American men are a rung short on the evolutionary ladder.
Unlike women, we are not equipped with the “$” chromosome, known in scientific circles as the shopping gene.
This explains why so many of us knuckle-dragging brutes put off buying Christmas gifts until approximately 4:45 p.m. on Dec. 24.
Well aware of our biological flaw, Spokane’s Nordstrom department store opened its doors 2-1/2 hours early the other day just for us shopping-deficient guys.
“We understand you sometimes find it difficult to shop for the women in your life,” read a politely worded mailer.
As an incentive, the department store promised free muffins and plenty of experts to “wrap your selections in our festive gift boxes and bows.”
I sadly suspect this generous gesture was penned by a woman.
Had Nordstrom promised “free Heineken, chili dogs and a scanty lingerie show,” the place would have been wall-to-wall testosterone.
But few men I know will crawl from the warmth of their covers at the crack of doom for anything less than the above or playoff tickets.
Which is why I found myself all alone at 7 a.m. next to a tray loaded with enough high-fat pastry to warm our boys in Bosnia.
“Men put off everything until the last minute,” said cosmetics clerk April Arredondo, with a bewildered shake of her head. “I don’t know why.”
It’s an odd sensation to be in a store outnumbered 6,000-to-1 by salespeople.
Before I could grab my free muffin, Rojane Porter had me examining a stunning shipment of diamond tennis bracelets brought in specially for the big male rush.
Rojane thought my wife, Sherry, would like the $4,500 one the best. “And you can put your bracelet on a separate account so you can keep your main account open for other purchases,” Rojane explained, smiling carnivorously.
Only thoughts of my daughter’s upcoming orthodontics bill gave me the power to resist this superwoman.
Not every man, however, is a shopping flop. There are a few genetic aberrations who actually have the $ chromosome.
“It doesn’t scare me at all to shop for my wife,” said Dan Black, when I caught him buzzing into the store about an hour after my arrival.
Dan claims to have memorized all of his wife’s clothing sizes. Even her shoe size.
The man, to be blunt, is a god.
“He could give men lessons on how to shop,” said a clerk who reverently followed him around the store.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of men are shopping-impaired clods.
I first became aware of my pathetic condition on a Christmas Eve 30-some years ago.
About noon, 12-year-old Dougie rode the Lincoln Park bus downtown to buy a present for his mom.
With so much time to kill, I didn’t think there’d be a problem if I browsed a moment inside Fun and Fancy, my favorite store in the universe.
Every shelf and display counter in this place was cluttered with a 12-year-old’s conception of heaven: magic tricks, joy buzzers, cigarette loads, garlic gum, rubber doggy do and the always popular fake vomit.
I can’t prove this, but the Earth must have experienced a four-hour short circuit in the time-space continuum that day.
One second it was 12:30 p.m. and then - wham! - I looked at the clock and it was 15 minutes to closing.
My bus home was due. I had nothing at all for my dear mother to open.
Sweating like a warm icicle from the first of what would be many yuletide panic attacks, I grabbed the first item within reach.
So on the blessed morn, my mother tore open my crude wrap job to discover that her thoughtful son had bought her a giant gag cigar.
Don’t laugh. My dad got her the high-speed drill he’d always wanted.
Bad genetics. I can’t think of any other explanation.