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Recently, during an apparent stage of oblivion, I agreed to accompany my wife on an overnight shopping mission. The itinerary included a stop at a Rochester area mall on the way, something of a pre-shop stop, if you will.

On the road, there was not much conversation because my price-conscious passenger was much too involved snipping, sorting and re-sorting a collection of coupons. I would soon learn the significance of this cut-out currency.

An hour or so down the Thruway, we pulled into our hotel. I found the parking to be as difficult as it gets at Wegmans when there is a forecast of snow. Inside, the hotel was alive with excited guests occupying the lobby and bar area. The mood was festive. There is no way these ladies are going to be able to sleep, I thought. They are like children on Christmas Eve. I slept like a baby.

Off to an early start the next morning, we came upon a sea of stores right smack dab in the middle of farmers’ fields. There was an instant change in scenery from rural to retail.

Once parked, we proceeded to a service desk in front of which was a line of women that rivaled the line to the ladies’ room at an Octoberfest. I innocently asked my wife why so many people were standing in line and she responded that they were lining up for coupon books. I asked, admittedly in a loud voice, if that was really necessary. The looks I received from the shopping sorority in earshot were quite humbling. Now I know how my wife felt when I took her to her first Bills game and she asked what a first down was, invoking the scorn of most fans in our row.

Into the fray, I noticed the expression on my wife’s face had changed. It was the same look she gets whenever she picks up a vacuum cleaner. I knew enough to stay out of her way. Unfortunately I was not able to do the same for the other participants in this fashion free-for-all I had been thrust into.

Out of rhythm, I soon found myself in harm’s way. In a ridiculously narrow aisle, I turned to avoid a woman carrying a purse the size of a mailbag and, in doing so, knocked over a display placard. Fortunately, my wife did not witness the act. However, another woman saw the whole thing and gave me the look of disgust my wife would have given me. My gosh, I thought, they’re all in cahoots!

There must have been a hundred stores in that field, each with its own coupon deal. In one of them, I lost my wife in a labyrinth of aisles and asked one of the sales clerks (a grandmotherly looking woman) if there was a husband’s lost and found. Obviously disgusted, she pointed to an old chair in the corner and told me to sit there and behave until my wife found me. In my 50s and there I was in the “time out” corner!

The rest of the trip featured countless runs to the car to deposit bags, more stops at stores and a number of refusals when I wanted to buy something for which we did not have a coupon. By day’s end, I was shopped out. My wife took pity on me and agreed to head for home.

In the car, she thanked me for a wonderful weekend. I acknowledged her thanks with a smile and drifted off to thought on how I was going to effectively defend my limited closet space. At least we had some time together. However, next year, I will probably encourage her to seek out her own species when it comes to malling.