Man Shopping

I’m not talking about shopping for a man.

I’m talking about man-style shopping.

It’s not like I love shopping. I don’t squander vacation days noodling around in tchotchke shops. Bleah. Still, shopping is a frequent necessity, so I try to delegate it now and then. Sometimes that’s more of a nuisance than just going to the store myself.

I’m sure there are plenty of strategies I could learn from my spouse’s shopping methods–like how to get in and out of Target in 17 minutes flat, for example–but a few of his habits are completely mystifying to me.

1. Labels? Shmabels!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked my spouse to pick up something at the store, only to discover that I have to go back to buy the item I actually wanted. Maybe I could do a quick and dirty shopping trip, too, if I just threw random crap into the cart. Scallions are not shallots. Butternut squash is not pumpkin. And is it too much to ask to look for the word salted or unsalted on the butter? He’ll buy the orange juice with extra pulp, though he hates pulp, and it just goes bad in the fridge. If I mention “pulp free” the next time, he’ll wind up buying the kind with added calcium, which he won’t drink, either.

Sometimes the man reads half the label, which may be worse: “Less sugar,” it says right before “than Sunny D.” I try to explain the difference between fruit juice and fruit drink, but I can see his eyes glazing over like they do when I ask him not to put my favorite wool sweater in the dryer. Whatever.

Here's a clue: when fruit is spelled with two o's and an's probably not the real deal.
Here’s a clue: when fruit is spelled with two o’s and an umlaut…it’s probably not the real deal.

As a methodology, though, complete disregard for precision inevitably frees up a lot of his time. Not only is his shopping trip nice and quick, I’m probably not going to ask him to go next time.

2. Let’s buy enough for the Armageddon.

You might be wondering why I have a 50-pound bag of rice in the middle of my kitchen. Well, it’s because it doesn’t f*!&ing fit anywhere else. I completely understand buying in bulk, but wouldn’t twenty pounds of rice suffice? That seems like plenty. And is it really necessary to buy 48 rolls of toilet paper at once? Or 12 rolls of paper towels and a gallon jug of Windex? Really?

Last time we needed more bedding for the mouse cage, the man brought home a bag that was four feet wide and three feet tall. Why? Because it was ‘cheaper’ to buy a two-year supply. Little Stripey promptly kicked the bucket a couple of weeks later. Now what? Now the girls’ closet is impassable because a truck load of cedar shavings is sequestered there. Every time I trip over it, or try and squeeze around it to find some lost shoe, I give it a little punch. It feels pretty good.

What makes rule #2 especially confusing is that he hates having so much stuff. “Why are all of the cupboards and closets full of stuff?” he hollers. I bite my tongue, because the basement full of boxes is completely my fault. It’s not like I can cast the first stone.

3. Why go to the store if you could buy it online?

Left to his own devices, the spouse would buy absolutely everything online. It started a while back when it was cheaper to subscribe for a year of two-day shipping than to pay the delivery charge on the gigantic power tool he needed. After that, he began ordering everything from diapers to a shop vac to wine to batteries. That’s convenient and all, but paired with the first two rules, it means we get a lot of packages. Recently he gave me a packet with ten pairs of extra thick white sweat socks. What’s this for? I asked. “Oh,” he shrugged. “I thought they were men’s. It costs too much to ship them back, so I’m giving them to you.” Yeah, thanks.

I will admit that the wrong pot that he ‘amazoned’–the one we had to store in a dusty pile on top of the kitchen cabinets for five years–has recently become useful. That’s nice.

In the meantime, we need grape-flavored Children’s Tylenol, so I guess I’ll head to the store. Any ideas on how to use up a mountain of cedar shavings?

Published by

Beret Olsen

Writer, photographer, teacher, and part-time insomniac.

24 thoughts on “Man Shopping”

  1. I want to enter into the record that the woman in my life has insisted that I always make a list now when I go grocery shopping, and her advice has been wonderful. So sometimes, men can shop in a better way…as long as they have a woman to steer them in the right direction… 😉


  2. mine doesn’t do math very well. i needed 2 boxes of cream and the store had a special for 3 boxes for the price of two. He still picked up 2 instead of 3. But then, I was just grateful that he didn’t pick up one box. mine reads labels but not the price tag. Many times when he would drop something in the cart, I would ask him “How much is this?” and that’s the end of our conversation.


  3. We men prefer to shop online in our procrastination time and use the shopping time wisely for watching Football ! It would annoy my ex when I would do all the shopping online on a Friday night so Saturday afternoon was kept free to watch football. She did however appreciate my skill at bargain hunting so yes at times I did purchase items in bulk but when the prices of products rose she did appreciate my forecasting skills.


  4. First of all I would like to say great blog! I had a quick
    question in which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your head before writing. I’ve had a hard time clearing my thoughts in
    getting my thoughts out there. I do enjoy writing however it just seems
    like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be wasted simply just trying to figure
    out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips?

    Appreciate it!


    1. Thank you! I think there is no simple answer to your question, because a) everyone is different, and b) I’m not sure those 10 or 15 minutes are really wasted at all. Staring at a blank screen or sheet of paper can be paralyzing, in my opinion, and it takes time to build up courage and organize one’s thoughts. On the other hand, I often go for a short walk, stretch, or do some menial, physical chore to help clear my head. I also find it very helpful to have the writing area free of reminders of all the other crap I could/should be doing. Some days I need to write a bunch of junk for a few minutes and get it out of the way (a la The Artist’s Way, where you just write without censoring yourself at all for a set amount of time or pages). Even making a list of all the things I need to do AFTER I write helps me to let it go and focus. When I ask around, though, I can’t tell you how many people swear by meditating for 15 minutes every morning. It’s supposedly amazing. I just have not mastered that! Good luck to you!


  5. Bloody hell! I used to like saturday morning shopping. It was my domain – no matter how much she would mutter darkly before I left and regardless of how much she would mutter darkly on my return. I have learned to tough-out the snide digs like: You DID remember to get short-grain and not long-grain rice, did you? Yes, dear, I offer without daring to meet her eyes. Best to avoid confrontation. Or: you know we have six boxes of soap powder in the laundry cupboard already? Yes, dear, but it was half-price. You know your mother’s dementia led her to build a wall of toilet rolls in her bedroom? Yes, dear, but I only got a three-pack. It was discounted. And so it goes. But, now your spouse has behaved in such an appallingly unfortunate manner with his approach to shopping that I feel I may have to surrender this one, satisfying task in my life. Never again will I know the joy of buying the things that I want! Never again, the delight of being able to spend two hours lost in my own little world as I cruise the aisles with my trolley. Never again that free and easy banter with the checkout chicks because She Who Must Be Obeyed was safely at home and not able to see me enjoying myself. If only your spouse could have met your standards, I might have continued to have faith in myself. Now, it is just a shattered dream. Truly, he has much to answer for. You are right to hold him to account. But the ripples flow far and wide . . .


    1. Egads! It’s really not so serious! One of these days I will write the apology post that is required to make peace at home, with the added bonus that folks like you will know the whole story, and need not suffer any longer.


  6. Ah, but the thanks go to you for providing the opportunity. And tell He Who Must Be Subservient he has friends out here in the ether who support him in his travails against a hard, hard woman!


  7. I have three men in my life that love to help with the grocery shopping. My dear Hubby, and 2 sons, Hubby comes home with so much stuff that I have to rearrange my cupboards so everything will fit. Son #1 buys everything he can find that is low-fat, no sugar, low-sodium, organic, preservative free…..and it all tastes like shit. The other son comes home with cheese crackers, cheese popcorn, cheese pizza and vodka. But at least they go. All I need to survive is yogurt, bagels and diet Pepsi! They are on their own.


  8. HAHAHA!!! We have a 50 lb bag of dried green peas in the kitchen, next to the island. I kick it on average-about 3x a day. We have no pantry. (What sort of an asshat builds a four bedroom house and does not put in a pantry?)
    My husband brought home the peas. I said “WHY?” His answer, “They were cheap. We could survive on those if there is a famine.” Are we expecting a famine? I know I am not. I grow some tomatoes and peppers and cucumbers every summer and I like my food, but what is this fixation with famine?
    I cannot lift a 50 lb bag of dried green peas and take them to the garage. He has to do it. It is on the honey-do list. Maybe when my college kid comes home in two weeks I can get him to schlep them to the garage.
    My dear husband also buys the crappy fruit drinks, gets things with MSG (which I am deathly allergic too) because he refuses to read labels. He is also an online shopper. I am the one signing for big boxes from NewEgg, wondering what the hell did he need for the computer now? I dread the sound of the UPS truck or the FedEx truck pulling up to the curb.
    But he is the breadwinner, I am the unemployed hausfrau. I am grateful that he goes to work faithfully everyday and leaves me standing on the front porch wondering WTF? is in the giant box that just got left there. Or in the box from Amazon? Did I mention he is also into metaphysics and finds obscure websites and orders odd books about Atlantis and space aliens and crop circles and dead languages and Alistair Crowley? I love the dude, but our tastes are starting to be somewhat divergent. You give me comfort knowing I am not alone.


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