July 2007

He Says, She Says

Author: Keith Kelson & Jean Wharton

This Month’s Topic: Shopping

He Says:
By: Keith Kelson

Will Smith’s character in the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, solves a Rubik’s Cube in a cab while trying to convince a stockbroker to consider him for a position at the broker’s firm. My nephew, Lukas, being an impressionable six-year-old wanted a Rubik’s cube after seeing that incredible feat. We all remember Mr. Rubik’s cube and its multi-colored blocks, mocking your intelligence if you dared to alter their original configuration. The cube supposedly has 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 different possible color combinations.

After many hours of looking at an unfinished cube, the solution just beyond their grasp, most folks usually “solved” the cube by using a hammer or by peeling off and re-applying the stickers. The cube turned twenty-five in 2005 and was pretty much off the national radar until Will Smith just had to show how a guy could solve a Rubik’s cube in a cab while pleading for a job interview.

So, thanks to Will Smith and his movie, I had to take on a task that is almost as frustrating as solving the cube itself: SHOPPING.

Like most men, I only shop when I absolutely have to. I hate shopping. When someone utters the words, “Let’s go shopping,” see if the majority of the men in the room don’t cringe. Unless you’re talking about shopping for big screen TVs, most men would rather have a root canal than go shopping. That’s a root canal without any anesthesia.

Women, of course, love to shop. The phrase “Shop till you drop” has never been uttered by a man, but women use it daily. They know when the sales are. They can smell a discount or a close-out sale a mile away. They just can’t go into a store and not buy something. Christmas shopping with a woman is, of course, reserved for those brave souls who have the patience of Job, nerves of steel and lots of disposable income.

Shopping is, for the most part, counter productive. Odds are, you won’t find the item you’re looking for, and it usually takes an act of congress to get the salesperson not to try to sell you some other useless doodad. They’ll cling to your ankles as you try to walk out of the store. “Please!! Buy something!! I have a wife and a mortgage!!”

I just wanted one, ONE Rubik’s cube for my six year old nephew. Of course, I might as well have been searching for Bigfoot or little green men from Mars. None of the major department stores or even any online merchants seemed to have that infernal cube in stock. The shelves were filled, however, with everything but the cube itself. Cube snakes, cube clocks and cube necklaces, instructional how-to DVDs showing how to solve the cube using algorithms that would make a rocket scientist proud—but no cube.

After pounding the pavement for a couple of weeks, I gave up. Lukas would just have to make do without a cube—like I survived my childhood without a model train set. It must have caused a disturbance in the force, however, because I was soon being slammed against the hoods of automobiles by women. “You can’t stop shopping,” they said, while twisting my arm into a hammerlock. “Lukas wants a Rubik’s Cube. You’re a good uncle aren’t you? Now, you get Lukas a Rubik’s Cube or things could get interesting.” They would then vanish in a puff of smoke.

So, I kept searching for the cube. Women kept giving me menacing looks if I walked past a toy store without going inside. By the time the movie The Pursuit Of Happyness was released on DVD, my right arm was numb from all those hammerlocks, but I finally found a Rubik’s Cube for Lukas. I gave him the cube, using my left hand, and I saw a minivan filled with soccer moms drive off.

I suppose I should be thankful. He could have wanted one of those bone density scanners that Will’s character lugged around for most of the movie.

She Says: Shopping
By: Jean Wharton

This month, I agree with my counterpart, for the most part. Shopping can be tiresome and annoying. But not all shopping is the same. I give you a few examples of how women shop…

Mission Shopping
You have been invited to a special event, a rehearsal dinner or perhaps a fundraiser for a charity. Looking over your closet, you have numerous options but nothing to wear. The event is in a month. You think you have plenty of time to find that perfect “little black dress.” You begin your mission shopping casually, dropping by the mall on your way to the grocery store just to check one department store’s dress selection. On your lunch break, a cute little boutique catches your eye and you run in to browse. You’re just seeing what is out there at this point, reminding yourself you have month. Then a month turns into two weeks, and suddenly you’re called out of town on business. Casual shopping goes out the door as you use much of your free time squeezing in and out of dressing rooms on a mission to find that dress. You’re tired and frustrated. The mall feels like a prison. You’re annoyed by every sales clerk, and nothing is matching your expectation. Some shoppers can’t handle the pressure at this point. They quit shopping and settle on wearing a dress already in their closet. Others (myself included) will not rest until that dress is found. My friend, Keith, was on a mission looking for the Rubik’s Cube. I’m proud he didn’t give up on his mission.

Boredom shopping
Often you don’t have a purpose to shop or a specific outfit to find. You’re simply bored. Recently, on a rainy Saturday, I was at home reading, cooking, writing letters and watching movies, when suddenly I had the urge to go shopping. When boredom strikes, shopping is often the old friend a girl turns to. Boredom shopping very often does not yield great results, however you’re out and about, moving and walking. There are people to chat with and make fun of while you breeze in and out of the mall shops. I’ve often been on a boredom shopping trip and not even tried on a single item. Men boredom shop, too. Few gentlemen can deny that they make pointless trips to the mega-hardware store when they simply need a light bulb. It is okay to look.

Girlfriend shopping
It is a misconception that all women like to shop. Women shop differently. Some are solo shoppers who like to be alone in the dressing room and at the checkout counter. Others are more social and dependent on the opinion of others before making a purchase… “Do these jeans make me look fat?” Most of my friends vary greatly in their shopping techniques, and it is always interesting to find out how a new friend shops. If you’re out with a friend and your girlfriend shopping style does not match up, you may find yourself sipping a milkshake at the food court while you wait for your counterpart. I have friends who are always lucky on their shopping excursions. They find a perfect deal while I’m stuck in a pair of overpriced jeans that were mis-marked the wrong size. Since women have different shopping habits, it is safe to assume that men and women have vastly different habits. I have never taken a boyfriend shopping with me for anything other than tires or beer. I have never asked a man to hold my purse or wait outside a dressing room door. Ladies, please stop this insanity. You’ll get mad because he seems bored and he’ll get mad because you’re discussing your shoe purchase as if it is a life insurance policy.

I’m sure that the team of psychiatrists who monitor my mental health would suggest I not use shopping as a way to make me happy, and I agree. So be warned, women: Shopping is an expression of who you are already. It’s not a solution or celebration. If you’re feeling blue, shopping may be the elixir that soothes you for the moment, but you’ll still be blue, even when wearing a new pair of shoes. If you procrastinate about everything in your life, including buying a dress for your cousin’s wedding, the mission shopping trip is just going to make you stressed out and tired. Take a good look at yourself and your personality traits and compare that to what you know about shopping. You may find a parallel.

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