Right near the top of my list of phrases I hate is "I'm really easy to shop for". You know how some people can't wrap their minds around directions or algebra. Ok, for me, it's gift giving. I was all set this year for Kathy's birthday. And then disaster happened.

Dave Benson/TSM

I had gotten her tickets for a Phil Collins cover band/impersonator. Kathy loves Phil Collins. Phil isn't touring. I did good. This would do.  And it did. Until two days before the show. I got an email saying the show was cancelled. Tickets refunded; probably didn't sell enough of them.

After I stopped sobbing uncontrollably, I asked Kathy, what she'd like instead. Then she uttered the magic words. I'm really easy to shop for" I actually recovered from that body blow. I came back with "for instance????" She asked, "do I wear jewelry? Do i use smell goods? Do I need a new car?" (That last one I made up, but you get the idea.)

So Saturday morning, I got ready with a hearty breakfast to keep my energy up, in case this would take more than 10 minutes. I then set out for Portage, navigating through the strike stalled construction conflagration. I had three options. If I wanted jewelry, there were three jewelers I been to before. If it was smell goods it was either Macy's or Victoria's Secret at the mall, or Ulta. The smell good I was looking for something Chanel Coco. I thought the name was weird, because I always thought it was Coco Chanel, not the other way around.

So rather than deal with mall, Ulta was right there on my right. I found a parking spot and walked in with trepidation. Many, many trepidations. I got in the front door. No alarms went off. I was off to a good start. Someone from the cash registers asked if I could be helped. I was way beyond help, but I said yes. Please. Had anyone there heard of Chanel Coco? I think they stifled a laugh. Of course, dummy. Every woman know Chanel Coco. Only a man wouldn't know that.

Yes, its over there. This young woman will help you. The woman walked me to the middle of the store, opened the five locks on the security case and said I had two options. Options???? Nooooo. Options are things like IPA vs. Stout.

As my friend Sam, who's been married forever says, "pull your big boy pants up."

Ok, what do I have to choose. "You can buy a bottle or you can buy a refillable bottle. One is cheaper than the other."  Well, I'm "Mr. Ecology. Wrap it up". I was ready to cash out, until she told me. "we dont' refill. You'll have to go to Macy's probaby." You never see the bullet that's got you name on it.. You mean I have to go the Mall???

Dave Benson/TSM

Checkout was pretty simple. A mother and teenage daughter look at me with admiration, like some sort of hero, a guy who actually ventured into a store like Ulta.

By now you figured it out. I survived and an even prospered, as Kathy loved her Chanel Coco and smell great. Happy Birthday, Baby.