Monday, April 25, 2011

If the Shoe Doesn't Fit

     A few weeks ago, my husband and I went shopping so he could get some new clothes for a wedding we'd be attending. I knew it was going to be kind of an ordeal going into it, because he wears a 38-36 in pants and really, who makes those? He's also got monkey arms, so trying to find a dress shirt that he doesn't have to settle for just rolling the arms up to hide the fact that they're too short is challenging.

      I was, however, optimistic with regards to my own mad shopping skillz. (Not that I'm a shopaholic or anything, but compared to my husband, I'm an expert.) He was willing to go with me, but not exactly what you'd call enthused. A lot of that can be chalked up to the fact that he is a stereotypical male in this area and just doesn't like anything that's not jeans and a concert t-shirt. A little of that reluctance came from something far weightier, though.

     This was not the first time we've been clothes shopping for him since we've been together and we've talked before about how difficult it is to find him clothes that fit. One of the most visible traits of Marfan's Syndrome is the elongated limbs and overall appearance of being more stretched-out than a normal person. My husband is six-five and maybe one-eighty. He's weighed less than that for longer than he hasn't, though, and at one-fifty or so? I don't know how he managed to clothe himself.

      On a practical level, it's a pain in the ass to find clothes for someone like my husband, because there are so few options available. The Big & Tall section of the stores are literally that - clothes for men who are both BIG and tall. I found not a single pair of pants on those racks that were smaller than a 42-inch waist. Same thing happened with the shirts - they had the right size for his skinny neck, but the sleeves would be inches too short. (Thanks again, monkey arms!)

     Now, as someone who has a 34G chest (that means I have large boobs and a small frame, for those of you not fluent in bra-speak), I know what it's like trying to find clothes to that fit when your frame does not fall under what manufacturers consider normal parameters. So when my husband told me about this particular hurdle, I brushed it off. After all, I'd dealt with this particular inconvenience for years and it has nothing to do with a genetic disorder, so what makes him special in this respect? Turns out, I'm kind of callous for thinking that, because I didn't know.

     I didn't know what it was like for him to have to publicly acknowledge that he's so different and does not blend in at all. When I asked a salesgirl to help me find the correct pants, she just stopped what she was doing and looked at me, bewildered. "Um, we might be able to order some, but we don't keep those in stock," was the response I got. Right, 'cause the tall skinny ones don't need pants like the rest of the world, I get it.

     Whatever, my mad skillz prevailed and I was triumphant in my furious search through the racks of 34-32's. The same scenario unfolded when it was time to purchase a shirt. That, actually, was a little harder for my husband because he had to get measured. I think it's always a little disheartening when he's faced with the numbers that prove he's not like the rest.

     Two and a half hours later, we were on our way to the shoe store to get him new Chucks. Chuck Taylor High Top All-Stars are the only shoes my husband wears. They're always black canvas with white rubber, so as to draw as little attention as possible to his size 16 feet. The exception to this is the one pair of all-black Chucks that he wears to wait tables on Saturdays. Before we'd ever left for the mall that morning, my husband had informed me that we would have to order his shoes online, because they don't carry them in the stores. I didn't listen. I thought I knew better than him, because I'm the shopper of the two of us, so surely that qualified me as being the one who knew best, right?

     As I was marching the pair of us towards the trendy shoe store known for being the place where the tweens go to get their Chucks, my husband reiterated that they wouldn't have his size, we were just going to have to order them online when we got home. Didn't listen, I knew better than him, you're going to see that I'M RIGHT! I walked oh-so-confidently up to the little punkster who was working and asked if he had Chucks in a size 16. He promptly bugged his eyes out and answered in the negative. He managed not to laugh outright at my request, but failed in keeping the smirk off his face.

     I looked around the store a little more, to see if there was anything I liked, before my husband and I left. Once we had, he told me that he'd heard the kid and the other employee whispering to each other and felt their eyes on him. When he turned in their direction, the whispers immediately stopped, but they couldn't avert their eyes quickly enough and he caught them staring at him.

     I mentioned once before that I always know when someone has made a hurtful remark to him about his appearance, because he gets a dejected air about him. That's exactly what happened in this case. It was worse for me this time, because I was the one responsible for it.

     It doesn't matter that I never intended for it to happen like this, that I never thought something as simple as shoe shopping could become such an issue; I should've trusted my husband enough to know that he wasn't just being difficult when he said he didn't want to go to the shoe store. I didn't, because I'm really stubborn and I like to be right.

     I'm learning, slowly and painfully, that being married to a Marfan's sufferer is going to humble me. It has to, so that I can be a better wife and partner for him. I have to learn to trust him on some things, to know that he's not just being difficult or oversensitive. (Is it even possible for someone like him to be oversensitive?) I'm pretty sure there's a lot I still have to learn.

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