We enter a store, but only for one reason.
He needs khaki pants.
He does not pause at the sale table where the exact kind of lamp we need for the den is beckoning, at one-third off. He sweeps past the women's sportswear department, past the glorious display of cookware and china. Lamps and china are not on the agenda.
When I shop for pants, I scoop up at least six pair for starters - and only because that's generally the upper limit allowed in fitting rooms.
Besides, no matter how much I may like the first choices, there's always that possibility that something infinitely better is lurking out there on the rack. And I can't rest until I've found it.
For my husband, he needs one pair of khakis to replace the ones he's had since George Bush the elder was in the White House. And those are being discarded only because they may not survive one more spin in the washing machine.
He doesn't need more than six minutes to find the khakis, look them over front and back, check the size and price, and announce that he's finished shopping.
Finished? We haven't even started.
"Aren't you going to try them on?" I ask, baffled.
Now it's my husband's turn to be puzzled.
They're khakis, they're his size, what's the big deal?
We spar briefly, and just to be done with it, he grudgingly makes his way to a bank of fitting rooms, extracting a vow from me that I won't wander away.
I try to keep that vow. But a wonderful scarf several aisles away is calling out, and I must answer. By the time I get back to the men's department, I see a scowling man shifting his weight from one foot to the other, looking as if he has just been condemned to life in prison - which is not unlike how my husband views department stores.
He notes in tones not dulcet that he has been waiting for me for 15 minutes, and that this is positively the last time he'll shop with me for anything. I mutter apologies, and try hard to concentrate on getting out of the store without a hitch.
There is one minor lapse in the shoe department when I pause over a pair of high-heeled sandals that would make my life perfect - but it's not worth the hassle.
As we exit the store, I see the relief flooding my husband's face. Salvation is ahead: fresh air, the parking lot, the short ride home to the recliner and his newspapers. He will not even glance at the khaki pants again for hours, possibly days.
My purchases, on the other hand, will invariably be instantly unpacked, tried on again, surveyed in various mirrors, and either lamented or celebrated.
No such reflection or recrimination for my guy.
Best of all, from his standpoint, it will be years before the new khaki pants will have to be replaced.
For my part, I vow that the next time I shop, it will be with someone who appreciates the marvels of the modern marketplace, someone who celebrates the infinite wonder and variety of a terrific department store.
In other words, a woman.