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Man Diary: Fitting Room Hell

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Dave Griffith
Dave Griffith

Work restructuring, relationship problems, performance anxiety and dickhead bosses can all add up to super-stress for many men.

Even regular unflattering ‘parenting skills’ reviews from our children, and our partners sometimes loud recitations from the historical database of our past crimes against the relationship can pale into insignificance when compared to the supremely stressful- ‘Fitting Room Hell’.
Sometimes we guys can be quite chuffed with our ability to think up clever schemes to get what we want. But occasional moments of brilliance are no match for the females of our species – they are wired up to do this stuff without thinking.
Many men fall into a trap of their own making by thinking that by accompanying their partner on a clothes shopping trip to the local mall they are going rack up a s**t load of ‘man points’ that they can spend on cool stuff like; guys nights out, forgetting anniversaries and useless electronic gadgets.
What seems an easy road to ‘man point’ riches rapidly descends into a stress laden ‘perfect storm’ of anxiety. It all starts off ok with a quick adjustment to our settings. We set our facial expression to caring and interested, our comments to short positive agreement and set off following submissively a few paces behind. The icing on our super clever man shopping ensemble cake is our ability not to get caught gawping at pretty shop assistants or looking longingly into the distance in the direction of the TV and Audio Department.
We are an unstoppable machine - that is until it is time for our female companion to try things on. Our partner who has optimistically chosen sizes and styles that are not always in sync with physical reality trundles off to the fitting room. At this point we find ourselves alone. As men we are experienced at being in no-win situations, but the lonely vigil outside the fitting rooms is about as demanding as they come.
Why is it that most fitting rooms are right next to the lingerie department? What guy is not going to feel self conscious standing alone amongst racks of women’s bra’s and knickers? If we don’t do anything we look like a creep who is just hanging around the lingerie department. If we start thumbing through racks we look like a creep who is thumbing through racks in the lingerie department.
To alleviate this feeling of everyone looking at us in a less than positive light, we move closer to the fitting rooms entrance in an attempt to indelibly associate ourselves with the fitting rooms and in doing so broadcast to the world that we are not a creep and we are in fact a dutiful partner waiting outside for our other half to emerge.
Unfortunately our cunning plan just shifts us from lonely creep territory to sick creep territory as we feel others reinterpreting our new geographical location as a pathetic attempt to glimpse females changing behind inadequately pulled curtains down the fitting room aisle. Even other males in the same situation who should be showing mutual empathy for our plight start to give menacing looks as if we are trying to eye up ‘their’ girl. It is such a fine line we walk between wanting to be alert if she signals us to give a verdict on something or being accused of perving.
At the same time as we are drowning in awkward self-consciousness outside - inside the fitting room cubicle our partner is being confronted with mirror-induced reality. Her happy mood evaporates as it dawns on her that the sizes she thinks she should fit – do not. Instead of being logical and moving one size up she concludes that the only clothes that are going to fit her in this store are in the ‘oversize’ or maternity wear departments.
Who invented the name ‘Fitting Room’ anyway? In guy logic this means a place where we can try clothes on to see if they fit and we like them. In girl logic it means whatever size I take in there it’s going to fit – because it’s a fitting room- a magical place. 
Our initial elation at her reappearance is short lived and our cheerful loaded up line of “how did they look?” never gets delivered as she storms past uttering things like “I am fat” and “they look hideous”.
Our attempts to placate her have the opposite effect. We have committed the sin of coming between a woman and her righteous rage. Suddenly her focus is on us. We are the reason the clothes didn’t fit. We are the reason she is ‘fat’. We are the reason our family doesn’t go on overseas holidays like our other friends.
Trying to calm her to avoid a ‘scene’ is like pouring petrol on the fire. She storms off and once again everyone in the vicinity is looking at us. Suddenly it dawns on us that the triumvirate of our creepiness is complete. In the eyes of decent society we are not just the creep who hangs around by himself in the lingerie department, or the creep who lurks at the entrance to the ladies fitting rooms. We are also the creep who has upset a lovely lady with obviously unflattering comments about her appearance. All the sins of man have been heaped upon us and we are in Fitting Room Hell!!
Everything is custard and we didn’t even get dished up the obvious man trap of “do you think my butt looks big in this?
Not only have we lost any ‘man points’ for this outing, we have had our entire account cleaned out and have entered the realm of overdraft. A position from which - just like trading banks - we are subjected to unreasonable charges and penalties and have to grovel just to get back to where we started.
So the next time chaps that we have a cunning plan that is a sure ticket to ‘man point’ riches think it through or fitting room hell could be just the beginning of our pain and suffering. Perhaps chose a simpler option of mowing the lawns, taking the vacuum cleaner for a walk or if you are really in love – clean the toilet. These are all safe and steady earners with low potential for emotional volcanic activity.     

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