Saturday, October 10, 2009

How men shop.

I went to the grocery store today. Not by choice, mind you. The idea was to hit the library; I had a few things on hold and a couple that needed to be returned (i.e. overdue). The library is actually a treat for me. I'm a voracious reader and love movies as well. Considering I'm not into sports, gambling, dating or anything else associated with the average male, the library is where I want to be.

Considering I am raising and homeschooling two autistic sons, the peace and quiet of the Columbus Library is nirvana for me. So, when my wife suggested I spend a little time there today, I jumped at the chance. It was only after I had showered, made breakfast for everyone, gotten dressed, had on my shoes with one hand on the doorknob that Mrs. Write ensnared me. "Can you stop at the store and pick up a couple things?"

My heart sank. First, I hate the grocery store. I'd rather clean the cat's litter box* than shop for anything. Second, my wife has a rather subjective idea of "a few things". As suspected, she handed me a list, a wad of cash, the credit card and a stack of coupons. I actually ended up spending three times as long at Giant Eagle (or "Jaunt Iggle" for my friends in Pittsburgh, and "Roc" for my old AD&D group) than at the library.

There were nine things on the list, including toilet paper and all the candy for trick-or-treaters this Halloween. You know, "a couple of things," Plus, I had to pay part of it in cash and part with the credit card (don't ask), and hand a small stack of coupons to the cashier. Oh, and did I mention that Mrs. Write, who has a mind like a calculator, figured out that the candy bars in the checkout lanes going for 2/$.99 were actually cheaper than the bags of candy, per ounce. Meaning I had to park the cart in an unused lane and pick out 100 candy bars ("At least four different kinds," as per instructions). During this, customers kept queueing up behind me, thinking the lane was open, despite the sign being turned off and the "This Lane Closed" sign prominently displayed on the conveyor belt. Not to mention the odd looks and suspicious glances from the employees. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I am a large and hairy man, the kind from which women tend to shelter their children.

Bear I mind, I'm no monster or predator. On the whole, I'm a quiet, thoughtful person who loves his family and thinks kittens are cute. It takes a lot to raise my ire, and that only if my family is threatened. But, I LOOK like a psychopath. After having my picture taken for my first college I.D., my friend Brian looked over my shoulder and said: "Hey, you look like a rapist!" Everyone came over to look, and the general consensus amongst a group of people I barely knew or hadn't yet met, was that my picture belonged on America's Most Wanted. The hell of it was, they were right.

Anywho, back on track. So, I spent a long period of time at the grocery store today, most of it in a rush because, on top of everything else, I was instructed to be home by noon as Mrs. Write had errands to run. *sigh* So, armed with a foul temper and time in an institution I abhor, I took to observing people around me to relieve stress. Something I've noticed before yet still never fails to amaze me, is how the average man shops for groceries.

Have you ever noticed that men absolutely refuse to use a shopping cart unless forced to by their spouse? I've never understood the reason for this. Is he afraid of looking feminine by pushing a shopping cart? You'll see some guy trying to carry eleven items, including a case of beer and four bags of chips, using only his hands and a lack of comprehension for the law of gravity. Or physics. To this individual: you don't look manly just because you used your big, hairy hands instead of a cart. You just look stupid. And don't get me started on the basket. A guy would rather circumcise himself (or, worse, sit through a "Sex and the City" marathon... *shudder*) than even acknowledge the grocery baskets exist.

Secondly, coupons. Why the hate for coupons? This isn't regulated to men only, but they are the more verbal opponents of those little, innocuous slips of paper. I'll be checking out five items and paying in cash, while some guy behind me, trying to fit 37 items on the conveyor (in the 12 Items or Less lane), while simultaneously talking loudly on his cell phone about all the hot wings he ate last night and how he had diarrhea for hours afterward. Then, when I hand the cashier a couple of coupons, this guy has the audacity to sigh loudly and comment on it to his cell phone buddy. Look, this isn't the 1970's. The cashier can scan the coupons as fast as he could scan your Preparation H. It will take all of fifteen seconds, max, to run my coupons through, but I'll save five bucks or more. And where do you have to be, really?

You get the same reaction to credit cards. Why the hate? It's not like the cash register jockey is going to haul out that old monstrosity with the carbon paper, you know, the one that looks like a miniature meat slicer? I run the card through the card reader (oooh, technology scary), punch in my PIN, and we're done. Hell, half the time it's faster than cash.

Lastly, the actual shopping. I hate the grocery store (granted, not as much as a clothing store, but there's enough material there for another post), but at least I do it right. Most guys go in without a list, even if their spouse wrote one up for them. Sorry, but I'd rather do it right the first time. When you go to the store with the instructions to pick up some food and drinks for dinner, and come back with a case of mac n' cheese and a case of Miller Light, she's just going to send you out again. You know it, I know it, and she knows it. Your ploy won't work. Looking incompetent will not get you out of shopping. Shell just make you do it twice.

Trust me on this. I know. So get ti right the first time. And use a cart for chrissakes, you look like a doofus.

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