The Male Shopper

I recently received one of those forwarded e-mails concerning how much easier life is for men than women. The list must have contained 25-odd examples, but the one that stood above the rest went something like: “Men can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24th in 25 minutes.”  

A truer statement has never been made. 

It has always amazed me that men routinely wait until the last possible second to shop, year after year, holiday after holiday. And they keep getting away with it! Now, I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule - those who make nice, organized lists of gifts, purchase and wrap them before Thanksgiving. However, back in the real world, the fact is that Christmas is one of the few occasions when men are left to their own devices and forced to shop on their own…and we all know what that means.

One of two things happens when men make their one trip to the store each year – they either, #1) pick out something “useful” like an appliance – toaster, vacuum, the big-screen TV they always wanted; or, #2) buy everything in sight to make up for their lack of shopping prowess during the rest of the year.

Once the purchases are made, there’s then the small matter of gift-wrapping left to be done. That’s a trip-and-a-half in itself. Some men don’t even attempt the impossible and instead settle for a large bow on its own; others give it a whirl and wind up with a mass of crumpled wrapping paper, covered in tape, with only about 75% of the box actually wrapped. It’s a talent, to be sure.

I used to think it was just my father who waited until Christmas Eve to shop, until I joined him one year and witnessed firsthand the wall-to-wall lines of men with a similar problem – how to complete all their shopping and still make it home in time for dinner; a tough task, to be sure, but one most men have thoroughly mastered after years of practice.

I used to get a small taste of this spectacle when I worked in a flower shop, mainly on Valentine’s Day, when hoards of men would line up at the counter at around 5 o’clock, scrounging for every last available rose…anything resembling a flower. At the time, as the line stretched through the store and out the front entrance, the men growing more desperate with each passing sale, I was mildly amused by the whole thing, amazed by how accurate the stereotypes really were. But, rest assured, Christmas takes male procrastination to a whole new level entirely.

So, this Christmas Eve, if you happen to be out doing some last minute shopping, don’t stress out – those men standing on line next to you are just getting started.

Plus, they still have to wrap.


{Published: December 21st, 2005}

Jamie Lynn RyanComment