So we’re standing there, in the queue, fascinated by the fact that the man in front of us is buying three identical jumpers in different sizes.
Is he one of triplets, each a bit fatter than the other? Is he about to embark on a crash diet, but has fallen so deeply in love with his natty new Nordic knit that he’s stocking up in ever-svelter versions?
Or is it that he simply can’t be bothered to find out which size fits him before he leaves the shop?
Me and my bezzie are confident it’s the latter. We diagnose him; clearly he is yet another sufferer of a strange affliction which seems only to strike men and boys. Well, ours, anyway.
Changing Room Avoidance Syndrome, we call it. And we suspect it’s as common as the cold. You often see its sufferers batting off badgering wives and girlfriends in the middle of Debenhams.
“Try it on. Just go in there and try it ON,” their exasperated women are saying, thrusting something on a coathanger into a defiant chest. You exchange weary, knowing glances as the menfolk sulkily snatch tickets from the assistant and disappear behind what to them is the department store equivalent of the Iron Curtain.
It’s not as if they have to run the gamut of a communal changing room. That particular foray into hell seems only to exist for womankind. So what’s their reluctance?
It could be fear - of being chivvied into buying something that might look remotely fashionable. Or of actually having to buy anything at all.
But our expert clinical opinion, based on years of experience (two husbands and a son apiece) is it’s laziness to blame. They just can’t be bothered to get undressed. It’s less faff to them to buy one item in a range of sizes, then get you to take back the ones that don’t fit in your lunch hour.
If you can ever get them into a changing room, by the way, you’ll notice they only ever come out to show you the stuff that’s no good.
The fact that they don’t like said garment, and knew they didn’t the minute you took it from the rails, is written all over their pouty faces. There’s no telling them it’d look ten times better if they stood up straight, either. Really, there isn’t.
And no matter how much a man loves his latest shirt, or jeans, or anything shiny and new, pound to a penny that when he gets it home, he’ll leave it in its bag in the spare room for days.
It can stay there even longer if it’s some little surprise you spied and bought especially for him. You have to nag and nag him into trying it on. “I’ll do it later” becomes “I’ll do it after I’ve had a shower”. Then it turns into “It’s too late now, I’ll do it in the morning.” Come daybreak, when you remind them of their pledge, they suddenly haven’t got the time. And so it goes, until all the pleasure you got from giving has turned worn threadbare.
They don’t feel that frisson of excitement that comes with every new fashion purchase if you’re female.
They would never do what we do; rip it from its hanger and excitedly spend the next half hour trying it on with all the things in our wardrobes we’d imagined it would go with. I even try new pants on.
Then I step over the clothes mountain I’ve created on the bedroom floor and mince victoriously into the living room, where Bloke will be sat making out he’s trying to watch some boring football match or news programme.
I strike a pose (for some reason I always stand with my left wrist and right ankle bent outwards in opposite directions: think Grattans catalogue, circa 1972). And he goes; “Yes, very nice” just to get me out of the way of the screen. Even if it’s pants.