with it I don’t think they could be more shocked. We were speaking at each other in the same language but we weren’t communicating. The cultural gap between us was too wide for mere words to bridge. They fell back together, huddled for mutual support in the face of this walking blasphemy and I made my way to the counter to get something to eat.
But it has to be said that this shocked me. It was their absolute certainty that as a Husband/Father/Boyfriend I would automatically be buying this stuff for the ladies in my life. Had I, by some embarrassing oversight missed out on what was one of my more important duties and everyone in the family was too kind to tell me of my failings. (To be fair, that would be a first, they’re pretty good at telling me of my failings.)
So when I landed back home I mentioned this incident to my Lady wife. She laughed and asked how the rest of the trip had gone. Well that was sort of reassuring.
Anyway oldest daughter made an appearance. So I told her the story and asked whether I should be buying her clothes, cosmetics etc. She patted me on the arm as if calming a puzzled dog and said ‘Jim, you buy me books as presents. You buy me interesting books I’d never think to buy for myself. Stick to what you do best.’
Well that was reassuring. Anyway youngest daughter wandered back from Uni or wherever and I told her the tale and asked her the obvious question.
She pondered it for a number of seconds and then pronounced that she might, under strictly limited circumstances, let me buy her gloves, and perhaps even socks, but should this ever happen I would be furnished with full written instructions as to size, colour, model, location in shop and even the position on the rack. She would also be in the store so I could show her what I’d picked up before I went to pay for it.
So that is me firmly in my place.
And for the record, Goths who don’t come with blonde hair, burning cities and a wave after wave of armoured horsemen are a pretty poor substitute for the real thing. Sorry and all that.
(And sorry to be picky, but someone should have told them that a shield isn’t a fashion accessory, you wear it on your left arm, not strapped to the saddle. I suspect they struggle to get enough properly trained horsemen, even with CGI)