I learned one very important lesson in this particular week: never make a bet with your wife when she's in a bad mood. Firstly, wives do not make a bet with their husband unless they are one hundred percent certain of winning, and secondly, they can be very, very (very) vindictive.
First up, I am six foot two inches tall, balding of head and hair sprouting of body. I take size eleven shoes, and size sixteen of dress. This latter piece of information I discovered in my week of hell. The bet, as I'm sure you are wondering, is who can take more pain, men or women. This was tested by doing a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle while eating chillies. I wouldn't mind. I constructed the test. I figured that the greater capacity of spatio-orientation of the male brain would see me through. I reckoned without the pertinent facet that I would need the ability to see in order to use the male's much vaunted hand eye co-ordination. In hindsight, the fact it is hand 'eye' co-ordination should have been a big hint.
As it was, my wife ate more chillies and completed the jigsaw faster, so I lost.
My forfeit? A week as a woman, so I could 'more fully appreciate the pain of just being female'.
First up was a shopping trip.
I have long noticed a few things about women's clothes shops. First off, there are far more women's clothes shops than men's. I always put this down to the decision making process. Men have a simple aim; 'trousers' for instance. This can be accomplished in one shop. Women think 'trousers' and immediately have to then decide 'Capri', 'skin tight', etc. And that is before colour is considered. This requires more commercial floor space. The second part is that women have more clothes. Never play strip poker with a woman, they have an advantage, even if shoelaces are counted as separate items.
The second nugget of information I have discovered about women's clothes shops is that they spray something in the air in them that makes men yawn and fart in equal measure. I believe this is put in place to identify transvestites.
My wife explained the bet to the shop assistants, much to their hilarity and my consternation. It did mean I got special treatment. I was even measured for a bra, which I discovered is 42AA. I am very pleased with the AA tag. However, 42 doesn't come as low as AA, so I had a C-cup.
"You can pad it out," said my wife.
The shop assistants, in fits of giggles had me attempt to get into several items of clothing that most women would surely struggle to get into without the aid of a winch, three gallons of goose grease and a lot of imagination.
"Think like a woman," my wife advised. "Imagine you are putting this item of clothing on so that you can get laid."
"If I wore this item of clothing," I replied. "The man would be unable to remove it, and would eventually give up."
It turns out that hips have more use than simply being somewhere to hang legs. They are, in women at least, a useful place to stop items of clothing falling down. Men, on the other hand, have no such handy shelf, and thus have to be sliced in half in order to keep most items of clothing up. If you ask me, this is a major design flaw. Women too, I now know, do not have shoulders. They look like shoulders, arms swing from them in the way that arms should swing from shoulders, however, they cannot be shoulders as they do not interfere with putting on any item of clothing.
My wife, with the help of two giggly shop assistants and without my help, settled on three dresses. Trousers, of any kind, I was told, were strictly off the table. This is probably for the best, as women are never asked in which direction they hang.
For lunch we visited a sandwich shop. I was allowed to look at the sandwiches, but I had to buy a low fat yoghurt.
Shoes, were a completely different kettle of beeswax. There was only one shop in the city where I live that sells women's shoes of a size suitable for a man that Big Foot eyes enviously. My wife had often said it was the size of my feet that had first attracted me to her. Now, they were a problem.
"Do you have any shoes in a size eleven?" was my wife's question when we entered, shortly before explaining the bet to yet another shop assistant. On hearing of the pain element in the bet, the only shoes that this shop had in my size had been designed by the Spanish Inquisition. I discounted the thigh high stripper boots. I had a choice of heels that made me six foot six (and liable to hit every door frame between here and the following Saturday) in bright red, or two inch heels that were so narrow that they made the bones of my feet compress so hard the cartilage was turned into cheese.
"We'll take both," said my wife.
So far, despite the ridiculing in the clothes shop, how ridiculous I looked in a three quarter length dress and how ridiculous I felt in general, I felt I had taken the day's shopping in good humour.
I drew the line at having my ears pierced.
"Women go through this pain without blinking," she told me.
"No," I replied.
"Pierced ears are a sign of womanhood," she told me.
"No," I replied.
She let the piercing go, mainly, I feel, because it was the end of a long and very tiring day.
So I thought.
"Make-up is tomorrow," said my wife. "I also think some beauty pampering is seriously in order."
This sounded rather relaxing.
"You need to make dinner," she pointed out.
I suggested take-out. This was only an option if I went out dressed as a woman. I made dinner.
At the end of one of the most tiring days of my adult life in which I'd visited fifteen different shops, walked fifteen miles and cooked a meal for two, I was ready to collapse into bed. However, my wife wanted sex.
Ah well, at least the day had one perk.