“Mr. AJ, what do you think?”
He looked up from his phone at the yellow dress with multi-coloured stones on the neck line.
“This shade matches my complexion better and I just love how it flows easily without too much drama, simple and elegant!” Mrs. AJ was saying.
She made a half turn and smoothed her hands over her hips, arching her neck to see the back. He opened his mouth and then shut it again, wondering if he was actually expected to give an answer. Truth be told, he couldn’t see how this shade of yellow was different from the last one she’d tried on.
“What do you think?” she asked again, still inspecting herself.
He didn’t mind going shopping with the Mrs (well not too much) as long as he wasn’t expected to know the entire colour spectrum or which style fit which body shape or any of the other weird things women worried about.
“Err…well, I think it’s okay.” He replied.
She paused her inspection to stare at him.
“Just okay?” she asked, arms now akimbo.
“Well…it’s okay…I mean it’s good!” he floundered.
What was he supposed to say, that it wasn’t an okay dress?!
She shook her head at him, giving him her signature look and went back into the changing room.
What did I do now!
“Never ever describe a woman as okay.”
“You’ll never live that mistake down.”
He vaguely recognized the guy who’d spoken to him. He’d seen him around earlier that day at Ikeja City Mall, first at Mango and probably at MRP as well. The guy seemed to be in the same shoes as he was, tagging along with a woman on a shopping spree. Unlike him though, the guy looked unruffled and had the sort of confident poise that could only come from several years of experience.
“But I said it looked good!” Mr. AJ replied defensively and his new friend tsked.
“That’s even worse.” He said, juggling several carrier bags from one hand to the other. “Common rookie mistake.”
“But it was a nice dress!” Mr. AJ spluttered.
“Another forbidden word.” He said with a shake of his head. “I have a twelve year old so I’ve been in this business long enough!”
Mr AJ raised an eyebrow. How can he possibly compare shopping with a twelve year old to shopping with a grown woman!
“As a rule, everything is beautiful or stunning or dashing or amazing.” He said. “Sometimes, they’ll take pretty but that one is a bit dicey. You should read the situation before dishing that one out.”
“If you’re ever caught off guards and can’t think of an appropriate word quick enough, just go for ‘Wow’”
“Trust me on this one.”
“But what if the dress looks hideous on her!”
“Diplomacy, my friend. You think the politicians are the ones with the tough jobs?”
“Rule number two: it’s always the fault of the dress. The colour doesn’t flatter her eyes. Who made that dress, a carpenter? That dress isn’t doing your amazing figure enough justice. Catch my drift?”
“How do you even wrap your head around all that colour shade and style nonsense?!” Mr. AJ asked in exasperation.
“Take it from the man who had to hunt down a Barbie Pink Mac Book Air, you learn!”
Just then, the door to one of the dressing rooms banged open and a girl who could have easily passed for sixteen flounced out, clad in a pair of pencil jeans, a silk shirt and Louboutin’s.
“Daddy, how about this?” she asked, arms on her hips.
“Wow, look at my little Princess! I think it’s perfect!”
“Really?” the girl asked uncertainly. “I’m not so sure of the shirt. I think peach will go better with my new purse.” She said pulling at the shirt at the edges as if that would miraculously change its colour.
“Peach? But this one…”
“I just knew beige would be too far off. I’ll go ask them if they have this style in Peach. If they don’t, we’ll have to go somewhere else.” She said going back into the dressing room.
“Rule number three: sometimes, even saying the right things doesn’t work.” Simon said on a resigned sigh.
“You could say that again!” Mr. AJ replied. “By the way, I’m Mayowa.” He said closing the distance between them and proffering his hand.
“I’m Simon, but everyone calls me SB.” Simon said juggling the shopping bags again to shake his hand.
“SB?” Moyowa asked.
“Oh yeah, my initials. I can’t really remember how it started but at some point, even my little girl called me that.”
“Oh well, SB it is then!” Mayowa said smiling.
“Nice meeting you.” Simon said returning his smile.
“Pleasure’s all mine!”
“Mr. AJ, what of this one?” the Mrs said, coming out of the dressing room again. This time, she was wearing an A-cut midnight blue dress with a high neck which stopped just above the knees.
“Oh wow!” Mayowa gasped. “It’s….wow!”
The Mrs beamed from ear to ear and Simon turned away to hide his smile.