Men are from NAPA, women are from Macy’s

If you want to observe the difference between men and women at its purest form, study their shopping habits. With the holiday buying season now officially under way, there’s no better time to witness this phenomenon for yourself.

Here’s a brief study guide to get you started.


  1. a) Define an outfit as something comprised of at least three pieces of clothing, all of which are interchangeable and flattering.
  2. b) Have researched the best buys and know where there’s a sale today.
  3. c) Are undecided about whether or not a drop-waist makes them look fat.
  4. d) Will try on all clothes within arm’s reach of the fitting room.


  1. a) Define an outfit as something comprised of jeans. And maybe a fishing lure.
  2. b) Have researched today’s game schedule on ESPN and know they can get to the store and back during halftime.
  3. c) Are undecided about how to answer when their wives ask if a drop-waist makes them look fat.
  4. d) Won’t get within arm’s reach of the fitting room.

Obviously, the best time to conduct your study is when both men and women are in the store at the same time. This is easy to do if you just follow the Saturday sports schedule and plan your visits during halftime periods throughout the day.

The first thing you’ll notice is the difference between how men and women enter the department store.

Men don’t browse, they buy.

Being a man myself, I can attest to the fact that we enter the store with absolute purpose, and continue walking that way, even if we have know idea where we’re going. When we do find the clothing section, there’s no wasting time on decisions about color or fabric.

If it’s denim and has working pockets, we’re done shopping.

By comparison, most women enter a department store like archeologists stumbling upon the remains of a lost civilization. After creating a mental grid of the area, they begin the long, slow process of sifting through every rack and every bin of twisted undergarments until, eventually, they conclude there’s nothing worth buying.

At which point they move to the next aisle.

For a thorough study of the shopping habits of men and women, you must also include men who accompany their wives shopping. Keep in mind that, in most cases, these men are there by choice, i.e., they’ve chosen to go shopping over having their wives sleep in mechanic’s overalls for the next six months.

The easiest way to tell these men apart from those who aren’t there with their wives is to look for any man leaning on a shopping cart with the “100-yard stare.” This is an unblinking gaze fixed on the exit doors, which, in most cases, are within 100 yards.

It’s interesting to note some of the defense mechanisms that have evolved in these men over time. For example, waving at them instantly triggers loss of sight. Next comes deafness.

Should you somehow manage to get their attention, these individuals will be unable to speak.

Carrying on the experiment passed this point isn’t recommended unless you are a certified physician.

That said, as we enter the holiday, gift-giving season, let’s take time to rejoice in the differences between men and women. Let’s embrace our diversity, and savor those things that define our genders.

And if possible, let’s do it within 100 feet of the exit.


Ned is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. Write him at [email protected] or c/o Siuslaw News, 148 Maple St., Florence, Ore. 97439.


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