It is the common wisdom that men, especially men of a certain generation, do not like to shop. In fact, a British survey of over 2,000 people found that men became bored after only 20 minutes of shopping, while women could go for a full two hours. This should come as a surprise to no one, at least not the people I know.
Recently, however, in sharp contradiction of the above findings, my husband has developed a timeless enthusiasm for browsing and purchasing. He’s like an explorer who has discovered a new world. And the natives call this new world Costco.
I suppose the three dozen pairs of sports socks spilling out of his drawer and the 64 oz. jar of mayonnaise in the pantry are really all my fault. I was the one who originally joined, although I can’t remember why, and brought my darling along as a secondary member. Little did I know I would be creating a card-carrying Shopzilla!
For several years, the little piece of plastic, complete with photo I.D., did sit, unused, in his wallet. The turn-around occurred after reading an article in The New York Times stating that Costco had very good value on hearing aids. Finally acknowledging that he did, in fact, have just a teeny bit of difficulty hearing, (either that, or I was developing a stutter, evidenced by the repetition of most of my utterances), he decided to find out for himself.
Releasing the card from his wallet for the very first time, he gained access to, not just hearing devices, but the 8th Wonder of the World, an enormous warehouse dispensing giant-sized products at discount prices. He was like Charlie let loose in the Chocolate Factory, as rewritten by AARP.
I knew I was in trouble when he returned from his first hearing test carrying the tallest bottle of vodka I had ever seen. “Were we entertaining the Russian Embassy?” I asked, making no effort to mask the sarcasm. He was unfazed and clearly triumphant. “Do you know what I paid for this? It was such a bargain.” Great,” I said. “I hope you saved enough to pay the carpenter to enlarge the liquor cabinet.”
On the next trip to Costco for the hearing aid fitting, my honey discovered that this seemingly cold and cavernous entity had a nurturing side. This was revealed to him as he ate his way through the store tasting food samples of every variety, culminating with the best hot dog with all the trimmings he had ever eaten. All this and a bottomless cup of diet soda for only $1.59. Imagine! He considered having dinner there the following night, but was disappointed to learn they didn’t take reservations.
Rushing home after his hearing aid adjustment trip, he couldn’t wait to tell me about his latest find. Costco sold books. Tables and tables of books. Best sellers at excellent prices. Judging by his level of excitement, I figured I had better call the carpenter again. We were definitely going to need more shelves.
His subsequent trips (was it my imagination, or did his hearing aids need an inordinate amount of adjustment) brought further exciting revelations. Cartons of paper towel and toilet tissue now filled my garage. “It isn’t food; it won’t spoil,” he rationalized. True, but would we actually live long enough to use all that paper? I could ask the same question about the socks.
The barbecued chicken he brought home for dinner one night looked like a GMO experiment gone haywire. I had no idea chickens grew that large. Did he forget the family wasn’t visiting for another two months? I had to admit, though, that this Amazonian fowl tasted good.
Other food items would follow. Packages of steaks now occupy my freezer, and in the frig, large containers of various spreads that could cater a wedding. These, I fear, will eventually spoil long before my grandkids are ready to walk down the aisle.
“Like these pants?” my husband asked the other day. He had just returned from yet another hearing aid recalibration. “Yes,” I replied, “and they fit well. “Costco,” he proudly exclaimed, as he tore up his credit card for Saks. “I think next time I go, I’ll get a few more pair.” Remind me to tell the carpenter that we need more closet space.
Like a true disciple, he has felt it a duty to spread the gospel. He has directed several of his friends to Costco’s hearing aid department, and in doing so, has exposed them to the bounty therein. It is not unusual to overhear a conversation between my husband and one of his cronies, as they fondle a giant-sized bottle of scotch, and discuss how much more it would have cost if they had shopped retail.
So move over to the slow lane, Seinfeld. Coffee can wait. Because husbands in cars going to Costco will not be stopped.
Footnote: For those of you not familiar with Jerry Seinfeld’s web show, I borrowed the title for this essay from his “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”