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Posted: December 18, 2011 12:00 a.m.

The season of shopping

The season of - well of - 'Tis the season and shopping is upon us.

We recognize this is the time to give gifts, not for the commercialism of Christmas but in the spirit of the Magi. We sometimes forget this, but the joy of giving is often greater than the joy of receiving.

Although shopping for gifts online is now all the rage, and no doubt it is easy and convenient, there is no charm to the act. The hustle and bustle of the crowds and visiting stores awash with Christmas decorations is part of the fun of the holidays.

When you are finished and get home exhausted, this is when you put your tired feet up and have a toddy. This is also part of the joy of the Holiday Season. Shopping in the real world does have certain obvious disadvantages, but this is the time of year when the value of the male of our species is most pronounced. We excel as beasts of burdens and can carry more Christmas packages than a camel can water. Were it not for the male's ability to tote, and perhaps kill spiders, women would have long since taken over. (Actually, that might not be a bad thing because men have been running the world for centuries and things haven't gone that great). But when asked if he can carry just one more sack, a manly man will never say no - even as he gives himself a hernia as his knees buckle.

Christmas shopping highlights the differences between men and women.

Men tend to shop in what may be best described as the attacking hawk mode. We know what we want, go and get it, then go home. And like the hungry hawk that went after the rabbit, sometimes we end up with squirrel. Women generally use the meandering shark technique. While the trip to the store might have been to buy a blender for Aunt Lola, once that is accomplished they will drift slowly through the store, eyes darting from side to side, looking for that special item or something that is just too good a deal to pass up.

If they find it, impede them at your own risk because they will attack the counter with a ferocity that makes a Great White Shark look like a goldfish.

The other thing that happens during shopping season is that the desire to buy a gift for oneself is often overwhelming. In this there are no differences between the sexes. Women have an additional gland that is yet undiscovered by the medical profession. It is the shoe gland. And, Christmas or not, the shoe gland makes it impossible for a woman to walk by a shoe store without stopping, and once they stop it is a certainty they will find a pair of shoes that are just adorable and will go perfectly with the dress they haven't bought yet. Men, left to their own devices, will behave in a similar manner except we will stop in front of the Victoria's Secret and we can't blame it on an unknown gland.

If a man asks a woman to make a purchase for him while she is making her rounds, she will normally get exactly what is requested. When the man says, "I wanted it in blue," the response is usually, "You didn't say blue." At this point the smart man, should you find such a creature, should shrug and respond, "OK, need me to carry anything from the car?" But if a woman sends a man to buy a gift, it should done so with the understanding of the peril it presents. If a man is sent to buy a gift for grandma and finds himself near one of his favorite stores, he may very well come home with the China set for grandma but he could also be proud owner of a new chainsaw for himself, even though he has a chainsaw and it hasn't been used in five years.

Men have also traditionally taken on the role of handyman when we are confronted with the Christmas gift that comes with those debilitating words "Some Assembly Required" on the box. The smart man in this case will find something wrong with the item before he opens the box and declare it must be returned for something pre-assembled. If this doesn't work, have the toddy handy. So enjoy the holiday and embrace the madness. And remember, you can always have a yard sale come spring to get rid of that old chainsaw.


Ric Latarski is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics and can be reached at Rlatarski@aol.com.

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