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A FELLOW we know wondered why women...


A FELLOW we know wondered why women don't have X-ray vision. If only they could see into the brains of the men they love, he suggested, they would discover their partner's fantasies -- and dress accordingly.

This odd observation followed our friend's visit to a Victoria's Secret shop during the Christmas rush. Victoria's Secret peddles a line of women's apparel designed to, shall we say, enhance their attractiveness? Frilly stuff.

Yet our friend ventured there somewhat shyly, half expecting the salesclerks to insinuate a) that he was buying outfits for a mistress or b) that he was a secret cross-dresser.

It was the same uneasy impulse that makes husbands who are asked to hold their wives' pocketbooks for a moment at the mall grasp the things as if they were either miniature briefcases or uninflated footballs. Our friend was set to announce, "I want a gift for my wife!" in a stage whisper everyone could hear.

Imagine his relief, then, on discovering that half the people in the shop that day were men who, like himself, were engaged in last-minute shopping for sweethearts.

A smiling clerk showed him something frilly in black and he immediately said, "I'll take it."

Then a mortifying thought struck him: "I'll have to carry it to the counter!" The prospect was unsettling. There simply was no way one can pretend a frilly gown is a small briefcase or a football, even an uninflated one.

Sensing his discomfort, the salesclerk offered to take the item to the counter and leave it for the cashier. Our friend breathed a sigh of relief, completed his purchase and fled.

Next year he swears it's back to candy and perfume. Fantasies, he decided, are just too nerve-wracking.

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