By Contributing Editor Jenny Isenman Visit her blog at suburbanjungle.net While I was growing up, my Father was the one who took me on weekly shopping excursions, and patiently waited outside many a woman’s dressing room at Saks or Bloomingdales. My Dad is a Metrosexual. I’m sure you’re familiar with the term, which describes a straight man who likes shopping, manicures, trends, home décor, staring at paint chips, and reading Men’s Health. My husband is Metrophobic. Now this term I may have coined. He is fine with homosexuals because they are overtly gay and there isn’t anything wrong with that. But Metrosexuals are a curious bunch. He can not understand how a straight man would waste time keeping up with trends, or wear clothing with labels and hardware that represent high-end brands. To be a Metroexual, you need a certain level of confidence in your ability to pull off styles that are forward or somewhat questionable, without losing the, “Oh Yeah, I could tag that” mentality. When I first met Mark, he was malleable. I had him wearing trendy things, even hair gel. It was the 90’s okay? Stop questioning my judgment. But, I went too far. I got him a pair of Kenneth Cole clunky black shoes. At the time they were very in. The problem was that he is a size 12, and clunky 12’s are pretty, well…Frankenstein-esque. I saw it immediately, but couldn’t admit it because I wanted him to trust me and let me change him. However, his friends weren’t so courteous and Mark’s “clown shoes,” became a standard dig that would be referenced for years to come. That was the end of Mark’s experimental phase and the last time he let me dress him in anything other than “Country Club” attire. He won’t wear anything too fitted, too shiny, too patterned, too sheer, too acid washed, too dark washed, or too trendy. On top of those requirements, he won’t wear button fly jeans or flat front khakis, as they do not provide the generous room needed to accommodate his balls. He won’t actually shop, so if I want him to have any style at all, I have to guess at sizing and acceptability. As an ex-personal shopper and stylist, you can imagine how it kills me not to be able to buy him a pair of beautiful Ferragamo shoes or perfect fit Sevens because of the metal hardware and giveaway pocket embroidery. My father called me from Saks yesterday to run a gift for Mark’s birthday by me. “Now Jenny, before you say anything, I have searched for an hour and found something so perfect. I would love to have it, and I think you could talk Mark into wearing it.” “What is it?” I ask, already knowing from the buildup it is way over the top. “It’s an awesome black ‘Seven for all mankind’ vest with stripes. It would look so great with jeans and a t-shirt.” Now, I knew it was going to be over the top. I knew my Dad would throw out all previous knowledge of my husband and get something he would not want, but in my wildest, I would never have guessed a striped vest. “Dad, no way in hell would he wear that.” “Why, you don’t think you could talk him into it?” “No.” If my husband wore a vest and t-shirt to dinner I would lead the charge at making fun of him. “Don’t you guys go out to dinner? What does he wear?” “Yes Dad, we go out to dinner, and he wears a button down.” “That’s so boring… how about a new skinny tie, does he have any of those yet? They are very in for fall.” “No, I don’t think he wants a skinny tie.” “They’re not super skinny, just a little.” “Dad, just get him a nice button down. John Varvatos is good, Ted Baker, Donna Karan, Old Navy…simple.” “Would he wear one with an amoeba pattern, because I saw a beautiful Armani.” In the end he got lovely shirt -simple nice stripes, good colors, and no patterns that you’d find under a microscope. No sheen, no metallic thread. Totally acceptable, except for a three metal snaps on the sleeve (My Dad’s favorite part.) One snap with a gun and one with a star and one simply, plain. In a department store with 10,000 variations of a basic button down shirt, he could not find even one. When it comes to Mark, get him a gift certificate and I’ll go buy myself some shoes. About Jenny: I am a neurotic mother of two amazing, wonderful, brilliant, perfect children which is saying a lot because I am a harsh critic and an uncompromising disciplinarian. You know, the kids have to sing for their supper kinda stuff… well, they at least have to ask… well, a grunt would be nice. Actually, they just sit and I make multiple meals until one is worthy of their sophisticated taste buds and doesn’t exacerbate their fear of burnt spots, crust, pizza bubbles, or food that touches other food. It is my job to keep them protected from the Florida sun, prehistoric insects, and plasticware with the number 3, 6, or 7 on the bottom. I have to expose them to just enough germs to build their immune system, while using little enough sanitizer to keep them healthy. I also have to remember to feed and water them daily. A freelance writer for magazines such as InStyle and Mademoiselle, I also have a fabulously funny and relatable blog called suburbanjungle.net
When it comes to buying gifts, get him a gift certificate and I’ll go buy some shoes.