The Opposite Sex 

Shopping maul

Shopping maul

BEN: The other day I made the disastrous mistake of mentioning in front of my girlfriend that I needed to get a new pair of pants. For some reason, I’d momentarily forgotten that shopping is to women like smack is to a junkie—any excuse to do it will suffice—and the next thing I knew, I found myself in the midst of a full-blown mall trip. Thus it took three times longer to buy my clothes than it would have if I’d done it alone. Not only did I have to stretch out my own pants-buying experience to painful lengths, I had to go in store after store while my girlfriend tried on clothes and searched for shoes that look exactly like pairs she already owns.

Let me explain something. I own a lot of T-shirts. As far as I’m concerned, my day should begin with nothing more than reaching in my closet, feeling cotton, throwing it on, and walking out the door. I remember in college, I had the dream that one day I would own 365 T-shirts and 365 pairs of boxers so that I would only have to do laundry once a year.

My point is that I have no interest in or regard for what I wear, except that it should be simple and shouldn’t require a whole lot of consideration. That’s why I can’t for the life of me understand the female need to devote whole weekends to looking at clothes in the mall. Aren’t the 25 catalogues you get every week enough?

It’s not just that I have a total lack of interest in clothes: I cannot stand the experience of shopping. As soon as you walk into the store, there’s this monotonous disco playing constantly while three to five sales clerks accost you and appraise you of their many sales on back inventory. Then there’s the creepy experience of changing in those little rooms next to other strangers, followed by the embarrassment of walking out into the middle of the store in a piece of clothing that may not even fit. I’d rather just buy it, take it home, try it on, and if it doesn’t work out, take it back. Then you don’t have to deal with the misery of being in those hellish environments any longer than you have to be.

That’s the problem, though: The gals don’t find it hellish and don’t want to leave. So you’ve got to watch as she tries on every little thing that strikes her fancy. You girls don’t really understand the utter degradation and humiliation it causes for us. There we are, standing in the middle of a store with three bags and the purse you’ve asked us to hold for you. Maybe if we’re lucky, we get the love seat with the endtable of magazines. This would appear to be a concession to making men more comfortable, but there’s no Sports Illustrated, no Maxim, not even a Details. It’s all that junk they want to read, like Cosmo, Bazaar, or Vogue.

Meanwhile, you run around talking to sales clerks in this bizarre language with inscrutable phrases like ”back welt pockets,“ ”bootcut chino,“ ”twill short,“ ”long ripstop,“ ”flat-front styling,“ ”chunky stitch,“ and ”cap-sleeve tee.“ Then you actually have the gall to put something on and then come out and ask us how you look in it. Look, we may be dim at times, but there is no way in hell we’re going to fall for that trap: If we tell the truth, we’re up shit creek; and if we lie to play it safe, you can usually tell and we’re still up shit creek.

So after two hours of teeth-pulling pain, you leave with a $20 headband. Then you go back the next day to find more. In the end, I guess I shouldn’t gripe. No one appreciates the delectable sight of a well-dressed woman more than I. But the process is one I just cannot handle. I think I’d rather go to war.

DANNY: Men don’t like to shop with women? I’ve got the perfect solution—don’t freaking go. Women don’t love to shop—we have to shop. You think we enjoy having you walk listlessly 10 feet behind us, spouting off your endless wisdom on how shopping should be? Guess what, buddy. You’re a shopping albatross. There are only two reasons to take a straight man shopping—one is if he’s paying, and the other is to buy him something to wear besides his Members Only jacket.

The only place in the mall I really enjoy going is the food court: It’s the one place where I get exactly what I want. Otherwise, I’ve got to deal with picking from the 25 different styles of black pants, trying them on, then having to tell the happy, skinny saleschick that my ass just didn’t fit in any of them.

Sure, it would be easy to get in and out if we only had a few options, but we end up having to try things on when we’re forced to decide between the V-neck, boat neck, scalloped neck, or turtleneck. I don’t know one woman who ever walked out of a dressing room thinking, ”You know, I really love my shape. Clothes just fit me so perfectly!“ We’re thinking about winter, summer, layering in between, and whether or not we really look good in yellow. Men must ponder only this: long or short sleeve? And you think we enjoy those little dressing rooms? Hey, you can see the backs of your legs in there!

So we’re in the midst of dealing with self-esteem issues, poring endlessly over our options, finding the perfect skirt only to realize it only comes in a size 2, picking out a few maybes, and then dealing with sticker shock at the register—and you don’t want to hold our purses. Well, God forbid we shouldn’t be mentally stimulating to you at all times. Maybe stores should employ lap dancers to entertain while you sit your fat asses in a chair and do nothing—which is the same thing you do at home without complaint.

Suck it up. There ain’t no Cosmo in Bass Pro Shops, I’m here to tell you that. Go to be supportive or don’t go at all. It’s just a few hours out of your life—somewhat equivalent to a football game. I will allow this: You probably think we like shopping because there is a slight feeling of euphoria that women experience when we find exactly what we’re looking for. It puts us in a good mood and gives us an unexplainable feeling of confidence.

If all was right with the world, I’d be able to wear my white tank top, jeans, and tennis shoes everywhere, every day—and the only reason to hit the mall would be for a Chick-Fil-A sandwich with waffle fries. Unfortunately, society dictates otherwise, and I’m just trying to keep up. The last thing I need is some jackass stressing me out and reminding me that I’ve bought that same black sweater five times. Don’t like it? Stay at home. I’ve already got a conscience.


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