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Shopping with E.D.

September 19th, 2007


I recently got my hands on a crisp new Chrysler Sebring convertible for a week and there is nothing like a ‘ragtop’ to put the spin on summer. Alas, my schedule kept me out of town away from the joyride-mobile until the weekend, when a slew of errands nixed the idea a backroad run or a lazy ride to the beach.

I’ve always liked convertibles. Big sky, fresh air and an on-holiday attitude every time the top is down is all right by me. And although I’ve owned a couple of them over the years, I still get a rush every time an opportunity to spend time in a convertible surfaces.

After taking care of a few of wife Lisa’s, ‘honey-do’ tasks, the remaining big-ticket items on my Saturday errand run boiled down to a haircut and something I really have to be in the mood forâ¦. clothes shopping.

If an item of clothing hits the spot, I might purchase a few identical outfits saving the hassle of wondering what to wear every day. Simple enough, although I understand how the ‘Garry uniform’ might wear thin on family members.

But hey, I clothe myself in plenty of different vehicles so my road wardrobe should make up for the Chairman Mao-like clothes closet.

Obviously I needed an advisor for the pesky shirt-shopping spree and immediately considered my octogenarian mother, Edith. E.D. would be game for a convertible ride where she could relive the trip she made to Louisiana in 1958 with Bibi and Tex, her sister and brother-in-law. They drove from Montreal to New Orleans and back with the top down on Tex’s new black Ford Fairlane convertible with a T-Bird engine and a set of Hollywood mufflers. Mum returned triumphant with a stuffed alligator and a rubber ‘shrunken head’ that hung around the Sowerby clan for years.

Besides, shopping with mum would make me feel like a kid again, with the exception that I could get something I wouldn’t have to grow into. No brainer for her. Ride around in a flashy red convertible, go shopping with her boy and maybe even con him into ferrying her around on a couple of her own errands.

It’s a rainy Saturday afternoon when I pull into the garage at Edith’s place. She gets a kick out of watching the top disappear into the trunk and when I threaten to drive out into the rain, the mission gets off to a giddy start.

“There is a big sale at Dugger’s, so we should go there.” Mum starts with her favourite four-letter word, one that once put a closet-full of shirts adorned with tacky gold lions on the backs of twin Larry and I for half a school year.

“No lion shirts, Mum.” Back then, the fact that the item was on sale could easily outweigh aesthetic consideration.

At Dugger’s Menswear, one of my favourite clothing stores, Edith migrated to the sale tables while I gravitated to the back of the store and got mesmerized by the $200 shirts. Mum came over and agreed they were beautiful, but her body language suggested if I ever bought a $200 ‘plus tax’ shirt, she might disown me.

We left Dugger’s without my dream shirt and motored to the mall. It was pouring rain and I began to think the only topless motoring we might get in would be back at Mum’s garage.

Edith hit the mall running, unearthing racks of sale items in places I never knew existed. I relinquished control of the situation. My vision blurred as I suppressed yawns and fantasized about the open road in the Sebring escaping the anxiety of shirt shopping.

I knew Mum was going to score, especially when she spotted a sign implying that the 25% off shirts on the clearance rack were offered at an additional 40% reduction. She suggested a royal blue long-sleeved unit with a logo on the pocket that said ‘Gant’.

“But I don’t like shirts with logos on them. They remind me of raised white-lettered tires. And Lisa hates them too.” I didn’t really like where this was headed.

“She’ll never notice, and the blue matches your eyes.” She was persuasive and my haircut appointment was looming. I didn’t even try it on.

When I pulled out my wallet, Mum insisted she pay, whipped out a points card then a triple-bonus coupon. It was over in a nanosecond.

“I’m points crazy. You can just pay me, or I can give it to you for your birthday.” Obviously it was about points, not money.

After my haircut, mum told me I looked much better and that my new shirt will make me look like an RCMP officer. I don’t know why, but whenever she thinks I look good she brings in the Mounties.

We exit the mall, new shirt in hand, ears nicely lowered. Mum asks to stop at the grocery store. “Yes, Mummy.” We laugh hysterically and I put the top down. The rain has stopped.

We took the long way back, rubbernecked around town down a few canopied side streets. Everything was still wet and the spray was flying. We laughed and talked about her Louisiana trip. A holiday on wheels it was. Errands wrapped, the sky on the clear, and a shirt in the backseat I was not exactly sold on.

I kissed my sweet mother goodbye and went home to run the logoed shirt by my wife. No one was there so I tried it on. Too small. I looked like Jethro, the marginal son on the Beverley Hillbillies television show.

I grabbed the phone, dreaming about the Dugger’s shirt that would soon be mine. “Hey the weather will be sunny tomorrow, Mum. How about going out in the Sebring convertible again?” I had to bite my tongue to keep a straight face.

“And bring your points card, you’re about to lose some.”

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