The future came quite quickly. I presumed, very accurately, that since her Dad
was visiting us and occupying the spare bedroom, she likely hadn’t had time to lay out her new clothes for the purpose of matching them up with current outfits (all married men recognize this silly ritual.) Later that night after dinner and while she was talking to her Dad before bedtime, I snuck into the spare bedroom, found the Ann Taylor Loft booty, and using a pair of scissors, snipped a small hole in the armpit of one grey sweater. Taking a pen and paper from the bedside table, I made note of the size, color and style of the item and returned the sweater along with the other items to their previous hiding spot.
Saturday with my morning coffee, I continued my reconnaissance work. I Googled all the nearby Ann Taylor Loft locations. Rutt-ro, Shaggy!
There sure were a lot
of locations. Of the numerous locations somewhat near our home in Alexandria, VA, roughly twelve qualified as “local”, as in ones which wouldn’t be too far for my wife to travel to in order to perform some type of shopping for an elusive but much sought-after grey sweater. I then called these twelve stores later that morning, and asked if they had the specific item in question. Lucky for me, it was a popular sale item, and many stores did not have it in stock. Five of the locations did have one (or more) of said item. I asked them to hold them under my first name through the weekend.
On Sunday I was working a baseball doubleheader in Alexandria. Prior to the games, I visited the Ann Taylor Loft stores at Landmark Mall, Old Town and Clarendon. The second game ended early due to darkness, and I sped off to complete my missions with visits to the stores in Georgetown and Pentagon Row. In true Grinch-who-stole-Christmas
manner, I bought up the entire local supply of Ann Taylor Loft grey Petites XSP sweaters. I bought up the entire local supply, that is, except from the store in Reston, VA.
It just so happens that my friend Big Pete lives in Reston, VA. Big Pete has the DirecTV SportsPack programming. Big Pete also has a brand-spanking new 60-inch High Definition TV.
Big Pete is my friend.
I emailed Big Pete. CSTV? Check. Me at your place 4:00pm Saturday with beer offering? Check. Like I said, Steps 1 & 2...very easy.
On to Step 3. There were some tenuous moments early that next week, as I made almost daily calls
to the nearly dozen area Ann Taylor Loft stores to verify any possible incoming shipments for the grey sweater, returns/exchanges and the like. By Tuesday evening, my wife had fully consumed the bait. After dinner, again with much chagrin, she asked if, by chance, my errands and travels during the week might take me out to the Reston area.
I responded in a manner as guilt-inducing as possible, “Well, not really…though I guess I could swing out there Saturday afternoon...maybe I'll stop by Big Pete’s place while I’m in the area.” This was a calculated risk
, as I wagered that the last thing my wife wanted to do after a full work-week was to spend two hours driving to and from Reston. I calculated correctly. Likewise, my wife knew I probably didn’t want to make such a drive on the weekend, and opted to not disclose the full details of her inquisition at that point in time.
As expected, the next day I got an email from her detailing the injustice of her having purchased a damaged Ann Taylor Loft grey Petites XSP sweater, and the further inhumanity that none of the multitudinous locations had any in stock. Except the Reston store, that is. Then in a continued shower of gratitude, she begged me to “please, please, please!” make this special trip for her.
I “hesitantly” agreed to fulfill her request, again with attempts to incite as much guilt on her part as possible. Later in the week she made several feeble forays to release me from my task
, revealing new information that the exchange might not be as straightforward as one would expect, since there were to be some price adjustments, sale percentage considerations and other flim-flam. Yet again I submitted to agreeing to perform the onerous task, sprinkling in such phrases as “due to my undying love and devotion
” and “for better or for worse.” The kudos in my account were quickly accumulating.
Saturday afternoon, I collected the now-infamous Ann Taylor Loft grey Petites XSP sweater, a stack of receipts, and performed one final walkthrough of my instructions
. I walked out amidst yet another shower of kisses and thank-yous. By the time I reached the Beltway
, I was as giddy as a high school senior with a six-pack on prom night. Giddy, that was, until I realized that the beer offering
I’d planned for my visit to Big Pete’s was still back in our refrigerator. This was only a small hiccup in the soon-to-be successful completion of my masterful plan.
The exchange at the Ann Taylor Loft was quick and painless, and I had enough time buffered in to make a stop at the grocery store for some beer
. I managed to arrive at Big Pete’s with a few minutes to spare before the 4pm kickoff. Later that evening I called Val to check in, and let her know that the new grey sweater had successfully been procured. Not being one to stop a good thing from getting even better, I told her that the exchange was a nightmare, and that I had to return to the store at halftime to speak with the store manager and finish the exchange, thereby missing a good portion of the football game’s second half (I lied.) And despite not arriving home until close to 1am, the following day the kudos parade continued.
There’s an old saying that ‘Honesty is the best policy’. Personally, I prefer, ‘Never let marriage stand in the way of a good football game…or a good story.’God, Country, Notre Dame.