Friday Fun with Jim Williamson

Shopping for Valentine's Day can require a translator and a helmet.

Hi. It’s Friday. It’s a beautiful day, and our office is closed. So I’m going to turn things over to your friend and mine, Mr. Jim WilliamsonHello and happy Friday, people. I just returned from LA. I went there to view the new collections from Osborne & Little. They’re really great, but more about those later. Since I am still under a press embargo until the 17th, let’s talk about air travel and then some Valentine’s Day.

So here is how the return trip went down: No upgrade in a beyond packed plane. My luggage was somewhere many rows behind me, which meant exiting the plane was just dreamy. I was seated in what must be the world’s smallest exit-row seat.  If I were one inch taller, the exit row would have been behind me. And I am convinced the child throwing a tantrum next to me (which, strangely, sounded exactly like the couple I heard having a meltdown outside of my hotel the night before) has somehow synced his scheduled with mine and books the seat closest to me on every flight. It is during these trying times that I wish I were Nancy Rogers.

Why, you may ask, did I travel to LA to view a collection that is designed and based out of the UK? Have you seen the weather in the UK? Historic flooding and no sun for four months. Even the British want out.  But I like LA, so just give me a reason to go. Viewing some great new collections and learning about the romantic inspiration behind each piece is just a bonus.

Less romantic? Shopping for a Valentine’s Day gift for Mr. Honey.
After my meeting, I had a small window of free time so I decided to walk to the strip. As I walked past one shop I saw some really cool t-shirts in the window, so I decided to stop in. In true LA fashion, I was greeted immediately. You will almost certainly not receive the same attention in NYC. Not to say NYC isn’t friendly—I think think perhaps the NYC stores do a lot more volume, so maybe saying “hello” that many times is very taxing on New Yorkers. Anyway, I asked about the t-shirts, and the salesperson replied with, “Can I help you with some jeans?”

I thought perhaps my Southern accent had thrown him. I repeated myself.  “So you want to look at some jeans,” he replied again. After some more back and forth about t-shirts and jeans, he walked up a flight of stairs. I heard a brief conversation go down in French.  He returned with a friend—possibly the owner.  I again asked about the t-shirts, and again I was answered with an offer to try on jeans. Finally, I demanded to know why no one wanted me to talk about the t-shirts. “Oh, those shirts are not available,” the new man told me. I asked if they were sold out, but no. I was told: “I think maybe they will be here in March sometime.” I politely excused myself before he tried to offer me jeans as a consolation.

I visited another store that looked cute and was again warmly greeted, this time by a nice girl. Just as she was telling me about the great sales items she had, a ver large shelving display crashed down a few inches from our faces and landed at our feet. We both nervously laughed, and then I quickly said, ” I think that must be a sign that I am not supposed to be here.”  She laughed and I left.

When I got to the third store, I cut to the chase: “I need a gift, and I need an extra-large.What can you show me?” The lady was, like, “This is LA. We carry, like, maybe one or two extra-large sizes in the entire store. ” I asked her to find whatever that might actually be, and she came back with a great looking shirt. Unfortunately, it was just a regular large. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I bought it.

When I returned home, I was greeted by Max and a Valentine’s gift from the “children,” which consisted of my favorite chocolate from Chocolate Secrets and some beautiful cookies a co-worker made. So I decided to present Max with his gift. He was very excited to open it, and he loved it! He wanted to try it on immediately. A few minutes later, Max yelled, “Honey, can you some look at this shirt?” Apparently this line of clothing is made for people in LA who are pursuing acting careers and limited to 800 calories a day. All that effort, and it didn’t fit. Curses. Foiled again

So what’s the point of telling you about the Valentine’s gift shopping drama? Just this: Give your guy a break on Valentine’s Day. It’s a totally bogus day that makes single people feel awful, and couples feel pressure to find just the right gift. Obviously, trying to find the perfect gift isn’t easy. So if you receive something today—whatever it may be—remember it is the thought and effort behind the gift that really shows how much someone loves you, not the actual gift. But Max, if you are reading this, the day for us is all about the gift. Just kidding. (Sort of. See how Valentine’s just brings out the worst in us?)

So from one frustrated shopper to another, please have a very happy Valentine’s Day. And remember: It’s Friday!