Shopping. “What do you think?”
“Caroline, you know very well that's a stupid question.”
“I don't see why.”
“I'll write the songs, you do the shopping and spend the money.”
“You're being silly. I'm buying these things for the household. You are part of the household aren't you? Or do you think your nice new home is a hotel, and I'm the maid?”
I sigh. “Yes, I'm part of the household, but you are in charge of the house. You are not a maid. If you want to go down that route, you are the housekeeper, and I know nothing about housekeeping.”
We are in this vast department store. We have stopped to look briefly at ladies' clothes; surprise, surprise. Actually, it is a surprise as we quickly move on. I expected us to get stuck there, like a truck in the mud. I quite thought I'd have to hunt for a chair, and sit there, like some weary traveller going nowhere while waiting for the pick-up truck to come and rescue me from the mud.
Now we are looking at towels. There are rows and rows of the wretched things. Big ones, little ones, some as big as a bathroom. Good grief. There are red ones, white ones, some are lemon yellow with blue stripes across them. They look ghastly. Some are fluffy, some are not. Jeez. “How am I supposed to get interested in all this stuff?”
“Darling, you have to decide what you want in your bathroom.”
“Caroline. Buy me a couple of towels. I need a couple of big fluffy bath towels. Maybe four hand towels. I don't care what colour the big towels are, but the hand towels can be boring white. Okay?”
“What's new?” I notice a chair. It is a large white puffy-looking thing. Great news. I head straight for it. Caroline is discussing drying logistics with a couple of shop assistants. I think we have to do something about this. I will put up with it for today, but I refuse to do this ever again. Heck, I'm supposed to be rich now. There's no need for me to get involved in all this mundane stuff. I suddenly realise I don't ever need to enter another shop. Not ever. Hooray!
“Are you coming?”
Oh yes, the summons. I get up to follow to the next department. “Hold on. Where are the towels?”
I stop, sigh a deeply felt sigh, and watch the business-like departing Caroline. She has such a sexy bottom. I love watching her walking. I'd love to roll her up in a towel and make love to her behind one of the enormous sofas. I giggle.
“What's so funny?” She has noticed I'm not following like the well behaved lad I am supposed to be.
I smile sweetly. “I was just thinking about rolling you up in a towel and...”
“Shut up, and come along.”
“But haven't you bought any towels?”
“You really don't understand anything do you?”
“When it involves girls and shopping, the answer is an emphatic 'No'.”
“I am looking. I know what I want, but I am not buying something here, something there, and lugging it all round the store. There are staff to do that.”
I gesture onwards. “You're in charge. Where to next?”
We wade through department after department until I am semi-comatose. At last we end up in the lingerie department.
“But this is your sort of stuff. I cant decide what underwear you ought to buy.”
“Why not? You take it off and put it on probably more than I do. At least, I'm sure you take it off more than I do.”
The shop assistant standing by a rail grins. We both pretend not to notice.
“I'd rather you surprised me.” I stop the conversation right there by heading for the obligatory rest corner, and slump into the puffy white chair from where I can see half a dozen Carolines reflected in various mirrors.
I close my eyes and try to think sweet thoughts.
The next thing I know someone is hassling me. “Come on.” She is tugging my arm. I must have fallen asleep.
“Would you like a drink?” A smiling assistant is standing next to me.
The request takes me a little by surprise. “A cold dry sherry would be nice,” I mutter. Of course, I'm being facetious, but I'm not prepared for the reply.
“I'm sorry sir, we don't have a dry sherry. Would sweet do?”
I am taken aback. “I... I... um... No. Have you got a tonic water?”
“With ice and lemon?” She really is quite sweet. But what is all this?
“Lemon, no ice.”
She vanishes while I look puzzled.
Caroline is busy directing operations by the desk. Every so often someone turns up with a bundle. Shortly, the sweet little girl is back with my drink on a try which she places on a small table by my chair. I smile a thank-you.
I take a sip and look up. Caroline is standing beside me. “You need to sign for all this.”
I dig into my inside pocket for my wallet.
“You wont need that.”
I look puzzled. “Why not?”
“You don't think you're paying for all this, do you?”
I look even more puzzled.
“Baby boy, you really must grow up. I can see I am going to have a hard time with you.”
I shrug. What is she talking about?
“I know I'm big house and you're gate house as you like to put it, but you've got to stop thinking that way. You are now very big house.”
“And that means I no longer have to pay for things?”
She sighs. “Idiot.” She leans towards me and speaks softly but urgently. “Of course you pay, but not here and not now. Nothing so sordid as mentioning prices. You just sign a form, and then you get an invoice. You sign that as well. Then we leave, and the money gets debited from your account at the end of the month.”
I smile. “Okay, no problem. Sorted. Message received and understood. Take me to the forms.”
“No. Think big house. The forms come to you.” She turns round and smiles in the direction of the waiting flunkey, who comes across with a large form stretched on a pad.
I fill in the boxes, sign the bottom, then try not to freak out when I see the invoice. Instead, I sign that as well, and take a large gulp of my tonic water, and wish it was a very large cold sherry.
She must have been mind reading. “What kind of sherry do you like?”
“They don't sell sherry here as well do they?”
“No, of course they don't, silly. They'll get in a bottle for next time.”
“Yes, darling. You have an account here now. When you come in, you wander in here and sit down, and they'll get you a nice big glass of your favourite sherry while I go and do the shopping.”
I smile cautiously. I suppose I could bring in some paper and a pencil and try and write another hit song while she is browsing among the knickers and bras.
“Although there's no need for you to come in any more if you really don't want to.”
“I think I'd rather buy a bottle of sherry and drink it at home.”
“That's all right darling.”
I frown. A heck of a lot of darlings are floating around. I'm suspicious.
“I can shop on my own from now on.”
“But you need me to sign the invoice.”
She smiles sweetly. “Not necessary.” She starts walking towards what looks like a furniture van's worth of shopping. “I can sign from now on.” Oddly she walks straight past the shopping. It isn't until she is almost out of sight that she turns round. “I thought you hated shops. You're not stopping the night are you?”
I put down the tonic water and follow. “And the shopping?”
“Delivered this afternoon.”
I smile. Of course. Naturally. Silly of me to ask.