I went to M&S shortly after we’d got home feeling like I’d spent three sleepless days after a weekend tripping on blotters. Sleep deprivation does that to a person, The Surrealists experimented with the phenomena in order to engage with hidden realities, I thought about this as I wandered about an empty M&S like a ghost; it was just after nine a.m., watery shards of spring sunshine picked out fine clouds of dust that swirled over the racks and rails of taciturn slacks and empty blouses. I was trying to find the baby/child area, a zone hitherto unknown to me. I wondered if Max Ernst had ever tried to buy clothes for babies before realising I was being stared-at by two employees, both greying ladies of a certain age and weight. Suddenly feeling like I’d done something wrong I yawned directly at them with the intention of displaying that I was, in fact, a knackered newdad and not some long-haired pervert with a thing for sheepskin slippers.
A short while later I found a load of baby-grows and tiny hats. I’d been ordered by the Sposa to get some vests, so I began to search in and among the tiny apparel for ‘vests’. The shop assistants had followed me to this place, both were pretending to do something but I could feel their pink-eyes burning into the back of my head. I had to confront this head on.
“Look..” I said, almost making myself jump, “where are the vests for babies? Baby vests?” My eyes creaked in their sockets as I searched vacant faces for an answer to my question.
“We don’t have no baby vests, Dear, only the ones that do up underneath.” She glared at me with a turned-down mouth that’d been inaccurately primed with plum-coloured lipstick.
“I don’t know. Where can I get vests from? My wife said we need them.”
“How old is the baby?” Said the other one. Loads of light-blue eyeshadow, should I say something?
“Now. New. Day.” I was shutting down fast, I couldn’t be pissed with any of this I just wanted to go to sleep. The first one turned and grabbed three little packets each containing a white garment. “This is what you need, Dear. Come with me to the till…”
One of her shoes squeaked as she marched off, I could hear the soft swish of polyester sliding over nylon, I followed her talcum powdered atmosphere like I was mechanical, in my mind’s eye I was walking like a playschool robot.
I paid and left in silence. In stark contrast to the bustling streets the melancholy ambience of the M&S shop had had an oddly cathartic effect on me, I drifted home feeling like I’d left something behind whilst being reminded by a voice within that I was, in fact, ‘a dad’ and was returning home to my wife and son. ‘Wife AND son.’ I’d still not got over the whole ‘wife’ thing let alone the ‘son’ part. The whole thing was ridiculous. And I’d failed to get vests.
Oh, she meant these anyway.