Monday, November 26, 2007

Hunters and gatherers

By Kevin Duling

Back in college, my crop science teacher spent many days of class telling us how we need to approach society and relationships using the “hunter and gatherer” mentality we were born with. He added that women were usually the gatherer type while men preferred to go out and kill something, drag it home, and show their women how great they were at the hunt.

I have witnessed both the hunting and gathering instinct at work in society, like a woman urging her husband to stop at the clothing or fabric store so she can browse through the aisles, hoping to find a great deal. Most men, unhappy because there is nothing to hunt and drag home, fall asleep in the car, dreaming of the day when their newly trained bird dog will make its first successful point.

There is one very important exception to the rule that men are hunters and women are gatherers. That would be the day after Thanksgiving. A typical Thanksgiving for my extended family is to rent a large house on the Oregon coast and spend the week playing cards and arguing over whose turn it is to do the dishes. The day after Thanksgiving usually involves the men going for a long hike while the women run to the outlet mall at 5 a.m. to begin to gather.

I remember one Thanksgiving when I caved in to the urging of the women and agreed to accompany them on this annual Friday shopping ritual. I figured it would be good to get a head start on the Christmas shopping and I would surely find some good deals. The older men in our house warned me about what was in store for me, with a couple of them using an evil giggle I hadn’t heard before.

At 4:30 a.m., the day after Thanksgiving, I was rudely awakened by a pack of giddy ladies all discussing which stores they would go to first. Not wanting to make them late, I skipped taking a shower and just jumped into the vehicle. Typically, these women always wanted me to drive, but not today. I sat back and watched as eight ladies who were all known for their kindness transformed into aggressively mean, scowling monsters letting nothing get in their way.

I hunched down in the back of the suburban when the driver crashed through a large mud puddle, completely soaking a couple unfortunate pedestrians on the sidewalk. The driver, whom I no longer recognized, laughed out loud as the lady in the passenger seat yelled “Go! Go! Go!” with her fist pointing onward.

At 4:50 a.m. we arrived on scene of the outlet mall. I was shocked to see the parking lot was nearly full with lines beginning to form at the entrances to some of the stores. There was no turning back now, so I grabbed my Christmas list and tried to find a store that was not so popular.

At 6 a.m. I had managed to pick a few things off the list and I felt it was time for a doughnut and a nap. I struggled through the crowd, being pushed and shoved like a pinball as these monsters, oh, I mean ladies, glared at me with their red, glowing eyes. Finally, I found the driver of our vehicle, who used to be my sister, and asked for the keys so I could take a nap.

At roughly 8 a.m. I was getting restless, so I managed to get back out into the chaos to see if I could pick some more things off my list. Entering a large department store, I grabbed a cart, hoping it would give me support and balance just in case the monsters should attack again.

I found a few really good deals. I made it to the sock section and there were three pairs of socks left for an incredible price. I grabbed all three! Meandering through the aisles I witnessed a man at the end of the aisle being scolded by a couple of monsters. Apparently he was trying to get into the express lane with 10 items when the limit was 9. People say a picture is worth a thousand words and when his eyes caught mine, well, let’s just say that there was an understanding between us.

As I was bent over looking at some items I noticed a lady with a cart moving very fast away from me. She glanced over her shoulder and her glowing eyes looked right at me. Fear then turned to rage inside me. “Did she just swipe something out of my cart?” I asked myself. “She did; she stole my three pair of socks!” It wasn’t worth the chase as I watched that five foot tall, 100 pound creature roar around the corner.

At 8:50 a.m., with the sale ending in 10 minutes, there was pushing and shoving. One lady was in tears behind me knowing that she wouldn’t make the checkout counter by 9 sharp. Through all the chaos, the manager yelled through the intercom: “Please ladies and the one gentleman, everyone in line at 9 a.m. will get the sale prices!”

While attending Thanksgiving this year at a friend’s house for a change of pace, a woman I have known for years to be one of the most kind, soft-hearted ladies around was planning her shopping trip for Friday. I remember her saying, “It’s time for me to put my nasty hat on, Kevin; we are pulling out the nasty hat!”

There is one day per year where gatherers turn into hunters and the typical hunter needs to disappear, or he will indeed be hunted.

Kevin Duling is a wheat farmer from Maupin, Ore. His stories will be posted on the Capital Press blog every Friday. Comments are welcomed at
Copyright, November 2007, Kevin Duling

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