Friday, November 29, 2013

A Handy, Christmas Season Shopping Guide For Women Who Want Their Men To Shop With Them

I like shopping.  I know that many men don't.  But what I do I would call "parallel shopping," where I'm shopping at the same time as my wife and/or children, but for different things, and not with them. Because I like to cook, it isn't difficult for me to kill an hour or more in a fine grocery store or, less enthusiastically, in an upscale cooking store.

This year, I missed "Black Friday" due to circumstances, but it is actually a day I typically enjoy, and I was sad to miss it.  But even on that day, when we drive to an outlet mall, I do my own thing, meet up occasionally, and typically shut the whole endeavor down at that magical point where I've had enough and they are hungry enough.

But women like to shop with their men.  They think it's romantic, that it embodies closeness, and I'm romantic enough myself to accept that, but with some ground rules.  Women, if you want your men to shop with you, not just early in a relationship when they are like bees to the hive, but throughout, then you will have to accept some realities.  Here is my advice for how to keep your man shopping with you:

1. You can never take a man into three stores in a row without buying anything.  Men only go into stores to purchase.  They do not understand "browse."  So if you walk out of that third straight store empty-handed, you have likely lost them.  They are feeling scammed.  They think you are wasting their time.  Even if it's a key ring at the counter, go gaga over it and spend the money, if you want your next outing to be as a couple.  IMPORTANT CORROLARY:  Never try on anything you have no interest in purchasing just to see what it looks like.

2.  There are only two kinds of boutiques on the entire planet--those that have seats for men and those that don't.  You will never get to shop in the latter guilt-free.  My suggestion is, as you are walking out, say to the lonely woman on her computer, "You know, if you had chairs, my husband would have let me look in here for a long time and I probably would have bought something, but now he's hovering over me and rushing me out."  Eventually. That will solve it.

3.  Once a man has walked out of a store you are in, especially to wander further down the mall, he is not coming back in.  He does not want to be called back, he does not want to be asked for his opinion, not only because a) if he's left because he doesn't believe you are buying anything, but also because b)...

4.  It doesn't take a man long to figure out that you don't want his opinion, so stop asking for it.  He's certainly not going to step into the minefield of offering an opinion about clothing that you are trying on.  Stereotypical as that situation may be, we have still all lived it, have entered it naively, been burned by it.  But not continuously.  And the longer it goes on, we have come to realize that it applies to home decorating, to things you are buying for someone else when there are two or more options, or , really, to judgements about colors of anything.

5.  Man is a linear creature.  He does not want to return to a store an hour, a day, or a week later in order to revisit a shopping decision.  Any more than he wants to move furniture inside the house to more than location to "see how it looks."  If you like it, buy it.  Figure out how it will look, and then I'll move it.

6.  Today's man can entertain himself in a variety of ways.  Embrace that. Endorse it.  Supervise it.  Support it.  Don't let your man begin a shopping odyssey without at least a cell phone.  Better yet, with a book or an iPad or anything that a set of headphones will plug into so that he can override the store soundtrack.  Then let him alone.  Don't come up to him with shopping questions or ask for opinions while those headphones are on.  He's probably in the middle of a significant game or something.  And don't blow through the store, ready to go because "it's not my style"or (the more dangerous) "it's too young for me," just as he is settling into a (hopefully) seat and getting ready to enjoy himself.

7. Pay attention to the food.  My wife me to a street of antiques and housewares in Atlanta, and I was stunned to discover that there was no place to eat on the street--no coffee, no snack, no beer, no chance for a football game on TV.  It was only when we went into one antique place where they had a little makeshift cafe in the center that I thought, "Yeah, this place is alright, this place has got it figured out."  Men do not do well in wastelands; they have to know that they can find an outpost ahead, that there may be provisions ahead.

 Trust me.  You ignore this advice at the risk of future shopping trips.  You probably already know that.  Your husband has probably already declared that he's going to clean out that squirrel's nest while you are shopping.

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