Mary Anne and I weren't always married, though it seems like it after 20+ years. I still had a lot to learn about women when she and I first got married. One of those things I had to learn was how women had an entirely different methodology for shopping than men.
I found it best to think about it in terms of our hunter-gatherer ancestry. Men were the hunters; the first thing we saw that could provide the necessary meat for the tribe was the first thing we stabbed to death and brought home. We knew the general locations where those meals on legs could be found, so we just went there, waited for them to show up, go Stone Age on their asses, and then, VOILA, lunchtime.
Men today shop the same way, except huge discount stores make it so much easier to spot that button-down oxford shirt, sneak up on it, spear it, and drag it back to our caves.
Women? That's a whole different game. One that men will never understand, except to note it somehow evolved from jabbering at each other while wandering among groves of fruit trees.
As an example of what happens when these worlds collide, I present an account of my first married shopping trip with Mary Anne:
8:00 a.m., one peaceful Saturday morning.
The birds are singing, the sun is beaming its yellowy goodness into every nook and cranny, the butterflies are flitting about on gossamer wings, and everything is right in the world.
Mary Anne and I are enjoying a delicious breakfast at our favorite pancake house (they have home fries that are better than having wild Discovery-Channel sex with Catherine Zeta-Jones. And Debra Messing. At the same time. On a bed of hundred-dollar bills.).
Mary Anne: Ooooo, these home fries are soooo goooooood.
Me: Yeaaaaaaaah... (pause) Do you have any hundred-dollar bills?
Mary Anne: (confused) Uhhhhh, no. (shrugs it off) Oh, honey, I need a new handbag; my old one is, well, old. Maybe we can go get one after breakfast. Doesn't that sound like fun, Poochykins?
Me: Sure! Sounds great, Sweetie Pie Sugar Lumps. What kind of handbag do you want?
Mary Anne: Ohhh, I think I'd like a black leather one, kinda small. It doesn't need to be too expensive though. I've gotten expensive ones before, but they don't last any longer than the cheaper ones.
Me: (breaking out into a grin thinking about wonderful it is to have a frugal, practical spouse) Marvelous! Let's get going. We can get the handbag and be home in a jiffy! Isn't that right, Honey Bunny?
Mary Anne: (stony silence)
Darks clouds begin to form on the horizon, too far away to impact the cheeriness of the day. Yet.
We pull up into the parking lot of the first store and go inside to begin what I failed to realize would be an arduous quest.
Mary Anne: MoochyLoochykins, could you help me shop for a handbag?
(Somehow, it turns dark, lightning flashes, and thunder crackles behind her as she speaks these words, even though we're inside, under hellishly bright flourescent lights)
Me: Uhhhhhhhhh... uhhhhh... sure... I think... Did you just see some... lightning... and hear some... thunder? And did it just turn really dark for a second or two?
Mary Anne: Why, no, SillyBillykins, we're in a store! And besides, it's a beautiful day outside! Isn't it great?!
Me: (becoming apprehensive) Uhhhh... yeah... yeah... it's just.. great... Sweetie Petey... hehe.
I stumble away dazed, and find the handbag section. There, sitting on the shelf, right in front of my eyes, is a small black leather handbag for $30. Not quite ten minutes into the quest, and I've already found the very thing she's looking for. SCORE! I bring it back to show her, so we can buy it, go home, and lounge around naked for the rest of the day.
Me: HEY BABYSWEETIE, LOOK AT WHAT I FOUND! Just what you asked for!
Mary Anne: (looks at the handbag, squinting) Ummmmmmm... ummmmm....
Mary Anne: Ummmmmmm... (squints some more at the handbag)
Me: What is it? Are you trying to use some sort of goddamn X-ray vision on it or what? IT'S THE HANDBAG YOU SAID YOU WANTED! I FOUND IT! LET'S BUY IT AND GO HOME!
Mary Anne: Ummmm.... It's not exactly what I'm looking for. (turns away to look at other handbags)
Me: (standing flabbergasted, with mouth agape)
The dark clouds grow and begin to choke the life out of the once-happy sun. Plants start to discolor, wither, and die.
We move on to another store across town. We repeat the same futile dance.
Third store. The sky has become black and bloated, like a plague-ridden corpse.
The sickening pet names disappear. I find several small, inexpensive leather handbags, only to have them cruelly vetoed. I mutter horrid, vile curses under my breath, wishing for every living entity within several square miles to be obliterated. Painfully.
Vultures have begun to slowly circle above, anticipating the bloody feast from the impending doom.
My wife suggests, for some reason known only to Buddha, Allah, Vishnu, and the Three Stooges that we go back to the store where we started.
Me: (demonically growling) WHY HAVE WE COME BACK HERE? WHAT FOR DO YOU TORTURE ME SO, SHE-BEAST?!
Mary Anne: Well, I thought... Oooooo, look! (grabs a handbag off of the shelf)
She holds in her hand a large cloth handbag. It costs $95.
Me: BUT... BUT... BUT...
Mary Anne: It's perrrrrrrrrrrrrfect!
Me: BUT BUT BUT... IT'S NOT WHAT YOU DESCRIBED!
Mary Anne: But it's what I want!
Me: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! OH GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?!?!
Four mysterious, terrible horsemen swoop down from the blackened heavens...