Why Stuff Works

Because who cares how?

Q: Why do women shop?

A: In the malls, the men wait. They sit in the little leather chairs in the center of the malls crossings and look aggrieved, bored, or even slightly suicidal. Their pain is undeniable, and is one of the lesser acknowledged examples of suffering in the modern world. Meanwhile, the women careen through the aisles, sniffing out the bargains, gluttonous in their desire to purchase, acquire, triumph. Why do women shop obsessively, while men are satisfied to purchase without such lengthy searches? Why is going shopping with women so torturous for men?

The reason for this, dear friend, begins with the Murri, an Aboriginal tribe of Australia. As you know, Australia was first populated roughly 50,000 years ago by people carried by floating debris over the sea from Southeast Asia. The Murri tribe of northeast Australia came specifically from the island of Vanuatu. Efforts to trace this group previous to their settling of Vanuatu have previously been unsuccessful, but deep in the heart of the Vanuatu rainforests, a terrifying secret has recently been discovered. A group of scientists studying the Pied goshawk (Accipiter albogularis), a raptor species native to Vanuatu, have recently published findings that these birds have developed certain unusual physiological and behavioral systems.

Among these is a tacky and slightly pungent oil that is emitted by their talons. Used primarily to gain purchase on the tough skin of the small Fiji banded iguana that is their main prey species, this oil, when combined with the hemolymphic blood of the iguanas, results in a mixture poisonous to mammals. The current findings suggest that the advent of humans to Vanuatu marked a ecosystem change and changed the future of the human race forever.

Let me paint you a picture. An adolescent Pied goshawk soars over the coastline of Vanuatu, seeking prey. It has been many days since he last ate, and he is hungry. Beneath the shade of a gaiac shrub, a Fiji banded iguana moves slightly. The small movement is just enough to catch the attention of the goshawk, who dives quickly, talons extended. The iguana scrambles for the safety of a rock pile, but is snatched up by the powerful goshawk. Hours later, sated from a delicious meal, the goshawk returns to the sky, seeking an afternoon snack. Below on the beach, a human searches for mollusks to eat. Again, the goshawk dives, but this time he’s gotten more than he bargained for. The human is much larger than it appeared from the sky, and while the goshawk grazes the human’s arm and is nearly brained for his troubles, he is ultimately unsuccessful.

Several days later, the human from the beach begins to froth at the mouth (some of this is speculation extrapolated from the morphology of the human specimens discovered on Vanuatu) and behave erratically. The mixture of oil and iguana blood has entered her central nervous system, and caused a certain fascination with bright objects and items held in high esteem by her tribe. She became greedy and lusted after physical objects, going to great lengths to attain them. The research suggests that this may be a result of some unknown interaction with the limbic system, but forthcoming findings will be more useful in clarifying this point.

This trait has a viral component that is transferred to her children, and her children’s children. For unknown reasons, males are less susceptible to the voracious acquisition trait (VA). Over many thousands of years, the VA trait was filtered throughout the continent of Australia, across tribes and geographical boundaries. Anthropologists are feverishly at work trying to connect this genetic component to some of the aboriginal concepts of Dreamtime.

Up until the 19th century, Australia was primarily isolated from the world’s human populations, so this dangerous trait remained localized. However, when the British government began transferring prisoners to and from Australia, VA spread throughout Great Britain, and, from there, to America, Europe, and many other industrialized countries (first world countries have greater rates of travel between countries).

Today, VA is usually concealed beneath careful socialization to generosity and compassion. However, in America, where capitalism has encouraged greed and lustful use of economic wealth, VA has reached unprecedented influence. Best seen in large malls, the VA trait causes women to barrel each other over to get to the halfprice rack. They fight over coupons, pants, dressing rooms in a fixed obsession that rages through their very DNA. Meanwhile, men, who remain markedly free of VA, are forced to watch the women in their lives morph into ravenous beasts, unassuaged by anything except the surge of flesh against the department store counter.

Maybe you have VA. Maybe you don’t. There are no reliable measurable tests for VA. However, if the height of advertisement of the Christmas season leaves you yearning for something more, something soft, and something new and bright and shiny, beware. That, dear readers, is why men hate shopping, and women feed on bargains.

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