“I am so sorry,” I repeated for maybe the fortieth time as Mike and I walked through the automatic doors of a store we both didn’t want to enter.
“No, hon, I’m sorry. I know how you feel about this place,” Mike also repeated. We walked through the store briskly, wasting no time browsing. Ours was a get-in-and-get-out mission.
I hadn’t heard him ask me to get his board shorts out of the drier and throw them in his backpack, and he hadn’t realized I hadn’t heard him. Only once we went to jump in the pool at our friend’s house in the desert did he discover the mishap, and we headed to the only establishment within range at which we might reasonably hope to find board shorts:
In no way do I judge others for needing to save a few dollars on laundry detergent, but I choose not to shop at Walmart because of their labor practices and effects on local economies. They make me feel icky. Yes, I am one of those lunatics who actually believes that withholding my dollars can send a “message” to the big-bad corporate giant. I’m taking my $2.00 elsewhere for my toothpaste. Take that, Walmart.
Row after row of cheap plastic and polyester spread out before us in a glorious display of American consumerism, and I considered, “Am I committing a sin against my personal ethics? I mean, Mike could swim in boxers, right? In front of friends…and a few strangers…that wouldn’t be weird at all. Or wait, if it’s him buying the board shorts, do I have to take ethical responsibility for that purchase? It’s not like I’m paying for them…”
I swallowed a huge lump.
We made a beeline for the menswear department, and picked through the plaid golf shorts, the meshy sport shorts, the endless rows of obscenely colored basketball shorts.
“I’m not finding any,” Mike said.
“You could wear these,” I giggled, holding up a pair of silky camouflage shorts. God alone knew their intended purpose, and Mike shot me a dirty look.
“Maybe we’re missing them. Lemme ask someone,” I offered proactively. Get-in-and-get-out.
Locating a woman sporting a blue smock behind the jewelry counter, I asked about men’s swimwear.
With all the joy of any minimum wage employee working on a national holiday, she shook her head and replied, “We just closed those out.”
“No board shorts? On Labor Day? Not even trunks?” I asked, wincing a little, hoping against hope that Mike wouldn’t have to swim in the yellow Chargers warm-ups. That would not be good for our marriage.
I found my way back to Mike to break the bad news. He held up a pair of tan shorts.
“Look what I found on clearance…”
“No!” I gasped. “They must be the last ones!”
Holding the fleshy-colored material up to the light, he asked, “They aren’t see-through, right?”
“No. I mean, probably not. I don’t think so. Maybe?”
He looked at me.
“Well, you could always buy the shiny camo shorts…”
I don’t know what I felt worse about: purchasing board shorts from Walmart, or being the indirect cause of my husband’s need to buy $7.00 possibly-see-through* swimwear.
I may have sold my soul, but man, that water felt good.
*Don’t worry, they weren’t.
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