It started, as most things do, so innocently. My daughter and I had gone ice skating at the Houston Galleria, hoping to escape the heat. Afterwards I went into the Ralph Lauren store, my wife and daughter watching the ice skaters who remained, thinking I would take but a brief stroll and emerge with my credit card unscathed. And then it happened. They called out, almost coquettishly, demurely suggesting I take a look. So I did. They were, as fate would have it, marked down to $349 from the original $595. But there was more--a sign offering an additional 30% off the lowest marked price. As I was crunching the numbers in my head, the salesman appeared, and suggested casually that $160 was a great price for "those shoes." $160? I looked at him incedulously, and he decamped for the cash register where he verified the price. So I brought in Mrs. Vintage Gent and daughter and tried on the shoes. So taken was my wife (in clinical parlance, we call this an enabler) that she scarcely batted an eye at the prospect of an additional hit on the credit card--this, in fact, after some $1,400 in Chan charges over the past two months. They are a truly wonderful pair of shoes, one of the finest in my modest but growing collection. I am in love.