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Babes in Toyland
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I hate shopping. It is a singular, visceral thing with me. I do most of it on-line if I can.

But last night, with the most grace I could muster, I finally agreed to go shopping with my wife to get a few Christmas presents. It's not that I don't like being with my wife, I love it, but I just hate shopping so much that, well, it even taints that.

So what we did was decide we'd make as nice a night of it as we could. We split the shopping duties, had a nice dinner out first (that always improves your outlook), split up (I hate being my wife's shadow in stores I'd never darken if left alone) and agreed to meet at a place an 9pm to go home.

Then, left to wander the mall at my own pace and to look at things I found interesting, I set off. Both Jan (my wife) and I are at the stage in life where we just don't "need" anything. And, frankly, there's not much I want either. But it's fun to open a present or two on Christmas day. So that was our goal last night. We limited our purchases for each other to $100 and our goal was to find as many neat little gifts as we could for that money. It turned out to be sorta fun. I ended up with 5 (and I can't tell you what they are because she occassionally reads the blog). What made it even more wonderful were the two nice ladies I found wrapping gifts in the mall.

If ever there was anything which guys hate ... I mean hate with a capital "H"... to do it is wrap gifts. I'm reminded of the Heineken commercial showing the guy wrapping a 6 pack for a gift (a 6 pack which becomes a 5 pack after he wraps it). I've had many a package which looked much like that when I finished with it. Anyway, I was more than happy to have my gifts wrapped by these ladies. And to validate my theory a quick look around the counter at the 6 people waiting to have their gifts wrapped found not a single female among them.

Finishing up early, I wandered out of the mall (which is huge) and to a resturaunt at which we'd agreed to meet at about 8:50. Now you have to know Jan to understand that I figured I had about a 40 minute wait. My wife has never been on time to much of anything. For such a bright lady she is probably one of the worst time managers in the world.

So I decided on a drink in the bar to ease the waiting time and told the lady behind the bar that I'd probably be having a couple since I was sure I'd be there till 9:30.

At 8:59 (I kid you not) Jan walked in the bar, laden with packages and a smile. The bartender immediately called foul and told Jan of my misfired prognostication (it's a girl thing I was told, they have to stick together). We all had a good laugh and Jan admitted that her on-time arrival was not something which could be considered "normal" for her. We had a nice nightcap together, grabbed our packages and headed for the house.

All-in-all a relatively pleasant experience. Pity it has taken me 57 years to find a tolerable way to shop, but hey, I did, so there.

By the by, and in my one commerical of the year, if you're looking for a watch I do a little side business on Ebay and I can overnight it to you if you're one of those late shopppers. Take a look if your so inclined.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

I’m with you, McQ. I don’t mind shopping as much as I mind thinking of something to buy. For years, my approach has been to set a dollar-target. Then, instead of finding the ideal gift in that dollar range, I just add another chunk to the total.

I figure I have, say, a 50% shot of getting an acceptable gift for $50. So, if I throw more money at it, my odds will improve! If the odds are 50/50 that a $50 gift will be acceptable, then almost anything I buy in the $75 range will be fine.

I lose money, but save my sanity.
Written By: Jon Henke
And Happy Holidays to you, Book. ;)

And while I’m thinking about it. This “Merry Christmas” thing is getting out of hand.

My wife works for a law firm that deals with Municipal entities. While at a meeting with one of those entities, a Director made certain to put on the legal minutes that the tree in the local park was to be referred to as a “Christmas tree” and not a “holiday tree”. Even when no one made any notion to call it otherwise, the Director was adamant and forceful about it.

Now all of that is fine and good. My wife is a secular Jew and I’m an Irish agnostic and we’ve called it a “Christmas tree” throughout our entire lives. To call it a “holiday tree” is just stupid. But the incident called up a bigger issue.

For years, the Right has been calling the ascendance of “political correctness” a cultural disaster. With the likes of O’Reilly, John Gibson, and others waging a Jihad against “happy holidays”, aren’t they now in danger of being the “politically correct” police for the other side?
My wife now has to be careful about her greetings. Using blanket terms such as “happy holidays” and “seasons greetings” might offend sensitive Christians and upset her clients.
Just one more thing to worry about. Thanks Bill, … appreciate it.

And to the Christians, I wish each and every one of you a Happy Holy Day.

(me, it’s just ham and football day!! But I do like the lights.)
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Men and women have very different mental associations with the word "shopping." For men, shopping is a simple, goal-driven matter of "I want this so I’ll go get this." We become guided missiles in the store, and anything that gets in the way irritates us to no end. We hate lines, hate crowds, and hate not being able to find what we want quickly.

For women on the other hand, "shopping" is not a task—it’s a liesurely experience. Browsing, sampling, trying this and that, finding new things they didn’t even want before they walked in the store, chatting with people they run into, and so on. There’s typically not the slightest sense of urgency, and often they don’t even enter the store with a specific goal in mind. Which is why shopping with them has us wanting to gnaw our own arms off to escape in very short order.
Written By: Matt McIntosh

Matt, I think you’ve nailed it.
Written By: McQ
My dad always called that masculine shopping style "commando shopping"— you go in with your list, you get what you need, and you get out of there pronto. You don’t look at anything else, just what’s on your list. (BTW he also runs a side business on eBay selling antique audio equipment he’s refurbished.)

Me, I’ve been shopping online this year. We moved this year to a very small town where if you can’t get it at Wal-Mart, you have to get a babysitter for the kids, drive for half an hour to the big city and try to find some place that carries what you want, then hope you can get the merchandise inside the house without the kids peeking at it. Much, much easier to shop online, where inside of 15 minutes you can have the exact ant farm your daughter wants for Christmas, shipped directly to your door in a discreet little box, and you can be sure she’s asleep while you’re shopping. It’s "commando shopping" at its best.
Written By: Wacky Hermit
Matt McIntosh is right. Men do not go shopping. Shopping is a process, hence the gerund. Men hunt. We have our goal in mind. We seek for our prey and we pursue it in our own goals-oriented way. It is what we do.

Now my fiance and I go shopping together all the time. But it is generally when neither one of has anything particular to buy and we just want to get out of the house. And we don’t do it at Christmas, because mall traffic means it isn’t fun.

Oddly enough I have no trouble wrapping my own gifts. If I don’t want to do the wrapping, I’ll go the giftbag route.
me, it’s just ham and football day!
Man your wife is a secular Jew, isn’t she? My fiance is also a secular Jew (and she also likes the lights). Her family also thinks this holiday tree thing is similar. With a vast percentage of the American population gearing up for Christmas, calling it a holiday tree isn’t fooling anybody.
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
hmm. Though female myself, shopping isn’t something I do for fun (beyond the pleasure I derive from getting gifts for my family and friends). I also detest wrapping. In my experience, however, I do differ from the majority of my gender in those—among other—ways.

And happy Yule to you all. :)
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
Nice article. And I would gladly help you carry that word, "nightcap" out to the curb along with the tree come January. I really would pay to see that word dumped into a 400hp chipper running at full throttle. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Written By: John Stein
URL: http://
I find all this push-back against Happy "Holidays" and Fox’s "War on Christmas" more than a tad annoying, like Pogue.

...and I’m a right-wing Christian! Being oversensitive about the non-use of the term "Christmas" is just as bad as being oversensitive about the use of "Christmas". Everyone just get over it, okay?
Written By: Nathan
Here’s the funny part ... I wrote a post about shopping and who brings up the "Christmas" thing?

Nathan, Pogue and Book, two of whom are tired of the subject ... heh.

Written By: McQ
Uh-huh, yeah,

You write a dainty little story about how men hate to shop. And others turn it into a semi-serious discussion.

Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Dainty? DAINTY?!

Bite your keyboard, Pogue.

It was testosterone laced. Guys hate shopping. Guys hate wrapping. Drinking at a bar. Reference to a beer commercial.

What the hell more do you want?

Dainty ... sheesh.
Written By: McQ
Hey, if anybody is going to be a nancy-boy around here, it’s me. Let’s try and maintain some role distinction, please!
Written By: Jon Henke


And Merry, Merry,

(and have a nog on me) ...
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Well, I’d like to point out that I’m not tired of Christmas, nor am I necessarily tired of discussing Christmas. I’m tired of people being over-sensitive to discussions of the nomenclature Christmas, holidays, what to call ’em, what-have-you.
Put another way, I’m tired of prickly oversensitivity, regardless of the object of its expression.
Why don’t we just call it "Yuletide" again? That has secular origins, I believe, but is so traditional no should be able to object to it.
Written By: Nathan
I’m tired of people being over-sensitive to discussions of the nomenclature Christmas, holidays, what to call ’em, what-have-you.

Uh, well, gee Nathan, if that’s the case, then why are you still discussing it?

To my knowledge, the three of us here at QandO haven’t said a word one way or the other on the topic.
Written By: McQ
Because I was responding to Pogue and Book.

I merely found it interesting that I was in agreement with Pogue that the anti-anti-Christmas issue is tiresome, and commented. I was getting ready to post something like that on my own blog already, but the comments here elicited my reaction first. It wasn’t intended to be in reaction to your post, rather just following the conversation where it led.

I think I can see where I went wrong: not putting an address to Pogue and Book at the top of my comment made it read like it was reaction to the main post.
Written By: Nathan
Ah hell Nathan, I’m just pullin’ yer leg a little.

McQ has retreated into political-correctness this Christmas by choosing to not dare mention the "C" word.

Yeah, right, which is why the 4th sentence in the post says:
I finally agreed to go shopping with my wife to get a few Christmas presents.
Do you ever read these posts before you shoot off your mouth?
Written By: McQ
Well, I have been somewhat of a contrarian (read: ass) lately, so if I had actually offended you, I wanted to take it seriously and try to clear the air.
You know, I need to clear the cache on my other computer so that my new blog address shows up...
Written By: nathan
I like shopping.
Written By: nathan
Yeah? Well as you once admitted, you’re a couple fries short of a Happy Meal.
Written By: McQ
Just 1 fry short!

Okay, maybe two.
Written By: nathan
See ... never admit to something, even in jest, which can be used in the comments section of another thread.

Heh ... Merry Christmas, Nathan.
Written By: McQ

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