Mirror images

By Steve Galea

“Which one do you like?”  Jenn said. 

It was the question that I had been dreading from the moment we entered into the home décor store.  

For, in front of me, was every middle-aged man’s nightmare – the mirror section. Which is, as we all know, most treacherous place for a man who just wants the agony of shopping to be over.

One false move – be it rolled eyeballs, silent mimicking of your spouse’s words – and your partner, even if she is standing in front of you, is sure to see it. And that can lead to dangerous conversations with sentences that start with, “Oh, I see. You really don’t care if our mirror doesn’t go with the rest of the washroom decor…”

Which, as any man knows, is a statement we nod in agreement with instinctively. And that just leads to further conversations about what you actually consider important.

And no good ever comes of that.

Knowing this, I had to think fast. But, since I can barely think slow, I opted for the standard stalling tactic.

“Which one do I like?” I repeated. 

“Yes,” she said. “And why did you say that so slowly?”

“Which one do you like?” I countered.

“I’m asking your opinion,” she replied.

Frankly, I don’t understand why. She stopped listening to my decorating advice years ago when I suggested we get an antler-themed toilet paper roll holder. (Even after I explained to her that we could probably place 12 rolls on a good buck.)

“I like the round one over there,” I said, hoping I had guessed correctly.

“The round one with the bevelled edges, or the one with the pewter frame?” she probed further.

“The one with the pewter,” I said, but only because I thought pewter was short for computer. Which, if you think about it, a computerized mirror would be a great idea. 

“A round mirror wouldn’t look right in our washroom,” she said, after briefly considering it.

“That’s what I was thinking,” I replied. 

“What do you think of the horizontal, rectangular one with the silver, frame?” she asked.

“I like the shape of it,” I replied. “And, if we gain weight, we won’t have to get a new mirror. Or, if I finally get that growth spurt, we can turn it vertically!”

I thought it was an intelligent answer. And so did Jenn, apparently. 

“Sometimes I can’t believe how your mind works,” she replied.

Despite this, and the hour or so we spent, discovering how many bags I had under my eyes, she could not decide on the one that would hang over our washroom vanity.

As for myself, I decided quickly. It would be the one she wanted.

I also realized that, despite what I always thought, mirrors are not just cheap televisions, with lousy shows and devastatingly handsome leading men. 

They are far more than that. They are what separates us from other animals – and not in a good way. You’d never catch a dog staring at itself in a mirror while plucking its nose hairs. 

Nevertheless, Jenn, ever the optimist, left the store hoping that we’d find just the perfect mirror at the next stop. 

Look,” I said, “what’s the point. We’re not going to find any that make me look better.”

“Steve,” she replied. “A mirror does not just show you a picture of yourself. It is also a piece of décor. And the décor you choose tells others a little about you.”

It was an interesting thought. And, maybe one day, if we ever buy a mirror, I’ll be able to reflect upon it more.