I evolved as a hunter, not as a gatherer.
I like that idea better than the thought that I am among the shopping challenged.
That’s not to say that I can’t go to a hardware store and procure a pipe fitting. I find the right bin, take the fitting to the counter, slide my magic card, decline a bag and drive away.
That is successful hunting.
A few times a year, I tarry at one of the large home improvement centers, which I still call lumber yards, to see what new contraptions they sell.
That way I know what new tools and widgets exist and where to find the right weapon when a household or automotive emergency arises.
That’s not shopping. That’s scouting.
Once in a while, when on one of these reconnaissance missions, I’ll pick off a target of convenience, provided the pouch in my back pocket holds sufficient ammunition.
But, hand me a long list and drop me in the middle of a grocery store, and I’m a mariner without a compass.
When faced with such a task, I weave through every row trying to spot my targets.
Depending on the length of the list, the mission requires a feat of memory for which I am not always equipped.
I find myself among shelves lined with canned goods and spot black beans. Are they on my list?
When I reach the back of the building, I review the words I haven’t scratched out and repeat the process in reverse order.
I already know that when I reach the front of the store, there will still be one or two items for which I have to seek intelligence information from a gatherer — usually a kindly lady shopper who will smile at me condescendingly and point me in the right direction.
A quick raid on a small grocery to pick up a specific item isn’t bad.
I know where the milk and bread gather. For a more camouflaged item, I just ask the first uniformed clerk I spot.
Shopping for clothes presents a different problem. I generally can locate the men’s shirts. My problem is picking out a suitable one.
The people I work with and the students I teach probably can tell whether I selected that day’s apparel or it was chosen by my wife, Mary, or my daughter, Sarah.
If I get complimented on something I am wearing, one of them chose it.
Socks I handle without consternation.
Even I can pick out a pair of socks that’s not likely to flash a neon message that I did it myself.
As I conclude writing this, my wife finishes the list for my sortie. She assures me no clothes purchase is involved.
I look at the sheet she hands me and take heart.
It’s more than a list. She’s drawn a map of the grocery store and pinpointed the targets.
I suck in my gut and swell my chest. I can do this.