… I was invited to one of these cosy summer markets, this one a charity fair in support of some local womens shelters. The idea was to raise money from the stalls, a tombola and then get the attendees to bring some spare toiletries to be distributed across the shelters. It all sounded very positive and I promised to come and to bring some toiletries like everyone else.
All happy I went to the bathroom. But to my horror it turned out I had some roll-on deodorant, an aftershave also suitable to pour in cocktails and a stack of toilet paper – most of it unused. Already late and it was time to panic! I jumped in the car and drove at crazy speed to a nearby Spanish supermarket and rushed to the womens smell-good aisle, a territory yet unexplored … what a shock! For men theres a small shelve with 2 deodorants, a shampoo and a couple of razors to choose from … the womens isle is 600metres long and full to the brim with millions of creams, sprays, accessories and odd things I couldn’t possibly identify.
I stood there. Sweat pouring out, looking baffled and scared. The friendly and rather nice smelling shop assistant came over:
– Can I help you?
– Uhm I dont know, I need to buy some things for women
– For women? (she waved at her millions of products, gave me a funny look and wandered off)
I started at one end. Soon realizing that in the womens world everything is upside down – the less you get, the more you pay – the more subtle the hint, the better. Tiny little squeezy bottles without any indication of what they might do costs an average monthly wage, 5litres of clearly marked shampoo is largely given away.
It was a dilemma, I didn´t wanna buy pure crap, but equally I didnt have the faintest idea if the squeezy things were full of much needed heavenly cream or bacon wrapped chili sauce. I opted for variety and started filling the trolley with a random selection of small, medium and large bottles of this and that. I grabbed a small tube and tried to determine what it was.
– It is a cream against wrinkles! Does your wifes skin need help against wrinkles?
– Ehm, I dont know. I mean. Not really. I´ll take it….
– If the problems are bad enough to need that one, you will also need this cream to revitalize and keep it healthy in the sun
– I see … yeah, thats cool then, so I need two little ones … hmmm
– Yes but you might also be interested in this! (From the label it seemed to be some form of face mask and I kind of fancied the kinky turn the discussion had taken, but equally, just slightly inappropriate for the purpose)
– Ahhh, no thanks, I think I will stick to toiletries (I got some dirty looks and she walked off)
I was left to it, propped up the trolley with some bigger bottles and a few accessories I recognized from womens bathrooms, when noticing the shop assistant standing there monitoring my shopping spree with another official looking type. He came over:
– Hello Sir, Are you going to buy these things?
– Yes, that is the plan
– I must tell you we spend a lot of time stocking the shelves. Please do not just put things in your trolley for fun.
– Ehm no sorry, I mean. I’m not. They’re in my trolley because I am going to buy them
– You have several ladies shampoos in different brands, please dont make fun of us if you are not going to buy them. Please put them back.
– But I am. I am. I will buy them, I promise.
– You have at least 3 different creams for dry skin, a lady should stay with just one brand (the shop assistant felt the urge to join in)
– Yeah thats ok, they are for several different women …
The shop assistant looked at me in disgust, then back at the manager … and then they both turned around and walked off. I thought i´d seize the moment and make a run for it before they came back with a bouncer. They probably could have sold me twice as much with a little positive guidance, but at least I made it out with a small selection of treasured toiletries and avoided looking bad by turning up without any.
A warning to all men though: Approach the womens isles with the biggest caution, they may smell nice and look appealing, but when you’re trapped in there on your own with nowhere to run – you’re nothing but a boy in a womans world! (…and im sure the poor recipients opened the toiletries and went: WTF Olive oil, wort cream and anti flea spray for cats !?!?!?)