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Reflections of a Window Shopper

Illustration by Denis Shifrin

In My Fair Lady, Professor Higgins sings a song called, "I'm an Ordinary Man". That's how I see myself. Usually, I do my shopping in our neighborhood shopping-center, but on this particular day I was accompanying my wife to one of Tel Aviv's poshest malls. With little to do until she concluded her "retail therapy," I found myself window shopping at an expensive men's gift store. I didn't go inside because I didn't want to give the owner the false hope that I would buy something – but I did spend a surprisingly long time at the window.

It seems to me that this is the perfect setting for a Rorschach test for men. Every man will react differently to what he sees in the shop window. His reaction will reflect his personality. By the end of this article I think you, dear reader, will know mine quite well.

Let me begin with my reaction to the watches and the pens on display. It took quite a bit of squinting and turning of my head at an odd angle, but I did finally manage to get a look at the prices written on the small white tags. What prices! I am wearing a perfectly good watch which I bought years ago for a tenth of the price of the watches in the window. And I'm writing this article with a perfectly good ballpoint pen, which I don't remember buying at all. Were I to buy the beautiful ebony pen imported from France, which caught my eye, I wouldn't be able to sleep nights, worrying about its whereabouts. At least I would know that the watch was on my wrist.

Near the watches and pens was a shelf of small statuettes for men to display. I noticed three that stood out: The Thinker (by the sculptor Auguste Rodin), a soaring eagle, and hands in prayer. I know that these statuettes are meant to reveal the inner mind of its owner. Unfortunately, and I blame myself, I miss the mark on all three. I like to think as much as the next man, but not all day and not to the exclusion of all other activities. As for soaring like an eagle, I'm more for taking the grandchildren to the park to feed the ducks! And hands in prayer – well, once a week on Shabbat morning feels right to me.

Globes, compasses, barometers and telescopes. Whiskey-flasks, shot-glasses and corkscrews. Cigarette lighters and ashtrays. Trophies. They are all there. But not for me.

I must admit I did find the office board-games intriguing: poker, roulette, -lottery, to name but a few. They looked liked fun. The problem is that they presuppose being with other people. Being retired and a homebody, I see very few other people. The only game suitable for someone like me was darts, and I wouldn't trust my shaky hands throwing those sharp metal objects around the house, Heaven forbid.

There was one item that did catch my fancy. It was a man's grilling apron. The apron was really funny – the picture on it was the shirtless physique of an Arnold Schwarzenegger lookalike. So, if you wore it, you too would look like Arnold Schwarzenegger from the neck down. This apron was displayed on a rack inside the store, and there were other funny aprons behind itthat I could not see from the window. I was curious but, as I've said, I didn't want to give the owner false hopes and, to tell the truth, a man flipping through a rack of aprons – well, it would embarrass me.

A tap on my shoulder from my wife indicated that my window shopping experience was over. On the way to the car park we passed a photo shop and in the window I caught sight of a mug with a photograph of a smiling family superimposed on it. "One minute," I said to my wife. 



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Thursday, 18 July 2024

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