Men, this holiday season, when you find yourself in your automobile with your wife or girlfriend, returning from some sort of entertaining event, watch out for any of these early indicators of a shopping bait-and-switch:
“I just remembered something I need to pick up.”
“We’ll be driving right past…”
“This will only take a minute.”
For a man, shopping with a woman is a state of existence that is neither living nor dead. It’s a shadow world. Technically, you still have a pulse. But like a corpse, you have no control over where you are or what you’re looking at. You might try to settle the ambiguity by trying to contribute to the shopping experience, in a way that you imagine a living person might, but it won’t work. That looks something like this:
Man: “How about this one?”
So you try to go the other way, slumping into a chair if you’re lucky enough to be in a furniture store, or sleeping on your feet like a horse if not. That’s called “not helping,” and in the long run it is a worse option than death. You know you’ll pay for it later, but sometimes you can’t help it. Shopping drains you. Your vision narrows until it seems as if you’re viewing the store through a hose. And your heart stops circulating your blood because it just doesn’t see the point of it. Before long, you’re full of stale blood. You reach for your phone, like smelling salts, to give you some stimulation, but dear God there is no signal in the store.
Maybe you think you can find relief by pushing the shopping cart. To the ignorant observer, that looks like helping. And you hope it will be enough stimulation to keep your brain above room temperature. But it’s a rookie mistake. In the context of couples shopping, pushing the cart is a process of relocating your selected products from one wrong location to another. For example, you might move the cart from a position of not being close enough to the shopper-in-chief to a new position that is crowding an old lady, or blocking a popular shelf. Repeat.
Sometimes, for reasons involving senseless cruelty, your shopping companion will ask you which one of two items you prefer. You know it’s a trap. But you also know there’s no way to wiggle out of it. Now you have two choices. You can either be an unhelpful and indecisive wimp, or you can be a frickin’ idiot. There are no other options. I recommend the frickin’ idiot path because it’s more masculine. That choice goes like this.
Woman: "Which one do you like?“
Man: "Definitely this one.”
Woman: “Why do you like that one better?”
Thus begins your chance to prove that you have not been listening to anything she has said about this entire category of her life, beginning with your first date and continuing all the way through the car ride that got you to this horrible, horrible place.
Husbands have been trying to weasel out of this trap since the dawn of time. Your best bet – the Hail Mary play – is misdirection. Try changing the subject. At the very least it can buy you some time. For example…
Man: “I like the yellow one because it reminds me of your eyes.”
Woman: “What the hell? My eyes aren’t yellow!”
Man: “They are a little bit. Have you had your liver tested lately?”