Posted by: nickgerlich | September 21, 2007


I have heard it said that women don’t tell jokes. They tell stories.

At the risk of making sweeping generalizations (generally speaking, this gets me in trouble with my wife), let me add that women tell everything in the form of a story. Ask the husbands.

Just yesterday I was standing in the hall at work chatting with Female Colleague #1. We were discussing the future of the College of Business, and other important matters, when along comes Female Colleague #2. Without hesitation mid-sentence, #1 turns away from me and says to #2, “Ooh, that’s a nice new skirt!”

And suddenly I was cast aside, because next came all the details associated with the purchase of said skirt. I stepped back.

A couple of minutes later, sensing my growing disinterest, #1 turned back to me and said, “You look nice, too, Nick.”

Oh. Thanks.

women shopping But that’s how it goes. John Gray made millions when he wrote Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, but at that moment, I felt as if I were from Pluto. A demoted planet occupying space in our solar system. I had nothing to add to the conversation. Luckily our meeting was about to start, so I was spared from further elements of the skirt saga.

Which reminds me of yet another episode. We were with our good friends, Brian and Verna, as is our custom on Saturday nights. We usually go to church and dinner together, and then sometimes play cards or dominoes (uh-oh, I think I’m sounding pretty old here…). One night we had arrived at their house and were preparing the table for another exciting round of Mexican Train (or something like that), when Becky started blurting out.

“Yesterday I went to see Donna…and, oh, I bumped into…and I had the kids with me…I was on my way to…but you know that never works…[insert irrelevant details here]…”

Verna was riveted to her seat, immersed in the telling of this epic tale. Brian, however, shot me a look that said, “What the heck is she saying?”

“Becky got a haircut,” I quickly summarized.

“Oh. OK. Who has the double 12s?”

And so it goes. In four words I was able to cut to the chase, but for Becky, there was no fun in that. Our friends now have a running joke whenever it comes to telling any story, for they preface it with “Do you want the Becky version, or the Nick version?”

While it is safe to say there are men who enjoy shopping (and women who don’t), as well as men who enjoy spinning stories when four words will suffice (and women who keep it simple), it is safer yet to simply say that men and women are different. Way different. And John Gray was a genius for having the guts to put that basic truth in print.

Generally speaking (there I go again), men treat shopping as if it were a bombing run over Baghdad. Swoop in, do your business, and then get the heck out of there. Found some pants that fit? OK, buy ’em in several colors, and you’ll be set for a couple of years. Didn’t even try them on? That’s OK, too. As long as they’re close.

I saw an ad the other day for men’s shoes at Dillard’s. They had five, count them, five different styles (in two colors), and three of them were tassel loafers. That’s the way I like it. Just pick one and run with it. But if you see an ad for women’s shoes, there are enough styles and colors to keep the Imelda Marcos in any woman satisfied.

Maybe I’m just dense, but I don’t get it. I’ve been married 21 years, and teaching Consumer Behavior for 17, and I am no closer to understanding the differences between male and female shoppers than I was when I first started my studies. Maybe the best bet is to simply hand over the Visa card and get out of the way.

Dominoes anyone?

Dr “I’ve Got The 12s” Gerlich


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