Bridget: Do you know what next weekend is? Do you?
Bridget emails me often throughout the day.
Jefferson: Uh, Memorial Day?
Bridget: Yes, yes! And you know what that means, Buttercup?
Jefferson: Bar-be-que? Parades?
Bridget: Yes, yes and sales!! Sales!! We are going shopping!!
Jefferson: We are?
Bridget: Yes, and then you are going to boink me! Boink, boink, boink. It’s been seventy-two days. Seventy two! And that is just too long.
Bridget is my sugar mama.
We met online about a year and a half ago. We got together the day we first passed notes, getting acquainted with some hot steamy sex.
I was her first blonde. She was my first BBW—for the uninitiated, that means “big beautiful woman,” the popular online euphemism for obese gals.
The sex was pretty great. It encouraged us to pursue a continued friendship.
As it turned out, Bridget is smart and funny, dedicated to social justice and—as it happens—a tad obsessed with bargain shopping.
My kids and I are a pet project. She sees children’s clothes go on sale and it pains her—pains her!—if my kids don’t benefit.
Bridget: Have you bought the children any summer clothes?
Jefferson: Well, no . . .
Bridget: Do you want a repeat of last year’s fiasco?
Jefferson: Okay, okay. You win—we will go shopping.
I am a lousy shopper. Bridget never lets me live down examples of my pitiable efforts.
On the first warm weekend day of last June, I told the kids to get ready for an afternoon in the park. Jason and Collie emerged dressed in blue jeans.
“No boys, put on shorts! It’s hot out there.”
“Dad,” Jason said plaintively. “There are no shorts.”
When my ex gave me the boot, I packed a car with my clothes and left. I came back for my books. Otherwise, I abandoned fifteen years of accumulated stuff.
If I needed a ladle, I bought one.
If I needed a twin bed, I bought it.
I went from being a difficult person to shop for at holidays—“you don’t really need to get anything for me, really”—to being the most eager recipient of gifts.
Friends gave me wine glasses, towels, a blender. We joked about establishing a divorce registry.
At the time, it seemed to me that all of the stuff of our marriage should remain with the children's mother at her home.
I would come to realize that the children now had two homes.
They spend equal amounts of time with Mom and Dad. They need to feel that their belongings belong where they lay their heads for the night.
On that warm day that the boys needed shorts to go to the park, I took them shopping.
At the Gap, I spent fifty bucks on two pair of shorts.
Bridget was mortified to hear this.
“Have you never heard of outlet malls?” she shrieked.
So it was that on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, I got a good lesson in outlet shopping.
I took the PATH train to New Jersey. Bridget met me at a parking lot.
“Ah, New Jersey!” I breathed deep.
“That comment is going to cost you one pair of very nice pants, sold at a very reduced rate.” Bridget kissed me.
I gave her tongue a nice long sucking.
I buckled into her car. “Okay. Show me the outlets.”
“Next stop: Jersey Gardens.”
Manhattan is justifiably famous for it’s shopping.
The shoes of SoHo! The diamonds of midtown! The clothes of Madison Avenue!
The chic boutiques no bigger than your closet at home. The grand stores where you can decide if the money you had planned to spend on a new boat might better be spent on earrings.
I’ll tell you one thing these shops all have in common.
They each paid three bucks or so for the roll of Bounty paper towels in the stock room.
No matter what you may hear to the contrary, every Manhattanite suffers from some measure of Suburban Envy.
When they sniff about Wal-Mart’s abominable labor practices, they secretly wonder: does Wal Mart really have granola in bulk? Are there truly aisles upon aisles of sofa beds, snowshoes and Lean Cuisines whose prices don’t make you regret the necessities of sleep, clothing and food?
Oh, Jersey Gardens!
A shopping mall for those raised in shopping malls.
A place where even Old Navy has an outlet store because prices just aren’t low enough at a regular Old Navy.
Bridget took my arm. “First things first: your shoes have got to go.”
“How long have you had them?”
“I dunno . . . a year or two.” I have the habit of wearing black dress shoes everywhere. You walk a lot in the city, and even after a few resoles, mine were the worse for the wear.
At Kenneth Cole, she asked me which I preferred: loafers or laces?
“Laces. But those loafers are nice too.”
“Fine. Get both.”
“But . . .”
At Old Navy, she took my list of the children’s sizes and loaded a cart.
Same at the Gap.
Her credit card was zapped, zapped and zapped again.
“Okay,” I said. “Enough. You have to leave something for the grandparents to do.”
“Grandparents!” she laughed. “Hide these clothes. Let them buy school stuff. I’m taking you to Target.”
“I’ve heard of Target!” I smiled.
Do you know what they have at Target?
Two girl’s shorts for six dollars!
Boys’ socks for two bucks a half dozen!
And paper towels by the gazillion.
Another zap of her card.
We loaded her car.
We had a stop at Ikea. Here, I insisted on spending my own money. I had a project of my own.
The car was full.
She drove me back to Manhattan.
She fed me Jamaican in the Village.
Back at my place, I spread out my loot.
A summer’s worth of children’s clothes.
Enough juice boxes, toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, laundry detergent, hand soap, shampoo, and various sundries, to last me through Labor Day.
“Good job,” Bridget said.
“Yes.” I sat on her lap, facing her. “Nice haul.” I kissed her, licking her neck.
“I know you are bisexual . . . ,” she grinned.
“That’s right. You buy me something, I get sexual.”