Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Hunters and Gatherers

We're talking over on DovBear's site--sorry, my hyperlink ability is still shaky--about Dennis Prager's dubious view of women. On a related note, the Balabusta and the boyfriend went out into the night to get pizza, since the Balabusta managed a beautiful chicken stew in apricot sauce last night, but has a headache tonight and cannot think about cooking.

We stopped on the way at Barnes and Noble, and the Balabusta wandered for a while. As we headed out, the boyfriend promised that soon we would return, and I would be allowed to run barefoot through the books "picking them up, and looking through them, and putting them down for no apparent reason".

"Don't you ever browse?" asked I.

"I usually go in knowing what I want," he said. "It's a hunter thing."

I have this theory, which I've shared with him, about the real core differences between men and women being based in a hunter-gatherer split. I do not know enough about early human development to have any idea if this is even possibly scientific, just that it seems to explain certain patterns in shopping to me.

The theory was born out of a phone call with the Balabusta's mother a couple of years ago. Apparently the Balabusta's father had mentioned he needed a new belt, and there was a sale on at Mervyns'. The Bluejeanses Sr. went to Mervyns', where my dad riffled through a couple of belts, and selected one. "Where do you want to have lunch?" he asked.

"Don't you want to look at the other belts?" my mother demanded. He didn't. He wanted a reversible black/brown belt to wear to work. He'd found one. It was time to eat.

The theory I produced is this: men shop like hunters. You want an antelope. You look for an antelope. You kill the antelope. If you dither around looking for a better antelope, you may not get an antelope at all.

Women shop like gatherers. You can only carry so much back to the cave, so you choose carefully. You look around to see if something new has grown, or if the stuff you liked last time has new fruits or sprouts. And you look CAREFULLY at each thing you select, because if you don't look CAREFULLY, you could poison the whole tribe.

It's a flawed theory, but it helps put in perpective the boyfriend's tendency to regard a pleasant trip to the grocery store as something akin to Iwo Jima. He runs up and down the aisles, throwing stuff into the cart and occasionally developing strategic zig-zags if it looks as though we might be slowed down. A pause to examine produce makes him nervous.

And bookstores are for BROWSING. If I knew what I wanted, I would order a used one online!


Anonymous said...
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Sweettooth120 said...

If Defending the Caveman ever comes your way...definitely go and see it. It's must see for any couple.

Mirty said...

Great description! Your guy shops just like my husband does. Grocery shopping with him is this fast sprint through the store, throwing boxes in the cart. When I shop for groceries I take my time. Then I come home and I say things like, "Look at this zucchini. It's beautiful!"

Little Wolf said...

1. If you had a headache, why didn't boyfriend make dinner. (That is about the only time my wife cooks. Although in her defense, I really like to cook and she doesn't)

2. The basis of your theory is quite sound and actually explains many of the basic differences between how men and women think. That having been said, some of it is also environmental. I was raised more or less exclusively by my mother since my father died when I was young. As a result I can shop either way, though I prefer to browse more on my own than if I am with someone else. My wife on the other had tends to be the opposite, she will tend to browse much more if I am with her than if she goes shopping on her own.

3. The grocery shopping is actually an interesting problem. My wife doesn't really cook, so I have no idea what kind of grocery shopper she is, but if I have a list I shop like by going exactly where the items are. (I know the grocery store very well as I worked in it for nearly a year) But if I go shopping with out a list I will take my time going up and down lanes of food. (I do get upset though I try not to show it when I get held up in a lane.)

Barefoot Jewess said...

I have a couple of questions (the behavioural scientist in me can't help it!) :

Does your fellow cook? How is he in other stores, like sporting goods, automotive, electronics, etc.?

I love to cook and I love books. So I love to browse and buy and appreciate. I also like to browse in order to mentally catalogue stuff for future reference, and have an affinity for tools of all sorts. My ex and I used to spend hours in a bookstore, browsing. Uber-landlady, on the other hand, is just like Mirty's husband.

A fascinating theory, nevertheless!

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Love your description, and one which I can relate to 100 percent!

My husband does not like to shop, and will go to great lengths to avoid any store where I go, unless it is for plants.

Moishe Q. Public said...

Do you share an email address?

Balabusta in Blue Jeans said...

About the cooking of the boyfriend--first, he wants it pointed out that he drove us to get the pizza, which he considers his contribution, since I can't drive. Duly noted, hon.

He grills, on occasion, both in the backyard, and in our oven. He makes extremely good scrambled eggs. He cooks a perfect pot of rice. (Much better than mine.) He can also fix oatmeal. And when I am out for the evening, he feeds himself, although often with TV dinners. He can fry things, and make anything that comes with microwaving directions.

He once made a fruit pie. He enjoys cooking shows, especially Alton Brown, and will sometimes make notes of recipes he thinks we might like.

But it is rare for him to assemble a cooked meal, although he will often help with various aspects of preparation. When I am too wrecked or busy to cook we normally get take-out. He wishes to emphasize that he has OTHER important skills, such as driving.

Barefoot--he generally is in and out of all kinds of stores quickly, the exception being comic book stores and toy stores where he comes close to what I would call normal browsing behavior.

Moishe Q.--are you asking if I share an e-mail address with the fella, or if I have a public one? You can reach me at balabustainbluejean@yahoo.com, but warn me if you send mail, since I check it very rarely.

davidalexander6794 said...
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Moishe Q. Public said...

That email didn't work ... will try it as a plural. :(

Balabusta in Blue Jeans said...

Sorry, yes, that was a typo.

Jack's Shack said...

I browse in bookstores, but in other stores I certainly am quick to identify what I want.