I wanted to buy a suit. Last week I noticed a good sale ad for one of the mall department stores, so I proposed to Sarah Ann that we go Saturday morning. We got to the mall shortly after 10; By 10:30, I had rummaged through the racks,
picked out the suit I wanted, tried it on, and paid for it. Done.
Shall we go home? No, Sarah is looking for skinny jeans, so being the patient and considerate spouse that I am, I happily consented. Why, she had borne patiently with me for the 20 minutes of my shopping, so why shouldn’t I return the favor?
Six or seven stores (really, I lost count) and an hour and a half later, she had no more skinny jeans to wear than she had before. The search was a complete flop. We left the mall and went on to the supermarket.
This episode is but an example of a propensity I’ve noted for women-as-shoppers for years. Both of the females in my household are much better store hoppers than store shoppers. If the question is “Which is more important? The journey or the destination?,” they would certainly say the journey, because they can travel from one store to the next for hours on end without buying a thing.
I’ve heard the anthropologists’ explanation: Men are hunters, women are gatherers. Hunting is a finite pursuit with a defined objective: you hunt, you find, you kill. Gathering is an open-ended pursuit: you hunt, you find, you keep looking to see if the next find is better than the last. Thus, women are imbued with a patience unknown to men. Likewise, men are imbued with objective determination unknown to women. It’s well that we don’t hunt for them, for we might kill them; and it’s better that they didn’t find us in their gathering, because once they’d have found us, they would have taken a look, sized up the shortcomings, and kept looking for the next.
How nice that we can be civil to one another, considering the alternatives!