FLINT - It's the holiday shopping season again. Um, yay!
I know there are people - i.e. women - who enjoy Christmas shopping. I'm just not one of them. To me shopping is a soul-sucking, mentally draining, physically taxing bore. I'd rather run a marathon than go traipse around the mall for an hour. I'd rather watch all of the Republican presidential debates back to back and end to end - twice. I'd rather chew tacks. I'd rather paint a room then watch it dry.
Not that I don't care about you! I do. I want you to receive something nice from me for Christmas. I just wish I didn't have to go get it or pick it out. I wish gift-giving were more like the scene in the old Seinfeld episode where Jerry presents Elaine with a nicely wrapped birthday gift.
She's all excited at what wonders the box will hold. Her eyes are alive. She's smiling. She tears at the paper and bow and it's cash. "Cash?" she says. "You got me cash? What are you, my uncle?"
Personally, I think cash is a great gift. You are welcome to give me cash this Christmas, if you like. I will gladly accept it. But don't ask me later what I spent it on because it won't be stuff from the mall. Why? Because I don't like shopping - haven't you been paying attention?
Here are my Top 5 reasons why:
1) The mall parking lot - It's such a pain. You circle, circle, circle. There's never a spot within a three day hike of the entrance. There are spots near the door but they are never open. Ever. How is that possible? Are they dummy cars - cars the mall put there just so the place would look busy? If real people own them, where are they? Why don't they ever come out of the mall? What could they possibly be doing in there? You'd think people would have to come out sometime to go to work or see the sunshine? But they never seem to. Not the ones who have the close spots, anyway.
Other people come out but they always have the crappy spots out by the street. I know because I stalk them all the way out there in my car. I want their spot - bad. So I inch along behind them pretending that I'm not - whistle, whistle, whistle. They always get me back, though. When they reach their car, they usually sit and make a half hour phone call just to tick me off. I can't blame them. I do the same thing.
2) Foot traffic Foot traffic inside the mall is oddly similar to vehicle traffic outside the mall. There are too many people and too little space. You can't get anywhere. People move slowly. They drift right and weave left while you're trying to get around them, usually because they're yakking on their cellphones. They'll stop suddenly in front of you with no warning. No one signals their turns. There's pushing, shoving, jostling. A few idiots, usually teenagers or testosterone guys, walk against traffic right at you. I hate those guys, I really do. Malls need traffic signals. And police who write tickets. Or vigilantes.
3) Clothes stress me out It's true. There are too many choices. Plus, I have horrible taste, which is also stressful when you're buying for someone. Show me 100 blouses I could buy for my wife and I will pick out the one ugly one. Just ask her. She ends up saying "Oh, that's nice." The pause gives it away.
Even when I do manage to pick out something attractive, I usually get the wrong size. This is not my fault. Women's clothes are insane. Men's clothes come in small, medium and large. Women's clothes come in numbers three, four, 20 but a seven in one brand can be a three in another, which is very stressful. I'm a guy, how am I supposed to know which brand is telling the truth and which brand is lying to its customers so they don't feel fat?
4) Mall foot That's the clinical name I made up for the cramp/ache that hits my feet and back after a half hour in the mall. Why it happens is a mystery. I can play two hours of racquetball without stopping and nothing hurts. Thirty minutes in a mall, I need a hot tub, a masseuse and a chiropractor. My wife says it's all in my mind, which is true. But I also think malls have unusually hard floors.
5) Christmas overload I love Christmas in small doses. But malls don't do anything in small doses. Malls whomp you over the head with Christmas. I'm fine to a point and then all of a sudden I have to resist the urge to smack Santas and kick elves.
Maybe I should shop online this year.
EDITOR'S NOTE - Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist for The Flint Journal, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. For more of his work, visit his blog at blog.mlive.com/flintjournal/aheller. You can e-mail him at