Today... I am truly a man.
I came, I saw, I conquered.
Despite the slings and arrows I faced.
Despite the onslaught of adversity and the odds stacked against me.
I did it.
I returned an item to a lingerie store.
Here's how it happened. Several days back, my dear wife, entering *another* long stretch of nursing shifts, gives me a bag, and asks if I could return the merchandise to the store for her.
"Sure", says I.
Oh, wait, it's a.... bra. It wasn't purchased at Wal-mart or anywhere like that either. It was from an honest-to-goodness lingerie store. Great.
Flash forward to today. Off I march, with my compatriots. Specifically, my five-year-old son and his three-year-old little buddy. Taking turns riding in the stroller that looks like a race car, thanks to the shopping mall.
I'm all ready. Item still in the bag. Still has all its tags. Have the receipt and everything. I'm golden.
I enter the store and immediately approach the counter. I get a little rattled for a second. I thought that lingerie store employees were supposed to be: (a) smokingly hot, or at least (b) friendly. Sadly, this lady was neither. I turn on the charm anyway. Produce the bag, give her the spiel, hand it over to her.
She looks things over.
She says, "I can't take this back. You're missing something."
"You're missing the bra card."
"Sorry, the *what*??"
"The bra card. When someone buys a bra, they get their card stamped. I can't take this back without the card."
A lesser husband, out of his element, might slink away with his tail between his legs, having lost a battle due to not knowing all the rules before engaging his opponent. (Not to mention being distracted by the two little boys who are a little too taken with the metallic mannequin wearing skimpy stretch panties... "Boys! Boys! Don't tug on those!")
Not me though, baby. I hang tough.
I ask if there isn't some way that we can process the return anyway. She thinks not. I rephrase the same question. And stay there. She says, "Well, I guess we can ask the manager."
Which apparently are magic words, because instantly the manager appears. I suspect she was laying in wait. Remember how the first lady was no great shakes in either the 'attractive' or 'friendly' departments? Well, take that lady, kick her down two notches in both categories, and you have the manager.
The first lady fills her in. The manager looks at me, kind of like, "Yeah, well, sucks to be you." She says something to that effect too. And adds, "It's store policy." More than once, in fact. Clearly that phrase has a powerful effect on people.
I suppress my opinion that I do not give a rat's a$ about her godd*mned "bra card" and simply ask, AGAIN, if there is no way that we can just process the return anyway.
A few minutes later, the boys and I leave the store, bra-less. And smiling.
Clearly the force of my personality just overwhelmed them. Either that, or they decided that they might just do *anything* to get me to leave the store. I'm happy either way.
So, the final score for the day stands at:
MANHOOD, 1; LINGERIE STORE, 0.
And please remember, when relating this story to family and friends: the proper adjectives to describe me are "self-confident", "assertive", and "determined".