2.13.2008

Shop 'til you flop

It's always dangerous to speak in generalities, but here's one now: As a rule, men don't like to go shopping.

Sure, there are exceptions to this rule. Gadgets, for instance. Put a man in a pro shop or a hardware store or a computer store, and he'll happily shop for hours, comparing prices and capabilities and shooting the breeze with sales clerks. Discussing the intricacies of titanium ball washers and electric screwdrivers and who has the biggest gigabyte. But these men's interests are usually pretty narrow, and they're uncomfortable drifting through the endless variety found in malls.

Women recognize that men will never truly enjoy shopping, but they expect us to play along. They expect men to relate to the thrill of the hunt, the adventure of seeing what's out there. But men don't get it. We no longer have those pioneer genes. We already know what's out there; we saw it on TV. Now we'd rather be home on the sofa.

Most men cave in from time to time and go shopping with their wives. You can recognize these men in the stores by a certain dimming of their eyes, a foot-dragging listlessness. Plus, they're usually holding their wives' purses while the wives try on new dresses. When freed of purse duty, these men wander over to the TV department, where they watch whatever's on the many screens, while sighing and sharing sympathetic glances with other browbeaten men.

Out at the malls, you sometimes see herds of young men who seem to be aimlessly shopping. But they're not shopping. They're trolling for women. Trust me on this. If it weren't for their youthful hormones working overtime, they'd be home on the sofa, watching TV.

Guys shop on the basis of need. When they really need something, when they can no longer put it off, then they go. But they don't call it shopping. They call it "going to the store." And they treat the event like a raiding foray into enemy territory.

These men march directly to the department they're seeking, looking neither left nor right. They locate the items they need, try them on if necessary, buy them and hurry out of the store, mission accomplished. And they don't go to the mall again until something else wears out.

This is particularly true of clothing, which is why some men have underwear older than their children.

A man buys a new white shirt and he wears it until it's the color of spilled coffee and his elbows are poking through the sleeves. Throw it out? Wouldn't dream of it. Because once he admits the shirt is a goner, he validates his need for a replacement, which means he'll have to go shopping for another one.

Some men develop an entire hierarchy of clothing. Shirts and pants that go up and down the scale of stains and disrepair. For these men, the closet is a barometer, measuring how soon they'll feel pressured to shop.

Take that new white shirt, for example. It's so pristine, the guy doesn't even want to wear it for fear of ruining it somehow. He keeps it set aside as a Special Occasion shirt.

But accidents happen, particularly at special occasions with free booze, and pretty soon the Special Occasion shirt starts to show some wear and tear. Then it becomes an Everyday Shirt, one still suitable for business occasions, but the guy has stopped worrying about spills.

Once the shirt is frayed and worn and no longer fit for public inspection, it becomes the one his wife hates: His Favorite Shirt. Perfect for Saturdays on the sofa.

Eventually, after duty as a Yardwork Shirt, the shirt has so many holes you can see through it, and it becomes a Retired Shirt, relegated to the back of the closet.

These shirts sometimes are called out of retirement (usually by his wife) and they find second careers as Dust Cloths.

And, the final stop, the end of the line, is when that shirt becomes a Garage Rag. The man will be using it to clean grease off a wrench and he'll recognize that old favorite shirt and he'll get a little misty.

Because he knows it's time to go shopping for a new one.

2 comments:

cnichie said...

I have been married for 25+ years. It never gets any easier either! LOL I still find myself trying to drag him in there, but I usually suffer, I try to just do it by myself. Less work!
:)

Uncle E said...

Very funny, Steve, as usual. Just getting caught up on your posts as I've had this bugger of a head cold that's waylayed me for the last couple of days. I've been living my own private Altamont right between my eyes, man, and the Hells Angels are kicking my ass!
Anyhew, I drew a line in the sand a very long time ago about carrying my wife's purse. I told her I would acquiesce as long as she would clean up my toe nail clippings.