12.29.11: The Guy's Aisle

Well huzzah and hallalujah, guess who left the house today. That’s right, he said, scuffing the dirt and looking down with an aw-gawrsh expression of tain’t-much modesty. I left the house, and not just one of those penny-ante trips where you go to the post office, either. Although I did go to the post office. Big errand: mail a Netflix disk, which increasingly feels like the modern equivalent of dropping a video off at Blockbuster. I hope this doesn’t ruin my street cred, being seen with physical media. It was my street, too, so the cred factor must be maintained. There was a line of four cars at the curb-side dropoff box, and if anyone had parked by the boxes and run inside there would have been a chorus of horns: OH NO. YOU DASN’T. People das, though; they’re just the most dassable species out there. People will park right in front of the boxes and run inside to do some business. The only possible rationale would be “I have a liver packed in dry ice.” Not many rise to this level of importance. The worst are those who amble out of the post office, unconcerned with all the people who are sitting in a line waiting for them to move their car from the NO PARKING spot. I’ve honked once or twice in this situation. They never know why. It’s one of life’s mysteries, and Lord, there are so many. Man honked at me today when I came out of the post office! People are crazy.


After this, I went to Best Buy to return something. Do you have the receipt? No, it was consumed by locusts. But here’s the card on which the item was placed; use your vast and efficient database and the transaction will pop up quite nicely. Since the credit card had already cycled, I got most of the money back on a gift card. It said: Happy Hanukkah.

I WAS OFFENDED. Just kidding. After this exciting interlude, I went to the grocery store, because that’s just the kind of daredevil mood I was in. It was the warehouse store. They have a bank. Occasionally someone stands in the entrance and asks if you’d like $100. You suspect there is a catch, and indeed there is: you must open an account. I always want to ask if they don’t have this backwards, but they’ve probably run the numbers on this one and it all works out in the end. Who ever heard of banks doing foolish things that cost them money?

I bought breakfast sausage, because they sell it at prices that reveal other stores to be liars. It’s a buck a box. Elsewhere, $2.39. It’s possible that they buck-a-box price is designed to get me in the store and spend money on other inflated items, but this isn’t an advertised price with banners and trumpets and showgirls pointing the way to the freezer while clowns juggle balls on unicycles; it just is. The actual price is “10 for $10,” which makes you think you have to buy ten. If the sign said “1,684 for $1,684,” no one would buy them. But I’ve been here enough to know that it’s 7 for $7 or 3 for $3 or whatever combination you wish.

Which makes me Mr. Wizard Canny Savvy Dude, because apparently P&G is setting up “Man Aisles” in grocery stores to cater to the guys who find themselves doing the grocery shopping because they got fired and have to do the domestic stuff, however poorly, and they find the grocery store an alien, frightening place when they have to get more than milk and a Totino’s. The aisles will have small video screens that alert the guys to relevant items, which include “Skin care products.” Uh huh. Don’t be afraid, male-type fellow, we’re here to guide you through this difficult time. It’s an insulting stereotype. Imagine the alarums if Best Buy set up a Gal’s Aisle in the computer department, where they could shop in a safe, nurturing environment where everything was explained for them and it was all super supportive. Now, it’s quite possible that the stereotypes have a basis in reality, and that women are, for the most part, more comfortable in a grocery store, and men, for the most part, are more comfortable in a computer store or auto parts store. Let us posit that this is the result of social conditioning that has nothing whatsoever to do with the pure, gender-free human brain we all possess at birth. Just try to imagine a series of commercials: the guy is slinking around the Men’s Aisle looking ill-groomed, beleaguered, happy to find a tiny embassy of adolescent masculinity that has bikini models on TV screens hawking shave cream, awesome. The Women’s Aisle at the computer store has confident crisp ladies marching in and pointing to things with an air of confidence and satisfaction. End of her commercial: she’s leaving the store with a wide stride, smiling at a point in the distance. End of his commercial: he’s got a look on his face that says “that wasn’t so bad, and I saw girls in bikinis.”

My only point is this: they don’t know how to market to men who aren’t single guys in their late 20s who play Xbox nine hours a week. That’s all.

Ah, but I’m just in one of those moods. Your day starts like this . . .

and it’s all downhill from there.

Off tomorrow; back Monday with ten tons of new fun stuff. See you on Monday, for the start of the 16th year of the Bleat. Happy New Year!

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