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May 31, 2007

Women Rule

Women Rule

by Nancy

We've done Man Law already, so lately I've been thinking about Woman Rules Regarding Stubborn Men, which has nothing to do with what went down at my house or anywhere else over the weekend. Really.

How about:  Don't tell a man he can't go on his honeymoon, even if he has TB. (We're going to hear more on that story, aren't we?  I suspect there's a Bridezilla lurking behind the CDC statements. Either that, or a cautionary tale in favor of buying trip insurance.)

Here's a Rule that's a classic in my family:

When in a big box store, never get in the checkout line with a male cashier.  No matter what his age, the checking out process will take longer than it should because he's too stubborn to ask for help when the receipt paper jams or the bar code doesn't work or he's run out of plastic bags.  (If possible, choose the checkout line run by a hardbitten woman over the age of thirty with a smoker's cough who knows from checkout lines, hon, and will get you out of the store in two shakes.)

Likewise, do not send a man to the grocery store unless you won't need that carton of milk or dozen eggs for at least two hours. Because that's how long it will take him to find the milk or the eggs, but probably not both, because men do not ask for help in the grocery store.

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Am I wrong about this? Or maybe I adopted the wrong strategy at the beginning of my marriage when it seemed easier to go to the grocery myself rather than send my husband, who, if he couldn't find the Heinz catsup would come home with no catsup at all in the theory that the wrong brand meant the wrong product altogether?

Now, with the aid of the cell phone, he will call me from the grocery store--if for some life-threatening reason he has been coerced to go--to confirm that any f**king brand of catsup will do, for crying out loud.

But for the most part, I'd be nuts to ask my husband to run to the grocery for anything. (Yes, I recognize his inept performance of this task has been a not-so-subtle, passive-aggressive technique to prevent me from asking him to perform any grocery-related errand.) It's simply easier to drop whatever I'm doing--like trying to make deviled eggs for the picnic he accepted an invitation to despite me slaving like a madwoman to complete revisions on a novel over the holiday weekend--and go to the store myself.

In a recent survey, 71% of men admit they have shopped in a grocery store in the last three months. Now, maybe at your house this kind of statistic doesn't prompt gales of maniacal laughter.  But I've been to the grocery store three times in the last three days, and trying to count up the number of times I've made the trek in the last three months is ridiculous.  (The gasoline I consume going to Whole Foods for a gallon of skim milk alone might run all the gas-powered string trimmers on all the golf courses in North America for decades.) Meanwhile, my husband has been to the store exactly one time since Christmas, and that was when I had a back spasm and couldn't leave the heating pad or drive because of the drugs.

The survey lady thinks that because men are getting married at an older average age, and also because more women are working (instead of schlepping to the supermarket for the sheer pleasure of spending their leisure time pricing pickles, I suppose) "the stage is set for men to assume more grocery shopping."

But, she adds, "it's going to be a much more convenient and efficient trip than a woman's approach."

Kinda like how Viagra-like drugs became a top priority for the pharmaceutical industry, I guess, grocers are now thinking maybe it's time to make the whole food shopping experience more efficient and less---what?  Recreational?  You call going to the Piggy Wiggly a good time, lady?  What else do you do for fun?  Hitch yourself to a minivan full of eight-year-old soccer players and pull it down I-95 on Memorial Day weekend??

One way to look at this situation: Men want an entire industry to change so they don't have to. And they're probably going to get their way.

I consulted my husband about this survey, and he got steamed right away. "What I want is a computer at the front of the store.  I want to be able to type in a product, and the computer needs to tell me what aisle and what shelf I can find it on."

If I'm hearing him right, he's overwhelmed by the choices most grocery stores have. Maybe it's a kind of food-related hysteria? I already know he has that, because when he opens the refrigerator, he'll often ask, "Where's the jelly?" Like it's invisible. Or maybe his field of vision is confused by the beer selection arrayed in front of him.  If the jelly were a snake, it would bite him, but that's not good enough. The jelly needs to jump into his hand, or I must go over and point it out to him. It's visual multi-tasking, and he can't do it. Asking him to find one item in the pantry is like asking him to go to South Africa to dig up a diamond, cut and polish it to perfection and present it to me for our anniversary.  Not gonna happen.

Same in the grocery store.  He's so stunned by the sensory impact of that long aisle lined with sixteen versions of Doritos that he can't mentally sort through all the cereal choices to find the Total.

(Me, I want Fresh Direct to come to my city. If you promised me I never see the inside of another grocery store again, I'd probably kiss you and everyone else within eighteen city blocks.)

Yes, men can be stubborn.  Maybe that trait contributes to the survival of the species, but I don't see how.

(And don't get me started about the man dressed in the suit and tie with a basket of Hungry Man meals who sighs and mutters behind you in the grocery line because the wait is unendurable.)

I've got to finish these revisions.  Can you tell how delighted I am to be doing them?

Talk amongst yourselves.


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Sending my husband to the store is a study in what else he can bring home. He will get what I tell him to get, not checking brands too much. But then the extras come out of the bag. The Swiss Cheese just JUMPED out of the dairy case and into his basket, honest! So did the pickles and the lunch meats and the cookies. He WOULD NEVER get those on purpose!

I must jump in here and give credit where credit is due !! My husband has done 99% of the grocery shopping for the last 28 years ! I dont say 32, which is the total of our marriage, because of the times he was overseas serving. He is very much a mans man but he uses coupons, and can buy veggies with the best of them! I am proud of him and am nominating him for husband of the century !! SusanCo

Now we might have an idea here~grocery stores for men. Filled with chips, soda, beer, frozen pizzas, pop, pre-cooked chicken and whatever else guys seem think is food. Maybe we can the NFL to sponsor us! Yes! The Real Man Real Grocery store.(no feminine products allowed!)

PS~an entire row of duct tape in every color and size!

My mom tells a great story about my dad's one and only grocery shopping experience. She was laid up (surely with flu or TB or Ebola, if she was desperate enough to send him shoppping) so my dad, usually a smart and savvy guy when it comes to finances, triumphantly returned. He had found everything on her list--but he only spent half the money! Why? Because he bought the teeny-tiny sizes of everything. He told her that's where she was going wrong, she was buying too much of everything. The next day, she crawled out of bed and went herself becuase, of course, she'd run out of everything. Proves grocery shopping can make an idiot out of anyone.

JaniceNW, you should write a book--Murder at the Real Man Grocery Store. The death weapon would have to be duct tape, of course.

I am glad to know that I am not the only one married to tunnel vision man. What men really need out of a grocery store is a drive through. The X chromosone impaired person can pull up to the speaker and explain the situation - sick wife needs soup, tampax, ibuprofen, and ice cream. Soccer snacks for 10 needed in 15 minutes. Unexpected dinner guests and no food in house. Then said person can drive around to pickup and pay for the appropriate items.

Yes, this service would cost more, but everyone wins. The wife gets what is really needed instead of those bizarre items they usually drag home, the men get back to whatever they were doing before they were put upon, and the stores are pleased to not have the confused males wandering the store in a daze trying to buttonhole staff to ask for the locations of things.

The NFL grocery store!! Why didn't I think of that? Quick---somebody call a lawyer and set us all up in business!

I'll be happy to end this day with my body parts as intact, figuratively, as they were before I read this blog. So far, so good.

Another Rule:

If a man and his friend 'run out to the hardware store just to get x', cancel all plans involving either of them for the next three hours.

I think the only thing worse than sending a man to the grocery store is taking him with you! My husband thinks it's a sightseeing expedition! "Oh, look at this new brand of chips!" "Why don't you ever buy this type of cookie?" Well intended but...!

When I was single, I used to love going to the Acme and tossing the pack of contraceptive sponges on the belt. Other feminine products would work well, too. My wife correctly noted that it was advertising to the world that I was "getting it," and also that I was responsible and mature enough to buy the supplies myself.

My son, OTOH, hid when I bought that still-unneeded pack of Trojans for him last summer and was especially mortified when her father almost saw them sitting in my car. I can't understand why.

I've learned to never send my husband to the grocery store, especially with my younger son. The last time, all I needed were buns and cheese to go with the hamburgers I was making for dinner. Fifteen minute trip, right?

An hour later, they returned with four bags of items, none of which contained cheese. They did however contain four kinds of cookies, chips, pretzels, three kinds of ice cream, and the buns.

Never again!

Turkey cutlets
Fancy nuts
Greek "grillable" cheese that is 99% salt

= What Charlie brought back from the co-op the last time I asked him to go.

What I had requested:
Chicken breasts
Mozzarella (sp?)

Pretty close.

Personally, I tink it's a conspiracy so they can get out of going to the grocery store.

PS - The artichokes are still in the vegetable drawer

If I ask Attila-the-Husband to get me something from the pantry, he cocks his head and looks at me, puzzled, as though I had suddenly started speaking Mandarin Chinese. So I translate, "The pantry...Pantry...the little closet where we store non-perishable food items..." Ya'know, it's just easier and quicker to do it myself. Hmmm... perhaps that's part of his plan.
Ramona dear, I love how men explain 'where we were going wrong', and enlighten us with the 'right way' of doing things. Like we'd just be a bunch of clueless twits, milling about in the grocery store for entertainment.
SusanCo - I second your nomination. Do you think your wonderful husband would consent to giving lessons ? 'Cause I know someone who needs remedial training.

The ONLY time my husband goes to the grocery store alone is when he's heading out camping with the guys. Items bought: chips, pop, more chips.

I can pretty much get whatever I want by threatening to take him to the store WITH me. He'd rather sit coated in honey on an ant hill. He'd rather do ANYTHING except go grocery shopping with me.

And don't get me started on the bit about staring into the refrigerator looking for the peanut butter when it's "hiding" right in front. The man can spot a buck or a wild turkey hiding in the woods 300 yards away while he's driving 65mph down the highway, but he can't find the peanut butter in the refrigerator. AGH!

Great blog, Nancy! I can't relate to it, though, because after years of New York City grocery stores and FreshDirect (where you get the groceries your neighbor ordered, and you're scared to let the delivery guys into your apartment) I am LOVING grocery shopping in the cute little food coop in my town. (So's my husband, who gladly took it over when I was finishing my book.) It's clean. Nobody threatens you. The staff is knowledgable and helpful. All the food is fresh. I'm in heaven!

I'm going to brag on my husband. The man loves to cook, so shopping is the kind of fun that any hobbyist has in their area of fun. He recently finished "The Omnivore's Dilemma", so he's on a whole new bender. I think that he wants me to raise him some chickens. He has described his dream weekend day (of course, in this fantasy he has no children) as going to the farmers market, then the fish mongers, then the butcher and Whole Foods for all of his ingredients. His "Bouchon" cookbook is his new bible. Last night he took a sauces class and is excited to make us a seared tuna with remoulade.

If I did not love him so much, I would be afraid that he was trying to fatten me up and give me a coronary. On the safe side, we still haven't gotten my life insurance taken care of, so he'd be stuck.

Now it is true that he can't find anything in the pantry or refrigerator, but that is what my deep breathing is for.

If I take Chuck to the grocery store with me, all we do is race through the aisles while I get "what you went in for". If I send him alone, he comes back with three bags, usually(not always) including what I sent him for in the first place. If I want exotic, I do the latter. For staples, I just do it myself on the way home from work. And never on a Saturday...that's when everyone stands in the aisles and chats with neighbors they only see(yep)at the grocery store!
Does anyone else find that a simple trip to the store for milk usually ends up costing at least 25.00? (That's another thing...all those little nibble samples at 5PM when the stomach is protesting the salad lunch!)
Happy revisions, Nancy :o)

SarahS- You have it completely right! They play dumb and screw it up so you won't ask them to do it again! It's amazing how fast they learn when you divorce their sorry butts!

"'the stage is set for men to assume more grocery shopping.' But, she adds, 'it's going to be a much more convenient and efficient trip than a woman's approach.'"

Huh? Are they actually going to establish a drive-through, as suggested by Liz? How does one make the trip more convenient and efficient? And why has it been okay for years for the trip to be inefficient and inconvenient? It never occurred to me that grocery shopping was inconvenient and inefficient because mostly women were doing it. Is that really what the author meant?

Cheryl? SusanCo? Send me your husbands, please. Will they tutor?

Since I got pneumonia in March, my husband had to make his annual trip to the store. It so exhausted him, he could barely make it to work the next day.

Honest to Pete, I hate to make generalizations, but it's all too, too true, to judge by our family. My 89-year old father-in-law is discouraged from going into stores unaccompanied, as he comes out loaded down with bags and bags of . . . candy (which I help him eat).

Maryann, I believe that baby girls are brainwashed, at birth, in the hospital, not to exit the grocery store until the $25.00 goal is met.

I would probably enjoy grocery shopping more if Trader Joe's were closer, but we've already done that topic.

I hate to shop! Getting out of going to the grocery store/discount store/superstore is worth letting my husband pick up the everyday needed items. I save my food shopping for fun places (i.e. the Strip in Pgh.). I do occasionally give the grocery stores the grace of my presence when I need an item I feel my husband is incapable of picking up, but living in semi-rural Western PA makes for planned shopping trips. The closest large grocery store and superstore are nine miles away and these are my husband’s haunts. He picks up needed items on the way home from work and even stoically purchases those certain items needed by myself and our daughter. Jim Bob actually likes shopping, getting into price comparisons between name brands and store brands. Although I think he wastes too much time on these comparisons. He will leave for a shopping trip that would take me one hour and come back 5 hours later often with much more than he originally set out to purchase. “But it was a deal too good to pass up!” is his favorite refrain. I will admit to some frustration at this, but the trade-off for me is worth it.

Hey, isn't that Trader Joes just up the street from You Know What?

Our Shop Rite has a phone or internet ordering system, where you can call or email (I guess) your order, and they do the shopping. You stop in and pick it up right near the front door, or they ring it up and bring it out to your car. I don't know how accurate they are or how much they charge, but it could solve many problems that I am hearing about today.

My husband is one in a million. He hits the commissary and supermarket weekly, and is a much better shopper than I ever was!

I did the grocery shopping for 28 years, until I started a 3rd-shift job in 1998 (for only a year, but that's another story). As I was usually sleeping during the shopping excursions, my husband started doing it.

When I didn't have to do it anymore, I realized just how tired of grocery shopping I was - very.

So, kudos to John, you're the best!

Since I do 99% of the cooking in my house I also do all the grocery shopping. That's not say that we eat well, but I try. You've never lived until you've had stir fried Fig Newtons or Roast Beef Jerky and mashed potato chips.

Seriously, I really do cook. I even make my own pasta sauces from scratch. My wife is lost in the grocery store, especially since we've moved to New England. On the other hand we have a new computerized washer and dryer that are equipped with lots of scary lights, buttons, and buzzers and I don't have a clue how to even turn them on. It's probably a good thing that I don't. I have a sneaky feeling (from experience as a single dad many years ago) that all our clothes would be one color - either pink or gray.

It's a fair trade. She doesn't mess with the kitchen stuff, my tools, or the yard work and I don't do laundry or clean house (well sometimes I do when she makes me).

We both pitch in for chores like painting.

Well, it's Beef Jerky night and we're out of fixings so I'm off to the store.

I'm a bit hesitant to ask, but what kind of fixings does one need for Beef Jerky? Other than beef and maybe a curling iron?

Josh, you are Asking For It.

Well, you know how that goes...If you had some beef you could have some beef jerky if you had some jerky.

I've always wondered what the "jerky" is in that nasty stuff.

Great blog, Nancy, and I agree that the idea that grocery stores are going to have to change their practices now that men are entering the shopping force in greater number to be, well, interesting in any event, if not downright disturbing.

I'm one of the lucky ones whose husband does all the shopping. He gets whatever I ask for, even if it means (as he puts it) wandering around muttering to himself. He also keeps all the staples on hand, does the comparison-shopping, and is very good at not grabbing stuff on a whim. That's my job, and one of the reasons he's often not that excited when I accompany him.

In one of his greatest moments, he went head-to-head with two of my daughter's friends, both of whom worked at our local grocery store, in a "name that aisle" contest. Heck, I've had to call him from the store when I can't find stuff.

Cheryl, if your husband liked "Omnivore's Dilemma", you might want to suggest Barbara Kingsolver's latest: "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle". It's about the year she and her family ate mostly what they grew, raised, or found locally. There's a good website, too.

Michele, I think I hate you. First the barn, now the cool co-op with real food. What's next? A private swimming pond? Fourth of July concerts in the park bandstand? I'm so jealous :)

My mother in law called me expressing her shock and awe her son, my husband on his last visit volunteered to shop for her, called her from the grocer's to discuss options and returned with groceries, checked -off list, receipt and exact change.

They're still talking about it six months later.


Sorry to say this, Kerry -- there is a pond near my house! It's really bright green with algae though. Not great for swimming, but excellent for ice skating in the winter.

Kerry- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is on his list. My only fear is that he is going to return to his farming roots. I wasn't kidding about the chickens, he's already waxed on about the better taste of grassfed eggs, beef, lamb, etc. Now how to pay for all of this bounty?

I can't relate only because my husband does ALL the grocery shopping. Because he does all the cooking. That's right. The only thing I've made in the last 10 years has been meatloaf, because he just can't get it right. The rest of it, he can. He's got a pretty high stress job and he claims this calms him down when he gets home from work. Who's to argue? So he shops as well, because he knows what he's going to cook for the week. The only thing there's a problem with is that he never checks if we need more toilet paper.

Dammit, we should have had a contest to see who could guess what job the TB patient has.

News reports say he is......a personal injury lawyer.

Isn't that some kind of punchline? I can hear Leno and Letterman cackling with glee right now.

He should sue himself on behalf of all those poor people he infected. What I never would've guessed is that his father-in-law is a TB researcher at the CDC. Is that a coincidence? Too bizarre!

I would say this is a hijack, but Nancy started it, and you can't hijack your own blog.

Nancy, aren't you going to mention the...you know?



Am I hearing 'World War Z' ?

Yep. Z for Zombies. I haven't slept in three mings, and it's not because I'm staying up all night playing Solitaire with my Casino Royale playing cards.

I've been telling everybody I know to read World War Z. I am fascinated. It's an apocalypse book about a terrible plauge that overruns the earth. It has totally hooked me. But the "z" word will cause most everybody here to choose not to read it. Josh, I think you should go buy the book. Trust me. Trust Ramona.

Love, love, love World War Z. I have the Survival Handbook that preceded it on my book pile. It reads so well, you can see why the film rights were snatched up. Also, the author is Mel Brooks son and a SNL writer, so his comedy creds are strong.

As a funny aside, for some reason my local library has it filed under non-fiction. Hmm.

See, the whole Mel Brooks's son element didn't help sell the book to me at all. Because it ain't funny. But it's brilliant. If you haven't read World War Z, you should at least go read the Amazon reviews. Amazing word of mouth.

Who'da thunk it? Our Nancy, in love with a zombie book. I swore I couldn't buy it, but I got such a kick out of her enthusiasm that I broke down and now I'm reading it too. Do *I* love it? No. It's fabulously detailed and very literate. But it's about freaking zombies!! I can't get past that.

There's a bigger problem that goes more to the writing. The book is a series of interviews with people who survived the zombie war. No character is onscreen for more than a few pages, so I find it hard to care about any of them. And besides, since they're being interviewed, I know they survived, which for me kills the suspense. I bet it would be worth seeing as a movie though -- great special effects. And it's sure been fun being part of Nancy's enthusiasm.

Just a note, Nancy, that I always enjoy your posts so much. They're hilarious!

Good luck with your rewrites - I have two due myself. They're hell, aren't they?

Great post Nancy...and hysterical comments from some of you ladies!

My hubby will go to the store and does a lot. It's the one thing I HATE to do!

Um, my husband does all the grocery shopping. And only buys what's on the list. I hate grocery shopping, but he enjoys it.

He also irons all his own shirts.

But don't ask him to walk into a mall, or clean toilets.

I beg to differ with you on the male checkout dudes. Lately I've found that those ladies with the smoker's hack are too busy chatting with the checker in the next lane. The conversation always revolves around the exact time until their next break.

The mostly dorky twenty something guys tend to take the job more seriously. I think they like the scanner. So I aim my overflowing cart their direction.

This is my first visit...thanks for the fun post.

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