The Men’s Survival Guide for the Mall!
Black Friday. The mall. You know the scenario. It’s an ugly scene, certainly not one for the timid or the meek. I see it every year, things that cause grown men to cringe in abject fear, that make brave men cower.
What am I talking about? The crowds? The sales? The pandemonium? I refer instead to the victims. I see them when I’m dragged to the mall….husbands wandering around aimlessly as their wives shop; staring at their watches, bored out of their skulls, wandering like listless zombies. Most are mere novices, rank amateurs untrained to protect themselves from flagrant abuse as this; snatched from the comfort of their recliners and HDTV’s to be thrust out into the harsh realities of the mall. Men have ways of broadcasting their plight that are only obvious to other men; you can call them Universal Distress Signals…signs include but are not limited to, fidgeting nervously, shifting from foot to foot, dragging their feet, dawdling along behind their spouse, loss of interest, moderate to severe depression, numbness, the thousand-yard-stare, to name a few.
Men, I feel your pain…therefore, as a public service, I’m going to divulge some of my survival tactics to get you through the crisis while she digs through the clothes rack yet again…or forages for another pair of shoes that don’t fit. Please pay attention, your sanity may depend on how well you employ these skills.
I must however warn you, these tactics must be closely guarded and may not at any time be allowed to fall into the hands of…the enemy. If you think she is starting to catch onto your ploy, immediately employ a diversionary tactic, such as…point and scream, “Oh, look! 75% off!” When she turns, dive beneath a clothes rack and remain motionless until danger passes. Another diversion may be, while feigning rage; “I can’t believe she’s wearing your outfit!” If nothing else, just ramble incoherently in your best Forest Gump imitation in an attempt to evoke empathy.
Let’s face it, the mall is no place for pansies when it comes to male survival skills. It’s a topsy-turvy world of estrogen-gone-amok; where women routinely pay exorbitant prices for tasteless articles of clothing designed by men with names you cannot pronounce. These items will be worn once, occupy space in her closet for a year, then given away in a garage sale for pennies on the dollar. I conjecture, rather than articles of clothing, these are the equivalent of…trophies; much like men proudly display severed heads of recently deceased deer on their walls. The dangers are abundant…navigating a veritable minefield fraught with peril: there’s manicures, perfumes, and hand lotions, testing out new perfumes on you, making you carry her purse in public, protracted public conversations with other wives about PMS. They may even attempt to engage you in a conversation about relationships. Beware! These are usually condensed from a one-hundred point article they digest line by line from magazines like Cosmopolitan on how to have a meaningful relationship. Do not underestimate your opponent! The girls train all year long for this…getting together to analyze and dissect these articles like an ESPN sports analyst. They do this, much like a bear sharpens its claws, so they can dissect you. It’s the psychoanalytical equivalent of a rectal exam by a sociopathic proctologist.
My advice is to avoid conversations at all costs! Do not be suckered in so easily…she is trying to draw you into a conflict. They do this frequently like the inevitable question, “Does this make my butt look huge?” That’s the verbal equivalent of her taking a sucker-punch at you! Or the dreaded, “my mother is spending the week…” announcement. My theory is they feel compelled to punish you for not sitting around the house in your undergarments with them, watching LIfetime Network and painting each other’s toe-nails while sharing details about their period; like they used to do with their girlfriends.
Do not be alarmed…women have been dragging their husbands along on protracted shopping excursions since the consummate temple of consumer greed, the mall, was first devised as an instrument of marital torture. You see, this is no mere ‘procure, purchase, and go-home’ venture but a secret female ritual closely guarded by women for centuries. If you manage to endure one of these hazings without inflicting permanent damage to your delicate male psyche and somehow return home with your sanity intact, you are a survivor of no small measure.
Men, let me put this to you bluntly…they are testing us. Many men have cracked under lesser forms of torture; some run off screaming, a few lose their masculinity, others crack under the stress and become delusional – -thinking they enjoy shopping with their wives, and some…never return at all.
One coping technique employed by men is ‘age-regression’, an integral part of the male psyche: it’s our inherent male construct, the primal state of mind of the male psyche; being able to revert back to that annoying ‘four-year old in church’ state of mind that has served us well when bored.
Until they wise up and institute a ‘Day-care for Husbands’ service at the mall, complete with ESPN, HDTV, junk food, and recliners, we must be prepared to resort to alternate methods of pain management. Steele yourselves! Desperate times call for desperate measures. This is where we separate the men from the boys! The scenario…you’re tired, six hours later she shows no signs of relenting…suddenly she’s got coupons! How do you entertain yourself? Reach deep within to find your inner child!
•Fake loud protracted imaginary conversations with yourself on your cell phone as you meander along from aisle to aisle.
One of my favorites, “No Mr. President! I don’t advise nuclear destruction as a first option…have you tried diplomacy yet? Maybe a tomahawk missile or two? Fine then, but if we get nuked, I am not bailing you out! What?!! What do you mean, someone accidentally pushed ‘the button’!!!”
Another one goes like this, “You tell George Clooney to get himself another agent if he won’t pay. No! Not a cent less than my usual 40 per cent or I walk!”
Or, “That’s right! I said, buy this mall!” (occasionally make eye contact with startled patrons). “What do you mean, it’s not for sale! Offer them another 40 million or you can find yourself a new job!”
As a matter of note, purchasing a pair of thick-rimmed glasses at the novelty store makes a great prop, if you really want to sell the part, pick out a loud sweater vest and throw in some fake ‘bling’ to play the part of the agent!
•Play Hide & Seek with the guy wearing those neon yellow pants.
There’s always one guy at the mall wearing some hideous pants that normal men wouldn’t be caught dead in. He’s probably the one whose mother used to dress him, you remember the effeminate guy that always liked math. Every time you see him or get remotely close; scream and run the other way to hide. After he leaves, pop up out from behind a mannequin and scream, “Ollie, Ollie, All in Free!”
•Tag, You’re It!!
There are plenty of other bored husbands around so you can chase each other around the mall like kids at recess. Pretending to be a ninja is optional. Nerf guns inject a feeling of realism into the game!
and, if all else fails…
You’ve got a cell phone with a camera, right? Pursue random people: start out with stalking your designated victim and take pictures as they flee. Pop out from behind kiosks and clothes racks to take candid shots of ‘imaginary’ celebrity-look-a-likes. The key is to be really annoying and obnoxious. Post them to Facebook. If the mall cops don’t throw you out, you will have loads of fun. Getting pepper-sprayed in the process is bonus points!
Try no to be too painfully obvious that you’re bored…there will probably be repurcussions later. Be prepared to sleep on the couch tonight…and don’t expect to see her any time soon sporting that hot new Victoria’s’ Secret negligee she bought this afternoon.
Well, that’s it. You’re pretty much on your own from here. I think I’ve done all I can do!
Seriously. I had never thought of shopping as a full-contact sport before. TWEEEEET! UNNECESSARY ROUGHNESS IN THE CHECKOUT LINE!