Shopping, A Retrospective

>> Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Once upon a time, a long time ago, a man took his family shopping. He was an ordinary man, with an ordinary family, living in an ordinary small town. (Well, it was an ordinary small town if you didn't consider all the old-fashioned farmers with religious objections to electricity and modern conveniences such as cars and daily bathing and yet had no concerns with shopping malls. But, I digress.) The other members of this man's family consisted of a wife and three daughters. Two of them were adolescents, and one of them was a preschooler.

The year was 1970-something, and Al Gore had not yet invented the internet, so there was no realistic way to compare prices before leaving the house. Black Friday hadn't yet caught on to be the shopping phenomenon we all know today, so the weekend store flyers just weren't all that helpful.

Now, modern social experimentation will tell you that woman are "gatherers" when they shop, tending to browse and "graze" if you will, while men are "hunters" going quickly for what they want and leaving as soon as the mission is accomplished, with little or no loitering.

Modern social experimentation never met this man.

This man was born to find a bargain.

This man didn't merely hunt his prey, dispatch it, and bring it home. No. He first took out a biological surveying expedition to find the premium prey at the optimum price before producing any hunting implements. This man could take a 10 minute hunting party and turn it into a 2 week National Geographic Special on wildlife habitat.

Put in terms that you might relate to, this man could not buy a pair of shoes without making sure that no other store in the entire tri-state area had shoes the same or similar enough at a cheaper price. And, once he was on a quest for said shoes, there was no stopping him until the shoes were in the trunk of the car, at the best deal anywhere in 5 counties. Very likely, nothing else was in the trunk by the time the shoes rode home with the family, because on an expedition like this, there is only time enough for one kill.

If the prey was clothing, the man would leave his wife and/or child in the dressing room, trying on outfits, while he brought back piles and piles of options to sling over the dressing room door until said family member cried out for deliverance. (Keep in mind that any succesful "try on" needed to be verified, and prices compared, at all other department stores before any purchases could be made.)

Eventually, the man had to make a deal with his wife -- the hunting party was limited to one shopping mall only, and no one but the man was required to walk back and forth across said mall more than 3 times. Also, no person was required to sit in any dressing room in any one department store for more than one hour. Legend has it that the wife threatened to sit on the curb and not move again if this deal was broken.

Unfortunately for said wife, this family lived near the "largest shopping mall under one roof on the East Coast." While this little statistic is meaningless by itself, it translates to a mall large enough to comfortably hold four anchor stores and an ice skating rink (or 5 anchor stores and a food court, in later decades). A "quick trip to the mall" was an all day event in comparison shopping and sore feet.

This mall was surrounded by countryside and parkland, so there was no one to hear cries for help from exhausted families being run ragged looking for the best, cheapest, most efficient purchase. Passers-by, if they were listen, would have heard from this family such lovely refrains as:

"Pick me up and carry me! My feet hurt!"

"Not until they pick me up and carry me first."

To the very best of my knowledge, this man is the only man ever to have existed on the planet in the entire history of humankind to take an ordinary family of women and girls and make them beg to not have to go shopping.

This man was real. These shopping trips were real.

When this man passed away, he left behind quite a shopping legacy. He had a wife who hated shopping and would not even say the word. He had a daughter who would eventually give new meaning to "shop 'till you drop". Another of his daughters developed an uncanny ability to walk for hours in shoes that would fell runway models.

He also had a grandson who preferred shopping even more than watching Mickey Mouse ... especially if there was a little green shopping cart involved.

I fear for the future.


Susan December 2, 2009 at 6:08 PM  

That's too funny Karin! Makes me want to rush out Christmas shopping....NOT! I'm curious which daughter is you. Hmmmm.

Karin December 8, 2009 at 6:01 PM  

My sisters would have me lie on this one, but I would be the preschooler. I'm neither shopping obsessed, nor do I have feet of steel. I'm not sure what my hangup is, there are so many to choose from.

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