Walking in the mall one evening I came across my friend Pete, sprawled out in one of those big black massage chairs and looking completely spent. “Are you okay, Pete?” I asked.

“Christmas shopping,” he said, but there were no packages in sight so I asked him about that.

“Oh, I bought gifts for about 20 family members in a couple of hours yesterday, no problem.  I’ve been here all day hopelessly shopping for my wife’s present.  I thought it was going to be easy but, as they say, ‘the devil’s in the details.’

“I’d asked her what she wanted for Christmas and she said, ‘I really need a sweater.’  She has 32 sweaters.  I counted them before I left this morning. Still, I was happy with her choice. There are probably 6,000 sweaters on racks and tables in this mall.  I thought it would be an easy task and maybe I’d buy two.

“But then she added, ‘I don’t don’t want a cardigan. I want a pullover.’ Okay, I’m down to about 3,000 picks, still no problem. “And I just  love cashmere,’ she said. I figured on  500 or so  cashmere pullovers and it was still a reasonable spec, but then she mentioned  dolman sleeves.  Did you know there are 45 types of sleeves?  I looked it up on Google.

” She was far from finished. ‘By the way I don’t like V-necks, I prefer mock turtle.’  she said and  I really began to worry when she got into colors, ruling out practically everything in the rainbow and ending with . ‘I want a  blue sweater.’

“Okay, I thought, I’ll just ask to see blue pullover cashmeres with mock turtle collars and dolman sleeves.  Every store must have a dozen or so, but then she added a footnote. ‘ It should be a certain delicate pale blue,’she said, ‘like the morning sky in the east a few minutes before sunrise. Can you picture that?’ “

“So there I was, after seven futile hours of searching,  walking into a place called  ‘The Knit-Pickers Shoppe’, a pricey botique.  and telling yet another saleslady I’d like to see pale sky blue cashmere pullovers with mock turtle collars and dolman sleeves. I was surprised to see she wasn’t fazed like all the others who’d sent me packing.

” ‘What size?’ she asked.  Rats! I had no idea, ‘Just normal,’ I blurted out. ‘Do you think she’d wear my size?’ she asked, trying to be helpful.This saleslady was generously proportioned.  I’d say quite close to a heavyweight contender. 

” ‘Oh my goodness, no. About half your size,’ I  replied and immediately bit my tongue.  I could tell she took  this personally. 

” ‘We can’t help you,’ she sniffed.   I was desperate and asked to see the manager, but she replied that she was the manager and said I should leave. I refused and there was an argument that got very loud.  Well, who would have thought that an upscale  ladieswear shop in this day and age would have a bouncer?  He tore my hoodie, my New York Mets hoodie!  By the way that’s what I’m getting my wife for Christmas, even if it doesn’t come in pale blue.”

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