Men are from NAPA, women are from Macy’s

image There are thousands of books offering insights into the male/female dynamic. Coincidentally, these books are generally located next to the section labeled “divorced/end-of-relationship” section. If you want to observe the true difference between men and women at its purest form, without a divorce attorney present, simply study their shopping habits.

With the holiday buying season now officially underway, 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 yards of the exit.




(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation and a member of the writing team at Long Awkward Pause. This has been an excerpt from his book, Humor at the Speed of Life, available from Port Hole Publications, or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

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...

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

  1. Ha! I generally hate shopping and Saturday i bought a new coat 80% off and some cute but functional boots (before you say yah right, keep in mind that i have one pair of shoes). That said, I temporarily displaced a gentleman who was sitting on the shoe bench thing. I told him he could have it back in 5 minutes. I saw the look of doubt in his eyes and added, “cross my heart”…and I didn’t mean the bra.

    1. If you’d meant the bra, he may not have left. Either way, sounds like a great find. I actually delved into shopping Friday and also got a pair of boots (only 50% off, but…) I’m guessing they weren’t like yours, though. Cross my heart…

  2. Ha! Very cute. Hubby has recently taken to shopping, or at least he seems to enjoy walking around indoors where it’s warm and spending time with me. The rest is quite true however, one eye on the exit, a blank stare, and wondering what we’re doing there. 😉

  3. Trying on everything within arms reach of the fitting room happens to be very efficient, I will have you know. My husband is a shopper too – though a man with purpose – and he is always commandeering the shopping cart. And, I am often the dazed spouse staring into space while he wheels through aisles. However, I will say that I have used that time wisely to observe humans and compose entire blog posts in my head. Thanks for the morning giggle. 🙂

    1. I have to admit, I don’t totally hate shopping, as long as I’m with my wife. We actually have fun together laughing at the crazy people. Sometimes those people are staring back at us from a mirror in the dressing room, but still…

  4. You SO nailed it, Ned!! Shopping with my husband is horrible. We enter the store, he scans, does a quick lap and declares that he is done all before I can stop hyperventilating from the anticipation and excitement of the mad amounts of browsing to be done! I typically put everything of interest in the cart and end up not taking half of it once I get to the register. Thank goodness for online shopping! Thanks for the laugh. 🙂

  5. I must have a man’s brain when it comes to shopping! I HATE to shop! I make a list… go to the store, find what I need, check out and then leave! I can do a Sams run in 15 minutes and that includes checking out! LOL! Hubby??? Well, he likes to browse… even at Sams and the grocery store! Ugh.. He is not allowed to go “shopping” with me! 😛

  6. I read things like this and I understand why people have called me a guy-girl. I really don’t enjoy shopping. I go with something in mind,buy it, then go home.
    The only store I get to dawdling in is the grocery store. I fantasize about recipes i want to try and end up getting more than my list.

      1. Will you write about it in your blog? I just don’t have that many interesting things happen to me, and a fight in the produce section would be awesome!

        Basil….cilantro is icky

  7. Would love to get access to closed-circuit footage from a major department store and then have Sir Richard Attenborough or Peter Coyote do a voiceover as though presenting a National Geographic/PBS wildlife documentary.

    “As the female dik-dik searches the nooks and crannies for hidden treasures that will maintain her growing brood for another winter, her dik-dik of a husband shuffles nervously from foot to foot, always vigilant, always fearful of missing the opening dik-dik kick-off.”

    1. All this timeI thought my 8th-grade teacher who stuttered was calling me something bad all these years. Now I know calling me a “dik-dik” was just a pet name!

  8. I loathe shopping.
    I get my tee shirts at Hot Topic (obviously). The rest is kamikaze-punk style shopping.
    I see something in a store window and get it in black, size small.

    1. That’s exactly how I plan to survive the zombie apocalypse, by pointing at a hord of zombies and yelling “SALE!” then running the other way as my fellow survivors rush for a bargain.

  9. Ned, you never disappoint! This is so true but I am not a typical woman shopper. In fact, you know what I want for CHRISTMAS??? YOUR BOOK! (and later when we meet in person, I’d love for you to sign it.) You continue to intrigue and inspire ME so much! Can I admit that you are one of my idols? Thank you~MOOOAH!

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