The Christmas shopping frenzy is upon us, and I’m observing the usual gender division. The women are out in the malls snagging the perfect gift for everyone. The men are at home watching TV and telling themselves they have lots of time.
On Christmas Eve the tables will turn, and throngs of empty-eyed men will wander the mall ten minutes before closing, reeking of desperation and despair.
And at midnight outside a convenience store, two men will wrestle over the last pine-scented air freshener because it’s Christmas-tree-shaped and therefore vaguely appropriate as a Christmas gift, and they will ask themselves, “Why do women do this?”
Well, it’s like fishing.
If you’re starving and you have to catch a fish in order to survive, it’s not fun; it’s work.
But if you’re fishing for the fun of it, there’s no greater joy than being out on the lake just tossing in your line. You might not catch anything; you might catch and release; you might catch a tasty fish you’ll enjoy for supper that evening; or you might catch the biggest Holy-Shit-Look-At-The-Size-Of-That-Mother trophy fish of all time.
It doesn’t really matter. It’s all about the process. And the bragging rights. And your buddies. And the beer.
Some guys would happily go fishing every day, even though their freezer is full and they’ll probably end up throwing away some of the fish. Some women would happily go shopping every day, even though their closet is full and the clothes will probably be out of style before they get around to wearing them.
Recreational shopping is extremely similar to the actual process of fishing. We cruise the mall, dipping into the places where our quarry is most likely to lurk. But sometimes the shopping gods turn their backs, and there’s nothing worth buying despite our skill and patience (no catch).
Other times, we reel in lovely things that are perfect in every way, but we don’t buy (catch and release).
Sometimes, we choose to take that tasty item home.
And every now and then, we score the most amazing deeply-discounted, absolutely perfect article that will be discussed with awe among our peers forever more. The great grandmammy of bargains. The holy grail.
Like fishing, there’s much discussion of the one that got away. Right size, right price, wrong colour. Screaming deal, sublime colour, wrong size. The almost-perfection of the item increases with each telling, inspiring heartfelt commiseration from our buddies.
Here’s where the comparison begins to break down for me, though. Most women are just as happy in a crowded mall as most guys are out on the lake. I’m not. The act of shopping simply isn’t rewarding enough for me to put up with a crowd. I’ll pay for an item or I’ll engage in a fistfight for the item, but I refuse to do both. I suspect most guys feel the same.
But that problem could be easily solved.
What malls really need is beer. A mall-wide liquor permit, so you could wander around with a cold one in your hand. They could set up beer-and-snack kiosks here and there, and put nice little stands next to the changing rooms so you could put your beer down without fear of spillage when you went in to try on clothes.
With a reward like that, I bet even the guys would shop early and often.
Am I right?