The sales assistant reminded me of Mr Humphries from “Are You Being Served?”
If you’re too young to remember the comedy classic, let’s just say both were confirmed bachelors with immaculate fashion sense, and measuring tapes.
He had ignored me for the best part of half an hour. Not that Mr Humphries was busy. The giant department store was all but empty. Peaceful, except for one pesky customer.
I was searching for a decent shirt. A little number for the races. Anything but green, which we all know is unlucky at the track.
There are plenty sitting on coathangers at home, but few that I can wear a tie with. This is because someone has been sneaking in at night and shrinking my collars. I can’t get them to fit around my ever-expanding neck.
After searching the bargain tables, I found a few that seemed to work. By that I mean they had gigantic neck sizes. I asked if I could try them on. Just to make sure they wouldn’t strangle me. Mr Humphries was having none of it.
He wouldn’t take them out of the plastic. A waste of time. Instead, I was to try on the Sample Shirt. A garment that may or may not have been worn by every rugby front rower in town.
Unlike others in the family, I’m not one to challenge shop staff. Usually, I submit meekly to their demands. But not this time.
Resisting the urge to string him up by his tape measure, I informed Mr Humphries that I REALLY wanted to try this one on. And he would just have to live with it.
It didn’t work. This mature gentleman in perfectly pleated pants called my bluff.
“It won’t fit you,” he said calmly. “You’ve been looking in the wrong area. Those shirts are Slim Fit. It’s your girth, you see. I’d be happy to find you something more suitable.”
Yes, he actually said the word girth. Right there on the shop floor. As if I was being saddled for the last at Eagle Farm.
Any struggle ended right there. A points victory to the man with the name badge.
After trying on his stinky Sample Shirt, which happened to fit perfectly, I followed meekly to the Wall of Width. Together we chose a colour that he liked, and the deal was done.
To his credit, Mr Humphries spotted a tie that was a perfect match for my new purchase. He seemed quite proud of his work. It was like he had done me a favour.
Indeed he had. I ended up with a shirt that I could actually breathe in. And my new routine of sit-ups began the following day.
I won’t be shopping alone again in a hurry. That Men’s Fashion Department is a brutal place. Especially when Mr Humphries is free.