On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 representing least likely to be overheard, and 10 representing most likely, how would you rate the following query: “Hello, Irving, this is Sidney. How would you like to meet for lunch and then go shopping?”
Off the chart on the low end, I would suspect. But what if we substitute Carole and Jean for Irving and Sidney? I can hear the door slam as Carole heads for her car to rendezvous with Jean at the food court.
Women love to shop. Men? Not so much. Yes, there are a few of us who claim to hate it, and flaunt a sense of superiority at being less frivolous than the rest. But dangle the temptation of a 50% off sale at a trendy boutique, and let’s see who’s the first to hail a cab.
This trait is nothing to be ashamed of. I would even go out on a limb and suggest that woman’s love of shopping is a biological imperative; a vestige left over from more primitive times when men were hunters, and women were gatherers.
If we examine the act of gathering, we will see many parallels with modern-day shopping. Women would leave their village in groups, chatting and socializing, and go into the forest or jungle in search of the best edible plants. There they would part grasses, push back branches, take their time, go from tree to tree, examining, checking, until they were satisfied with what they placed in their baskets. And feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when they returned to their huts with their bounty.
We need not analyze too deeply to see how this translates to a trip to Saks with a friend. And, while we are no longer required to part grasses and push back branches, the motor memory of these actions surely enables us to deftly part hangers on pipe racks.
Men, on the other hand, often stalked their prey alone, and in silence. This highly focused pursuit is perhaps why men buy, but women shop.
A man might go into a store if they need something, like a pair of socks or a new shirt. They will spot their targeted item, buy it, and leave. Women love to take their time and browse, looking here and there, lifting a sweater off the table to see if there’s a better one underneath. The modern-day equivalent of foraging, I suspect.
And, women tend to shop whether they need something or not. In fact, if you are fortunate enough to have some disposable income, “need” is a four-letter word. It has little to do with the experience.
Women who are true recreational shoppers (and that is most of us) find it very hard to resist the lure of the fashion outlet mall. It beckons to us like a siren’s song. The anticipation of finding a deal at a high end store produces something akin to an adrenaline rush.
Besides feeling like you’ve discovered the Holy Grail, a bargain also comes with bragging rights. “Did you know that this blouse originally sold for $500, but I paid only $75? And if I don’t raise my arm more than three inches, no one will even see the little tear on the right side.”
Do we really believe all those claims about original prices, and the five subsequent markdowns that appear on the tag? Not really, but why spoil the fun?
And what about the fact that this was last year’s dress? So what? Was last year so bad?
Truth be told, a good deal of what is sold at outlets like Saks Off Fifth, Barney’s, and other high end retail shops are not the real thing, but goods made for discounting. But among the inferior merchandise, are the authentic deals waiting to be discovered by the sharpest among us who have honed our skills in the forest. There is treasure among the trash, and that’s what keeps us coming back.
As for me, I will shop ‘til I drop. Or as long as the stamina holds out and I continue to believe that trying on clothing for several hours burns as many calories as the treadmill.
And in the end, who really knows what the afterlife holds? I’m not sure if there are shopping malls in heaven.
But in the event that there are, and I decide to be cremated, please scatter my ashes in Neiman Marcus Last Call.