Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sh*t I Don't Understand: Shopping

Need any further evidence at all that males and females are different species? Look no further than the shopping mall. We all need to go to the mall at some point, whether it be to buy holiday or birthday presents, or some new work clothes, or (gritting my teeth) shoes. Some people treat this consumer experience as a necessary evil, a pain-in-the-ass of an afternoon that can not end quickly enough. Others, well, they treat this as a sacred pastime. They're not just going out to "buy stuff." No, they're going shopping, which is a totally different animal - an animal that I just do not get.

Go to the profile of any female friend you have on Facebook and there are good odds that her interests will include "Shopping!" They even have shopping uniforms. Uniforms, you say? Think about it. You can imagine thousands of girls with money to burn going through the same checklist on a Saturday afternoon before hitting malls all across the country. Uggs? Check. Sweat pants? Check. North Face fleece? Check. Gigantic sunglasses? Check. Starbucks latté? Check. And there you have it - the shopping uniform.

It's not merely the act of buying things that they really love. We could only wish it were that simple. It's the chance to spend time with these luscious items that are most likely not needed, the chance to waste a salesperson's time trying on those $500 shoes you're never going to buy just so you can amble around a store for 4 minutes pretending to be Blake Lively. It's the chance to earn bragging rights with your friends (and rivals) that you got that same pair of jeans for $5 less than they did. It doesn't matter that you spent 20 minutes trying to find a parking spot, wrestled your way through a crowd of people at the clearance rack because you scouted the location the night before and knew exactly where that pair would be, waited for a half hour in line under one of those 125-degree store lighting systems, and will spend at least another 20 minutes trying to get out of the damn parking lot. No, that doesn't matter at all. "So what if I wasted an entire afternoon? Don't you understand, I got the same pants as Jamie, for $5 less! That bitch is gonna freak out! This is gonna be great!!!!!"

It's a bit of a chicken or the egg scenario, but just look at how products aimed toward females are marketed; they have the tireless shopper eating out of their hands. Go into a womens' shoe store or a Bath and Body Works, and you see about 9,000 variations of the same product. The funny thing is, it's all in an effort to attract people who already own the very things in the store. "Oh, I already have 15 pairs of black heels, but isn't this pair just to die for? And oohhh, look at this new chamomile-mocha-raspberry-apple body lotion! I already have gallons of the chamomile-mocha-raspberry-orange body lotion, but I have to have this too!" Who on earth needs all this garbage? No one, in actuality. But who on earth is under the impression that they need all this garbage? Enough people to keep these places in business, apparently.

In a chain of work emails that have been since lost in the mix, I was able to confer with the blog's close friend Ryan on a topic just like this one. He put it perfectly: shopping, in many ways, is a competition for women. They not only compete with each other, but with themselves. It's the challenge of walking into a mall or shopping center and seeing how much you can buy at a supposedly reduced price. To them, missing out on a sale is like being that guy who loses $200 gambling in AC on the same night all his friends win $200 each - it's a bang-your-head-against-the-wall feeling. Collecting items is the game, and shopping is how it's played.

I'm not saying men don't shop, but when they do it is with a plan and purpose, because there is undoubtedly a game on TV to get home and catch. That's one of the major differences - for women, shopping is the game, it is the entertainment, so to walk and look around aimlessly is just a way to further enjoy it. That's why you see many women go out to buy a new leash for their dog but end up coming home with so many new clothes you'd think she were going on a third world relief mission.

Now, men can be guilty of aimless store-wandering at times, but we do so when we're surrounded by golf clubs, baseball gloves, and bats. I haven't played competitive baseball in 10 years but you better believe I'm checking out the bat rack in a sporting goods store when I walk by it. But there is a major difference: we don't hold it against the opposite sex for not being willing to share this experience with us. We don't care. The fact you don't view the baseball glove wall at Dick's the way we do is A-OK. If anything, it just means you're normal. But women? Oh man, can some of them get pissed off if their husband or boyfriend doesn't enjoy shopping with them. You never, ever see those roles reversed in a relationship. Can you picture a bunch of dudes sitting at a bar and one guy is like, "yeah, man, my girlfriend didn't want to go help me pick out a new sand wedge, I'm so mad at her." I sure can't. And ladies, it's a sad truth but I'm not going out on a big limb by saying if you have yourself a man that actually enjoys shopping with you, then you have yourself a gay man, whether he has come to such a realization or not.

1 comment:

  1. All that shopping wears them out, and it's "good exercise". By the time they get home it's time for a "healthy" snack followed by a 3 hour nap.