The standard or stereotypical shopping method for men is that they decide what they want BEFORE they go into the store. When they arrive at the store, they find what they want as quickly as possible, pay for it, and leave immediately.
The standard or stereotypical method for women is that they decide what they want AT the store. They therefore spend more time in the store itself, and shopping also often becomes a social event.
When we arrived at the mall, Darwin directed me to head for Sears. "They have my size in dress shirts," he said. "I can get them there."
Usually I'm agreement with this method. However, in today's case, I didn't need dress shirts. I needed overshirts--fleeces or sweaters or heavy shirts with a dressy look that I can wear in my classroom. The heating system at Nameless High School is breaking down, and my room starts out freezing in the morning, and is roasting hot by the end of the day, so I have to dress in layers. It's tricky to find stuff that is both functional in these circumstances and also looks decent. I literally can't wear a dress shirt with a t-shirt under it, for example. I'll freeze until sometime after lunch. But I don't like most sweaters, either--the texturing is uncomfortable and prickly. This means, unfortunately, that I have to go hunting for what will work.
"I have to shop like a woman today," I told him, and Darwin groaned.
True to form, Darwin headed straight for the dress shirt display at Sears and pulled five of them in his size. Done! I wandered about the store, examining and rejecting, until I found some heavy dress-ish shirts that would work for me and snagged a couple of them. Cool!
"Are we done?" Darwin said.
"You have five shirts, I have two," I said. "Into the mall!"
And Darwin groaned.
We went here and there throughout the mall. I was mostly looking for fleeces and sweaters, but the only sweaters I could find were thin, thin, thin! I needed something with a little more heft. My classroom is COLD.
I pulled Darwin into Buckle, but the store was too young for my demographic. "We'll have to remember this place when we're Christmas shopping for Sasha," I said.
I also noticed how Twelve Oaks Mall has gotten rid of their loud, annoying fountains and hard benches and replaced them with lounging areas stuffed with comfortable chairs and couches. The hard benches are gone. I observed aloud to Darwin how mall philosophy has changed. The hard benches and loud fountains were designed to keep people moving. But now mall designers have realized that people who stop to rest on comfy chairs are likely to shop longer (duh), and that fountains are damned expensive to maintain. Off with their heads!
Darwin noticed several men who were lounging on said comfy chairs while I was dragging him into several stores. "Can I sit there with those husbands whose wives are shopping?" he complained.
"Am I your wife?" I shot back. "Several studies showed that women spend the least amount of time in a mall store when they have a male companion with them. They'll spend more time in a store with a small child in tow than they will with a man. A psychologist urged stores to put a man cave in the corner to occupy the men and let the women shop--and spend money. The stores that did saw their sales rise, but corporate ultimately made them get rid of the man caves because they didn't like losing the retail space. A clear case of corporate stupidity. These stores don't have man caves in them, so you'll have to suffer."
A sales clerk overheard me, and chimed in. "I see that all the time!" she said. "We should have a man corner so the women will shop. It would totally help!"
We tried Macy's, but I ended up fleeing the store. It looked like a bomb went off in the men's department. The clothing racks were a mass of unfolded slacks and flipped-around shirts and other messy, pawed-over cloth. It was awful! No clerks were in evidence even trying to recover the merchandise. Meanwhile, in the makeup and perfume department we passed through, there were dozens of clerks behind well-lit counters panting to wait on people. They needed to move some of them into clothing. You could see where Macy's figured the money was. We left. If a place won't take care of its stuff when it's on the floor, what the hell are they trying sell me? No.
Lord and Taylor's selection ranged from Old Fogey to I'M TWELVE AND LOVING IT! with nothing in between. And everything was $100 or more. We left.
On impulse--and because Darwin liked the way it smelled--we ducked into Abercrombie & Fitch. I didn't have high hopes. But to my surprise, I found a great, non-textured sweater and two heavy dress-ish shirts that were exactly what I needed. Who knew?
And then we had supper in the food court, because I can get the quasi-Asian food I like, and Darwin can get the soup he likes.
On the way out, I said, "There's one more store I want to hit," and Darwin said he didn't slug me only because he loved me.