On Shopping and Men who Like/Don’t Like to Shop


A shopping mall just across the street from the uni. A lot of students have part-time jobs in this mall.

The other day I had an interesting discussion with my girl students about shopping which 99% of them listed as their number one hobby.

Before coming to China, I never personally knew anybody who listed shopping as one of their hobbies. Shopping was, and I think, still is, a luxury in my country.

Talking with these young people about shopping made me feel I was old (which I am) and/or strange to them (I probably am.)

They say they do not ever go shopping alone. I almost always prefer shopping alone. They say they like going from shop to shop until they find the one they like best. I will check out two shops at most and then give up. They can shop all day; I can only last two hours, I’d rather get my nails done or eat! They have the patience of a saint when their picky friends cannot find the item they like; like I said, I prefer to shop alone and the number one reason is: I shop like a man. Or do I?

I always thought men were not into shopping. And that if they were, they would not have the patience to compare prices and quality, blah-blah.

Then years ago, I met best friend number 2. One time, we went to the mall because he was going to buy me two pairs of shoes as his Christmas present for me. It did not take me a long time to find the ones I liked, but he disapproved of my taste saying the ones I liked were old fashioned or of poor quality, so after at least three hours in the mall (in another city!) we finally found two pairs that he was happy to buy for me. Because he has always had good taste, and he paid for them, I only complained in my head.

Best friend number 2 is not alone. Best friend number 1 (a.k.a. my husband) is just as picky and patient when it comes to shopping. One time he was also going to buy me a pair of shoes and did not like the ones I liked. He insisted on going to other shops to look, so finally I said I did not really need a new pair, and a few days later, went out shopping by myself.

When it comes to online shopping these two men are even worse. For a couple of months, best friend number 2 (perhaps because he missed the easy life in his home country after working long hours in the States) did not leave his apartment and just ordered everything, practically everything, online and had them delivered to his doorstep. That included his breakfast, lunch and supper. I knew because I saw the goods delivered while we were chatting online.

My husband too can spend hours shopping online. Several times a week for a couple of months this year we had something delivered. They were either books or toys for our son, or teaching materials that he could use to teach our son. (Time and money well spent, so I do not complain.) But yes, he could and still can sit in front of the computer for hours, not programming but shopping!

This makes me wonder if it is only East Asian men who enjoy shopping.

I remember a few years ago, when I was a little more sociable, I asked my non-Asian guy friend if he wanted to go shopping with me (back then there was no female colleague I could hang out with.) Since he did not have anything else to do, he said OK. We were already near the shopping street when he asked me, “So what are you shopping for?” Then I said, “I don’t know yet. I’ll have a look first.” The look on his face was priceless.

Another time, I was grocery shopping with another non-Asian guy friend after lunch, and I wanted to buy plates but couldn’t decide which of the two different plates looked nicer. So I asked him which one he thought was prettier, and he went, “Oh come on, they’re plates. Just pick one. Then, let’s go.” I could not get angry, in fact I laughed because it was exactly what I would have said if somebody had asked me.