Shopping with the Cowboy

by | May 22, 2024 | Home Life

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Wrinkly Bits

A Blog by Gail Cushman

I’m not a great shopper and since the on-line opportunity has become more convenient and popular, I enjoy it even less. This weekend we had a couple hours, so I mentioned to the Cowboy that I wanted to buy a wedding present and a new pair of slacks. He touched the brim of his hat, “Yes, Ma’am let’s do it,” so off we went.

The wedding present needed to be something strictly and uniquely Montana, but not a side of beef. I wanted something that would show the Native American heritage. He said, “I know just the spot.” 

I said, “Where?” wondering if Dillard’s carried Native American goods. He didn’t answer, and we breezed by Dillard’s. I repeated my request, because obviously he hadn’t heard me, and he answered, “You’ll see.” Oh, great.

The next thing I knew, we were parking in front of a strip mall store. It was between a casino and a cowboy bar and had a couple signs in front. The biggest sign read Bail Bonds followed by Pawn Shop. “Oh, no, Cowboy, not here, not there, we can’t go in just anywhere,” I said in my best “Green Eggs and Ham” rendition, hoping he would get the hint.

He pointed at a third sign: Yellowstone Pawn and Trade, with pictures of hand-made Native American goods, blankets, clothing, pottery, jewelry, trinkets and a slew of other beautiful merchandise. We went in, and amidst the pawn goods and bail bond desk with piles of paper, sat a treasure trove of authentic Native American goods. A hand-woven woolen blanket fit the bill, and I added a set of coffee-cups, autographed by the young woman who designed them. Good job, Cowboy.

We had a leisurely lunch and headed back to the mall. He calls this recreational shopping, but I was on a mission. The Cowboy, not so much. He always gets stuck at the perfume counter with those long-lashed, perfectly finger-nailed perfume salesgirls, who try to sell him perfume at $100/ounce. They aren’t my cup of cologne, so we went our separate ways, I to women’s clothing and the Cowboy, well, those girls smile big when they see him coming. I saw him feel for his wallet and doff his hat, and knew he would busy for quite a while.

My shopping trips are always difficult. Sizes, you know. The sizes are different than they used to be, what used to be a size 4 is now a size 8, a size 8 is now likely to be a 16 but maybe it is a problem with the Metric system. Well, after much testing and tugging, I found slacks that would work. Cowboy and I met up again and I said, “These new pants are black, but I need gray shoes. I need a shoe store.” My mother made me wear black leather oxfords so I would never have trouble with my feet. She was so wrong.

The Cowboy said, “Let’s go to the boot store because now that you live in Montana, you need cowgirl boots.”  I have never had cowgirl boots but I tried them on. No go. My feet aren’t made for boots. 

Back to Dillard’s for dressy shoes where I tried on twenty pair of shoes. High heels: nope. Low heels: nope. Sandals: Love sandals, but not for Montana and this occasion. “I know another place,” Cowboy says. Well, that makes me nervous because he likes Tractor Supply and he saw 5-buckle overshoes displayed on fashionistas last year in Paris.

This store specialized in orthopedic tennis shoes. Are you kidding me?  Orthopedic. The word itself sounds old, sounds like I have hammer toes, fallen arches, and Plantar’s Warts. Feet have 26 bones and 30 joints, and I must admit that now and then all 56 of them hurt. The salesman worked hard to win my confidence but lost it when he said, “These shoes you wore in today are the ugliest I have ever seen,” to which I replied, “You sold these to me last year, Buddy.” 

I began trying shoes on, and they weren’t bad. The clerk brought out another twenty pair of shoes, and surrounded me with boxes of tennis shoes, insisting he had the shoes I wanted. After an hour, he informed me that the store would close in two more hours. I took up most of that time, thanks to his ugly shoe comment, and pretty soon settled on two new pairs of tennis shoes. And another $100 in arch supports. Cowboy breathed a sigh of relief, and our shopping adventure came to an end. 

This week we attended graduations and I wore my tennis shoes with arch supports. I felt a little old, but then I noticed that everyone over the age of 70 wore tennis shoes, too. But the conversation revolved around pickleball, which begs the question: Why aren’t they called pickleball shoes? Just askin’. Before leaving the graduation celebration, my fashion-savvy 15-year-old granddaughter modeled her patent leather combat boots with three-inch Vibram soles which somewhat resembled Tractor Supply’s 5-buckle overshoes. “Don’t you just love these, Grandma?” My eyes got big. I don’t think I’ll ever be fashionable again.

Gail Cushman is a free-lance writer who lives in Columbus, Montana.


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