Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Retail therapy .....A bio-psycho-historical perspective

My dear fiscally tortured, commercially squashed ,fellow impulsive shoppers.

The last post educated you apes about the chain of unfortunate events set in motion by the evolution. These events gave birth to almost all the evils that plague the earth today. 

The ascent of Money ....the most potent intoxicant known to our unfortunate species.

Apart from greed, inequalities, colonialism, militarism, war, exploitation, slavery and chewing gum , Money..and hence commerce... gave rise to another monster......A monster which surpasses all others as the source of human suffering.  All of the above mentioned maladies that have afflicted the human race , may or may not have tormented you directly. But this affliction affects you squarely..directly... mercilessly and takes no  prisoners.

Yes gentlemen, I am talking about those brain wrecking trips to the Malls/Markets/Stores/Hawkers ...endless deliberations on what to buy ..the colors ..shades.. the mindbogglingly enormous problem of choice . I am referring to those pitiable cries that your mind utters as it is being drowned in the deep waters of financial ruin , weighed down by the sink stones of credit card bills .I , my fellow Apes of masculine gender, present to you, our common enemy....Shopping 

 The male species have been crying foul for centuries and on the other hand the female species have shown no sign of acknowledging that something is wrong with the whole business. This paradox has intrigued the thinkers and scientists since time immemorial. Is it the old fashioned propensity of humans to gather more and more that is at work, or is it something else.(in fact, Aristotle was driven to philosophy by his wife's passion for buying  camel skin sandals from Egypt and indigo robes from Asia Minor, sold by the Persian merchants ). The answer was found after a couple of millennia , by sheer accident.

Cross comparative analysis has been done on the craniums of the fossilized skeletons found in paleolithic sites and the skulls of humans in the ruins of bronze age cities.Studies have been conducted on the pickled grey matter of the Egyptian mummies.Early medieval scientists have raided graveyards and studied the skulls and the brains of departed fellow humanoids. Pioneering Victorian surgeons have peeped into the cranial cavities while attempting to cure common cold. This quest has continued to the age of Brain Mapping and MRI and has generated truckloads of data.

All through the several centuries of research into the mysteries of the walnut shaped organ occupying our heads, there has been one common finding.It has been found that the Nucleus Accumbens, or the reward center of the brain has,through the ages, shown an increase in size and prominence in the females of the species. This puzzled the scientists to no end but they couldn't explain this. The data was filed and the scholars moved on to work on other more important scientific pursuits like developing better smelling anti lice shampoo.

Then one fine day....some nerdy researcher...wanted to have fun..and his idea of orgasmic fun was playing with statistical data . He superimposed this cranial data on the economic data of the various civilizations of the world. He was amazed by the pattern that emerged.  

The increase pattern in the size of the Nucleus Accumbens matched exactly with the increase in trade and commerce through the ages.

 This finding caused a renewed interest in this fascinating subject of the interrelation between the development of the brain and the emergence of retail markets and vica verca. Universities were flooded with funding offers . Whole new Departments of Economic Psychology and Departments of  Transactional Neurotics were set up to delve into this field. MIT even created a Samuel Moore Walton Chair of Comparative Neuronomics ...of course funded by Wal-Mart.

Concerted multidisciplinary effort resulted in the identification of the true nature of the problem.Test conducted on female mice helped crack the puzzle. The Female mice were exposed to shelves full of cheese of different colors and textures , gleaming feeding bowls ..and other stuff that the mice find to be interesting. This resulted in abnormal secretion of Estrogen and increase in the size of reward lobes. More tests were conducted..this time on human subjects..cheese being replaced by designer clothes..cosmetics..and of course The results were incredibly similar . A historical discovery had been made.The increased secretions and the resultant increase in the size of Nucleus Accumbens propels the females of the species into a frenzy of uncontrolled purchases and it is followed by an depressive episode of self doubts over the nature of purchases ,as the estrogen levels decline.

The scientists named this phenomena as The Compulsive Serendipitous Transactional Yearning Syndrome...or the COSTLY Syndrome. The syndrome's origin was explained as thus...during the good old day of apehood , the females were responsible for gathering and the males for hunting. Hunting provided a solid nutrition base but gathering provided finer things in life,like bones to be made into neck pieces..skins to be fashioned into latest high fashion loincloths. The Nucleus Accumbens worked normally , the choices being limited. Bones were all white...skins all smelt as bad. But as the civilization and trade brought about an unprecedented explosion of choice...this over burdened the circuits and the lobe started acting funny. Things have been going downhill ever since.

This discovery has exposed a great historical injustice. Generations of males have blamed , abused and embarrassed the females over their seemingly irrational and self destructive purchase habits. They have sulked for days after their wives have gone out and bought themselves their 269th pair of fancy footwear. They have had to be pushed and shoved from one store to another , after their wives have spent only a few hours evaluating a few hundred different shades of maraschino red chiffon fabric...and dismissed the store to be low on choice. 

The truth is that the females are as much a victim of this anomaly embedded in their genetic blueprint as are the men. They cant help it . Shopping is an instinctive, involuntary reflex reaction to the external stimuli of the sight  of goodies filled endless shelves in malls and stores.  Its a chemically triggered brain impulse, same as the sight of a chilled bottle of beer induces instant throat choking thirst in the male apes. The male species needs to sensitize itself . The need is to deal with the situation with a great amount of care and thoughtfulness. She needs your support. A few tips are given below.

Firstly,the male species should strive to be physically fit. Apart from being a cerebral exercise of the extreme variety, shopping also entails great physical effort. ( A comparable situation would be playing chess with a gorilla who has the IQ of an Einstein ). A fighting fit husband shall endure miles of walking in the malls/markets/store aisles with a smile , all the time carrying half a tonne of shopping bags.It will also safeguard your heart when you sign the bills. This will keep her happy. So bye bye pizza and beer.....hello treadmill.

During the course of  expedition into the retail kingdom, you may be asked for your opinion on stuff that is in consideration. Be very very careful here. An immediate response is a recipe for serious trouble...she will take it as a sign of non seriousness and your not paying attention...and just wanting to end the ordeal soon....and she is probably correct. Take your time..put in a lot of ummmmmms and well lemme sees in your answer. DO NOT...i repeat, do not appear to be certain of your opinion in the first instance. Appear to be evaluating the choices with the seriousness you will reserve for calculating the amount of beer needed and the choice of snacks to be ordered before you sit down to watch the World Cup match with your beer buddies. If you can do this you have ensured another peaceful evening .

Develop a good memory. She may , after a couple of days of the retail expedition , have that episode of self doubt over the stuff bought. You are now in a minefield. Under no circumstances fuel her doubts .....stand by the opinion you gave. Any deviation will be caught, noted, tucked away in memory and will be used to give you hell later. To avoid this you need to remember what opinion you gave in the first place.

Then there is the question of Guilt Purchases. She may, after spending the equivalent of the GDP of a small African nation on girly stuff , suddenly feel guilty about not buying you anything.To offset this guilt you may be imposed upon with something you do not want. Under no circumstances refuse that red polka dotted shirt with yellow sleeves. Accept it as you would accept an oxygen cylinder while stranded  in outer space.... with gratitude in your teary eyes.

The above mentioned simple measures will go a long way in dealing with the symptoms of the COSTLY Syndrome. Please remember , a cure is not possible, only palliative care can be given. Compassion and empathy are the terms to remember. Both genders need to stick together and brave this out till the devolutionaries bring about the devolution and we go back to our old tree swinging ways.

So, The Preaching Monkey ends another sermon about the evils of evolution.

Keep the faith....and keep shopping.

Long live the Devolution.

1 comment:

  1. Nice piece! You buy civilisation by paying taxes, as Justice. Oliver Wendell Holmes said; and you buy peace funding the shopping expeditions of your better half, I suppose!