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Viva la Difference
By John Hunt

It has been said that women are "process oriented," while men are "task oriented." In other words, women are fastidious organizers, while men, on the other hand, cut right to the chase to get the job done Ė even if this means forsaking all logic to do so.

Case in point is shopping. While there is the rare exception, shopping is by and large a womanís sport. Men simply lack the killer instincts required for the matriarchal processes of mercantile warfare. And quite frankly, weíre better off not knowing what goes on in the dark recesses of a discount store.

I have a theory that there is a shopping gene that only manifests itself when two x-chromosomes are present. In other words, it is inherently part of the female makeup. For instance, every female member of my family loves to shop, from my wife right down to my eighteen-month old daughter. My wife will busy herself, elbowing her way to the clearance rack, while my oldest daughter skips giddily from store to store and my eighteen-month old blissfully gazes from her stroller in wonderment. Of course, the allure is completely lost to my son and me. It is difficult to be excited about the whole grueling process when being dragged about the mall like a couple of beasts of burdens. But that is another story altogether.

Perhaps the difference really lies in the presuppositions that men and women have about shopping. By presuppositions, I mean preconceived notions. By preconceived notions, I mean irrational preoccupation with red-ticket items. I liken shopping to getting a shot from your doctor. Although it is necessary, it is a pain in the Ė well, you know where Ė so itís best done quickly to get it over with.

In fact, I ascribe to the School of Speed Shopping (you can even say that Iím the valedictorian, or poster child). The driving theory behind this method is "Bag The Blouse." If your wife needs a new blouse, stride purposefully to the nearest store, pick up the ugliest blouse on the rack, then purchase it and leave. This is an excellent way to make sure she will never ask you to go shopping again.

It is therefore little wonder that Iíve set world speed records in shopping. Iíve found that I possess the innate ability to run into a store, pick out a shirt, pants, and shoes, and be out before my wife even puts the van into "park." Never mind that the clothes are all the wrong size and the colors donít match, that is entirely beside the point.

My wifeís shopping safaris, on the other hand, last longer than the average triathlon. I have mowed the grass, changed the oil and painted the house in less time than it takes her to find the perfect dress at the perfect price.

And it must be the perfect price, for any Power Shopper worth her salt will tell you that her trading must be profitable. And when it comes to power shopping, I have to admit that my wife does know what sheís doing. For example, her most recent conquests include a blouse that was (allegedly) originally over $50 that she got for less than $15, various kids clothes that were marked way, way down at the end of the season, and a bunch of Scrunchies for a ridiculously low price (Iím not sure what a Scrunchie is, but I do know that she got a good deal on them). This sure beats the Big Mouth Billy Bass that I got on clearance for five bucks.

In essence, you can say that we all have gifts and talents that we bring into a marriage. The Bible says, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24, NIV)

Marriage is kind of like Godís parliamentary checks-and-balances. Without men, women might find themselves living in malls, surviving on mini-corndogs and $10 lattes; and without women, we men would have no clothes that fit or match.

Perhaps this Valentineís Day, we should celebrate the wonderful differences that we each bring to our marriage, and the separateness that makes us complete. And men, be thankful that she didnít let you buy that polyester leisure suit that was 75% off.
John Hunt is a freelance writer and professional short-distance shopping sprinter living near Chicago, Illinois. He is somehow tolerated by his wife of ten years and three children.


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