So I walked into a business last week with my wife and immediately felt out of place. I guess it was sort of a sexist response, but I would have expected to feel that way at other locations where I’ve accompanied my wife.
No, it wasn’t the women’s intimate apparel section of Victoria’s Secret.
No, it wasn’t waiting in the lobby of an OB/GYN doctor’s office.
No, it wasn’t shopping for cutesy holiday nick-nacks at Hobby Lobby.
No, it wasn’t waiting at the cosmetics counter at Dillard’s.
It was — wait for it — the fabric store.
There were two other men in the store when I was there, both looking as out of place as I’m sure I looked.
I tried to be helpful, looking through the hundreds of bolts for the kind of fabric my wife wanted for a banner she is making for our grandchildren. I actually found several options, one of which she liked, along with helping select the perfect color of thread for the project and some fringe.
I’ve gone to fabric stores before looking for specific types of fabric or accessories for one of my projects. For example, I found netting for a mini soccer goal that I made out of PVC pipe for our granddaughter a few years ago. I’ve purchased fabric for some vehicle-related projects as well.
But in those episodes, I went in looking for a specific thing, found it, then hurried out without wandering through the aisles of fabric and other sewing accoutrements and also avoiding eye contact with the women there.
Appearing as if I was actually shopping at a fabric store last week was what I guess made me feel that I was outside of my “guy zone.” I know — it’s probably a sexist attitude.
I actually did know a guy who did sewing professionally. He worked in a hot air balloon repair shop, operating a heavy-duty, industrial strength sewing machine that could stitch giant panels of nylon rip-stop or Dacron taffeta together. He later went to work sewing giant swaths of canvas together to create parts of cargo containers that are stashed in the belly of commercial aircraft. He was very good at what he did.
But I’m almost certain he never had to experience walking down aisles of fabric with women peering at him wondering why the heck he was in a fabric store that was clearly out of his domain.
I think I have to go back to the fabric store this week. We forgot to pick up some braided rope to hang the banners. I’ll try to adopt a manly and purposeful look while avoiding eye contact when I go back. Wish me luck.