A comedian once said that when it comes to shopping, men are hunters and women are gatherers. Sounds about right to me. Many women will walk into a shoe store just to look around (read: gathering) and see what styles are in fashion. Not many men would do that. More likely they’d walk into Lamey-Wellehan, pick out a pair of needed summer sandals or steel-toed work boots and walk out, never to return until said shoes needed replacement.

This is blatant stereotyping, of course, but stereotypes like clichés are always based on at least a kernel of truth.

The pandemic turned me into a European-style shopper, visiting the market daily for the night’s meal, restocking the kitchen larder more frequently and more apt to buy in-season fruits and vegetables, writes Steven Price. Shawn Patrick Ouellette photo/Press Herald

This hunter/gatherer observation plays out pretty accurately when my wife and I go shopping together. I typically enter all stores with a shopping list, hunting – bang! bang! bang! – for just the items on my list. My wife, on the other hand, likes to read labels, especially in the grocery store. She may not be immediately interested in purchasing that package of grass-fed free-range beef, but for future reference wants to know the calorie count, fat content and sodium percentage.

And, she has another sneaky trick up her sleeve – she has an invisibility cloak. She must carry it in her purse, but when we separate in a big store like Walmart or Home Depot, she pulls it out, covers herself and disappears. I can walk up and down every single aisle, sometimes two or three times, and never find her.

Simply gone girl.

She claims this is not true, but I don’t believe her. Only some kind of female superpower or black magic could facilitate these disappearing acts.

Truth is, I like certain kinds of shopping. I love to go grocery shopping. It gives me a sense of renewal and replenishment. The pandemic has dramatically altered my food shopping habits. I used to go to the supermarket once a week, having planned out the week’s menu in advance (with a long shopping list, of course).

The pandemic turned me into a European, shopping daily for the night’s meal and restocking the kitchen larder with greater frequency. The latter way, I’ve decided, is healthier, as you are more apt to buy in-season fruits and vegetables and less likely to stock up on potato chips, Pirate’s Booty and Pepperidge Farm cookies. Plus, as a retiree, going shopping more often gives me an additional element of structure to my day.

Now, here’s where I sabotage my own theory.

I do like poking around hardware and sporting goods stores. Again, this is total caveman stereotyping, but what can I say. It’s true. I just don’t let on to my wife. She would accuse me of being a hypocrite. So, I do occasionally like browsing in the shoe department when I’m checking out, say, fishing boots. And, because we live in a consumer-driven capitalist country, and planned obsolescence is a driving force, even that practical footwear is subject to go out of style.

So, the “me hunter, you gatherer” labels don’t strictly apply. Sometimes the gender lines blur.

Steven Price is a Kennebunkport resident. He can be reached at [email protected]

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