Men are from NAPA, women are from Macy’s

(Around here, Sundays are reserved for sleeping in and breakfast cooked by our private chef. At least until the kids bang on the door at 7 a.m., waking me from this dream and demanding pancakes. It’s also a day reserved for Flashbacks, when I, figuratively speaking, serve up something from the distant past, much like a late Sunday night at Denny’s, except without the risk of food poisoning…)

Men don't like shopping If you want to observe the difference between men and women at its purest form, study their shopping habits. With the holiday buying season now officially under way, there’s no better time to witness this phenomenon for yourself.

Here’s a brief study guide to get you started.
a) Define an outfit as something comprised of at least three pieces of clothing, all of which are interchangeable and flattering.
b) Have researched the best buys and know where there’s a sale today.
c) Are undecided about whether or not a drop-waist makes them look fat.
d) Will try on all clothes within arm’s reach of the fitting room.

a) Define an outfit as something comprised of jeans. And maybe a fishing lure.
b) Have researched today’s game schedule on ESPN and know they can get to the store and back during halftime.
c) Are undecided about how to answer when their wives ask if a drop-waist makes them look fat.
d) Won’t get within arm’s reach of the fitting room.

Obviously, the best time to conduct your study is when both men and women are in the store at the same time. This is easy to do if you just follow the Saturday sports schedule and plan your visits during halftime periods throughout the day.

The first thing you’ll notice is the difference between how men and women enter the department store.

Men don’t browse, they buy.

Being a man myself, I can attest to the fact that we enter the store with absolute purpose, and continue walking that way, even if we have no idea where we’re going. When we do find the clothing section, there’s no wasting time on decisions about color or fabric.

If it’s denim and has working pockets, we’re done shopping.

By comparison, most women enter a department store like archeologists stumbling upon the remains of a lost civilization. After creating a mental grid of the area, they begin the long, slow process of sifting through every rack and every bin of twisted undergarments until, eventually, they conclude there’s nothing worth buying.

At which point they move to the next aisle.

For a thorough study of the shopping habbits of men and women, you must also include men who accompany their wives shopping. Keep in mind that, in most cases, these men are there by choice, i.e., they’ve chosen to go shopping over having their wives sleep in mechanic’s overalls for the next six months. The easiest way to tell these men apart from those who aren’t there with their wives is to look for any man leaning on a shopping cart with the “100-yard stare.” This is an unblinking gaze fixed on the exit doors, which, in most cases, are within 100 yards.

It’s interesting to note some of the defense mechanisms that have evolved in these men over time. For example, waving at them instantly triggers loss of sight. Next comes deafness. Should you somehow manage to get their attention, these individuals will be unable to speak.

Carrying on the experiment passed this point isn’t recommended unless you are a certified physician.

That said, as we enter the holiday, gift-giving season, let’s take time to rejoice in the differences between men and women. Let’s embrace our diversity, and savor those things that define our genders.

And if possible, let’s do it within 100 feet of the exit.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available here from Port Hole Publications.)

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I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

65 thoughts on “Men are from NAPA, women are from Macy’s”

  1. Ned thank you so much for that I am no longer allowed to go shopping with my wife. She says there is nothing she needs so bad that she’s going to bring me with her. My indifference toward shopping and my behavior has rendered me unable to go with her. I will call that a victory.

      1. It was her decision. I will tell you what is really badass. Sometimes I can say “hey babe do you want me to go to the store with you” she will say “no Tom just sit there and be ready to bring them in the house when I get home”

        Tom Nardone, “basking in the sunlight of awesomeness”

  2. LOL — I’ve read research on these differences and it’s interesting to note that the anticipation of buying something is more dopaminergic than actually buying it. So when women are rummaging, they are getting a nice buzz. Also, the research showed that woman shop for social reasons, too. A type of bonding ritual which also releases oxytocin. Anyway, the final analysis was that shopping, including window shopping, was a stress reliever for women.

    I learned very quickly that shopping with my partner (now my ex) was stressful. I could tell that all he wanted to do was get what he came for and get the hell out, lol. In fact, I stopped going shopping with him all together. I was tired of always being 100 feet behind him and he was totally oblivious. Zip, Zoom, Whoosh. 😛

    ” Let’s embrace our diversity, and savor those things that define our genders.”

    “Genders” was the appropriate term to use in this case.

    “That said, as we enter the holiday, gift-giving season, let’s take time to rejoice in the differences between men and women.”

    Nicely stated, Ned.

    1. Thanks Victoria 😉 I watched a documentary on the effect of shopping on women, and they compared it to the same kind of excitement and chemical stimulation many men get from hunting. I’m not one of those men, but I do feel that way when I am shooting photographs for the newspaper. It’s a different mindset, hyper aware and stalking to “shoot” the perfect image.

      I have to say, I actually enjoy shopping with my wife. We have a lot of fun joking around, and I love the look on her face when she finds something unexpected that she likes. However, most of my friends fall into the other category, and would rather be water-boarded than go shopping — with their wives or anyone else.

      Thanks again for the kind words; I really believe the differences in the people we share our lives with is what makes life’s experience unique to each of us.

  3. I was fortunate enough to marry a woman who might actually hate shopping more than I do…thus, we spent most of our time sitting around the house naked. It was only because of Canadian winters and office preachy standards that either of us owned anything remotely close to a wardrobe (mostly just robe).

    1. I was going to make a comment about how a lot of men approach shopping like they do sex; they know what they want and are in and out. But I decided to keep that to myself.

      Wait, is this thing on…?

    1. As I told another blogger, I have to admit that my wife and I have a lot of fun shopping together. We joke around and come up with back stories for people we see while we’re shopping. I also pretended to be a mannequin once, standing next to a pair of well-dressed “men” while wearing jeans and an AC/DC t-shirt.

      My wife actually didn’t deny they she knew me when security came…

            1. Okay, serious Ned here: Don’t wait for the fall, as tempting as it is. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. But if you spend your time waiting for it, you’ll always be in that mode and risk experiencing all the great things that go with the climb. It’s kind of like rock climbing: If you don’t put some faith into what you’re doing, all you’ll see is the rock your clinging to instead of the scenery around you.

              OK, sorry. It’s just that I almost went that route after my divorce seven years ago but managed to catch myself before I did. Because I did, my eyes were open enough to recognize my wife when I saw her. I’m thankful for that every day. I’m not saying this guy is The One, or even that he won’t let you down. I’m just saying don’t let past experience overshadow your future hopes.

              No sarcasm here, Lisa — just good thoughts for your happiness.

              Now, back to our regularly scheduled… uh, whatever it is I do…

              1. Well…LOL..he did not like it when I went to the restroom at the restaurant and as I was returning another man (right in front of him) stopped me and said “why are you late? I’ve been waiting..” I was speechless and then he turned casually and said “..sir that’s because she is with me ..”
                I have never had anyone do that for me. Opened my doors. Never walked in front of me. Always put me first. Never had that either. Gentleman. Of course being a doctor he is very wise and a bit of kind to me goes a long way. He isn’t cocky even tho he is a dr. Funny but not cocky. And if i hold my fingers right….he mentioned skiing in the Swiss alps…I havent skied in forever. I am a wreck.
                Did I say he has been the ultimate gentleman all weekend!??!

                Now, what was your post about again?

                1. Lol! I’m so happy for you — all good signs of a gentleman, which are hard to come by these days. As I’ve told my wife, I will always open doors for her, even if I have to jam my walker in front to keep it open. It’s more than a sign of respect; it’s a sign of appreciation — which should be a part of every good relationship.

                  Glad you are taking time to enjoy the scenery.

                  And before you say it, that doesn’t have anything to do with his booty…

                2. I haven’t seen that yet….his booty.
                  Well, only from behind..walking…and can I TELL YOU…not only is he fine from the front…he is FINE from the rear..I mean back. Even in surgicals. And you know it’s not that easy being green…but DANG…
                  I’m gonna play it safe for a long time. Hold out. For as long as I possibly can.
                  You men like that crap..right?

                  Tell me what y’all like …..

                3. On behalf of all men, I can tell you we like it when women are completely themselves, so we can be ourselves too, without emotional booby traps.

                  Oh, and we like boobies.

                4. “It’s more than a sign of respect; it’s a sign of appreciation — which should be a part of every good relationship.”

                  Beautifully stated, Ned. Geesh, I am never going to finish my post at this rate.

                5. Thanks, Victoria 😉 Being an appreciative person is, in my mind, the key to real happiness in all aspects of life — relationships, career, daily life. It keeps that sense of wonderment alive.

                  Oh, and really good coffee, too…

  4. Unless, of course, you happen to be in Home Depot or Canadian Tire! In this case, it is usually us gals doing the eye rolling & looking for the nearest exit to make a run for it! Looking at power tools & the various kinds of windshield washer fluid is exhausting!!!

    1. Lol! That’s a great point 🙂 I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective. My wife and I both do the eye rolling when we take our daughter shopping in the mall, but it’s mostly just to make sure we are keeping an eye on our wallets…

    1. I am fortunate enough to be married to a woman who is much the same way, so when we must go, we try to have fun.

      Usually at other people’s expense. They just don’t know it…

  5. Ned, remember when when you were a kid and you figured out that when it was your turn to do the dishes and you left a little something on a plate here or a bit of lippie on a cup there that eventually you earned the reputation of the worst dish washer in the world? And were banned from ever doing them again?? Mission accomplished, right?! I did that with shopping with my Queen…only took 6 months in the first year and 19 years later she still winces if I suggest I help with the shopping. GOOAALLLL! RED

  6. Well crap. I learned one thing from your post.
    I’m a man.
    How will I ever break that to my husband?

    GREAT post though! I’ve seen those dopamine-induced looks on my friends’ faces the few times they’ve dragged me along. They think I’m just missing a gene or something.

    Have a great Monday…I’m still stalling 🙂

    1. “I’ve seen those dopamine-induced looks on my friends’ faces.”

      OMG — Michelle, I can’t breathe. hahahahha

      I’ll tell you how much I shop. I haven’t bought a new outfit or shoes in well over a year. That doesn’t make me a man, however. 😉 I generally buy classic, timeless clothing — the kind that keeps on giving, year after year. I just ‘knew’ those skinny jeans would come back in style again. 😀

      1. OMG Victoria….now, I’m laughing! We are kindred spirits–nothing new (except for hot boots) in the last year.
        Every time my daughter talks me into skinny jeans, I have immediate wearer’s remorse. There are just some things runner’s thighs don’t fit into. Good idea on buying timeless, classic clothing. I can definitely sense that about you.

        And there you have it…after just spilling forth this little passage on Ned’s dime, it turns out that I really AM a girl after all 🙂

          1. My wife says I’d look good in them. I told her she’d look good in leather pants.

            We have effectively neutralized each other until someone makes a move… 😉

    2. Ha! Somehow, I don’t think your husband is going to complain. Like him, I’m married to a woman who can take or leave shopping. If we do have to shop, we always make it fun. One time, when the mall was packed, we just walked around the parking lot with our keys out, just to see how long people would follow us around with their cars… 😉

  7. Catching up to all your entries…

    Interesting post. My former wife would definitely scope out the sales, even to the point of having me stop off at some Mom & Pop fashion store and pick up a pair of 4 inch heels for her, which she would then proceed to place on a shelf in the closet, never to wear.

    I have had girlfriends who treated shopping like combat, in fact my mother is that way. Have a plan, state objective and execute. Very mercenary with Terminator-like efficiency.

    However, some women I have dated are like Magpies. If it’s shiny, with or without vividly contrasting colors, she’s got to have it. Later, she won’t know what to do with it. Also, that kind of shopping woman likes to wear what I call ‘ugly boots’. Those are the weird shoes that are half boot, half high heel and may or may not require lacing up.

    1. “Terminator-like efficiency” is a perfect way to put it. Even the line “I’ll be back” works in this scenario. And I have to say, I’m glad those types of women wear the “ugly boots” because it’s a red flag to all single men to beware!

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