Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Wal-Mart Widowers

I went to Wal-Mart yesterday at lunch to do a little window shopping (I’m currently without credit cards, so there was no big danger I’d go wild with impulse purchases). In the foyer between the sidewalk and the actual shopping space, there are two large benches, and when I visited yesterday, four elderly men were occupying them, two to a bench.

These gentlemen had weathered faces, and all wore some sort of cap or hat. They sat silently, staring ahead at nothing in particular, much like Patrick Leahy. I knew what they were waiting for. They waited, minute by minute, hour by hour, for their wives to emerge from the bowels of the store, loaded down with spatulas and shelf paper and frozen dinners and Capri pants and Golden Girls DVDs.

These men, looking like hardscrabble farmers from an old Norman Rockwell painting, preferred sitting in a drafty foyer on hard benches to following their wives around. I instantly dubbed them the Wal-Mart Widowers.

My Muley imagination caught fire, and I got to thinking -- why don’t more stores that cater primarily to women have areas where boyfriends and husbands could cool their heels? I’ve seen very few businesses, large or small, with such a feature. One I do remember was a huge clothing store at an outlet mall, which had a “hubby room” stocked with a few ratty chairs and an old TV. Nevertheless, it was packed every time I saw it.

If I were a do-gooder, big government, tax-and-spend type of guy, I think I would propose that all businesses above a certain square footage be required to provide lounge areas for men to use when their female partners are shopping. I’d require at least a 60” plasma screen HDTV, equipped with all the sports, news and business channels, and a library containing all editions of Big John’s Bathroom Reader, as well as current subscriptions to magazines such as Field and Stream, Sports Illustrated and Reader’s Digest (for the non-sports types).

Furthermore, business owners would be required to provide a refrigerator stocked with soft drinks and snacks, as well as a large coffee urn always filled with regular and decaf coffee. There would need to be comfy couches and recliners, and by law there would have to be one TV remote provided per visitor to discourage fistfights. In large facilities, I’d also require a few cots with fresh linens. And in states that allowed it, maybe a table where games of Texas Hold 'Em poker would be dealt.

Think how much longer women would stay in stores (and buy) if they knew their men were taken care of, and wouldn’t be nagging them every 10 minutes, “Aren’t you through yet?” The men would instead be asking them, “Are you sure you looked at everything, cupcake?”

Of course, to be fair (and legal), we’d have to require stores that cater primarily to men, such as sporting goods stores, tobbaconists, and building supply and auto parts stores, to provide waiting areas for women as well. They could stock these with women’s magazines, women’s drinks and snacks (such as those little sandwiches with the crusts cut off), a TV equipped to receive shopping channels and the Lifetime Network, and we’d also require a masseur/masseuse and manicurist to be on site during operating hours to offer complimentary services.

What do you think? Any other features you'd like to see mandated?


Laura said...

Before I got to those last paragraphs I was going to argue that men's stores needed an area for women. Then I was relieved that you included the idea. Then I was annoyed. What kind of women want little sandwiches with the crust cut off and their nails done in a sporting goods store? My solution: install little internet cafes (gratis, of course) in all the stores. We'll all stay happy.

Muley said...

Good point -- I'm for that Internet cafe idea. And I was having fun with the sandwich thing. What women would really want to snack on, I've learned, is CHOCOLATE, and lots of it.

Jeff H said...

Well, thanks for nothing. I received a tax increase notice in the mail just today, detailing the new "Muley WalMart Widowers' Tax", providing funds earmarked for businesses wishing to build the hubby lounges.

Nettie said...

I'm game for the Internet cafes, even though I don't have anybody to wait on. And I do like Lifetime. I used to be ashamed about it, but hey, I'm a woman, right?