"Oh, whatever shall I do with my gentleman when he accompanies me as I attend to my shopping?" This frequent complaint, uttered by young unmarried ladies and newlyweds, has been asked for centuries. Countless jests and japes have been made of this conundrum throughout the common media, and though the answers provided have been amusing, they certainly do not address the central precept of the question. To whit:
"Why does my young man not enjoy shopping in the same manner as do I? Why does he shuffle along behind me, dejected and sullen as a freshly-beaten servant? How shall I ever convey unto him the importance and excitement of shopping, and how much I treasure our time together?"
It saddens Miss Lurk to tell you this, my poppets, but the unfortunate truth is that your young men would rather enlist in the Army, travel in a cramped steamer ship for six weeks, and die in port from dysentery miles from home than accompany you to even the closest boutique or shoe shoppe, because from their perspectives, the dysentery would at least be somewhat exciting. This is why, when you sweetly ask them to accompany you on your gay errand, they moan and complain as if physically ill.
As much as Miss Lurk would like, this is neither the time nor place to dwell upon the differences (and failings!) between the sexes. Suffice it to say that gentlemen have much in common with their beloved dogs: unless in pursuit of something -- be it ball, stick, pheasant, or other form of prey -- they are constantly underfoot and nipping at one's heels. Oh, but give them something to chase! Thence you shall burst forth from them such energy and desire as you had never before seen, and once their target has been run down and seized, they are only too pleased to return to you with their bounty, delivering it to your feet with a smile and a flourish.
This is because, dear ones, gentlemen and dogs are aggressive hunters, whereas we ladies are placid gatherers. To have your gentleman trail along behind as you shop is as dull and pointless for him as it is for a dog to be yoked to a horse. Instead, Miss Lurk suggests that if you utilize his natural desires to hunt and please, it should make for a more enjoyable (and efficient!) experience for you both.
First, before you embark upon your shoppage, you should effect great consternation at all that you needs must accomplish today. Your young man, if he be truly a gentleman, should practically leap from his chair with desire to assist you in this most arduous of tasks. (And if he does not, ladies, then he is a cad and a bounder and you must cease all interaction with him forthwith!) At this you must smile sweetly while politely declining, suggesting that it would not be proper to task a proper gentleman with tiresome woman's work.
This, ladies, is akin to wagging a stick in front of a dog's nose and saying, in an excited voice, if he desires to fetch it. No man can resist a challenge, after all, and he will be most eager to prove his manhood by performing your "difficult" task with ease, and curry favor with you besides. But you must play this game carefully! If you decline him too readily, he is apt to accept your suggestion that he not be bothered, but if you accept too quickly he may become aware that something is amiss. You must tread the delicate line until he is practically howling with desire to serve you.
Then, and only then, do you appear to concede. Your posture should reflect resignation, but your countenance must show grateful acceptance of his help. With a smile and gentle touch upon his shoulder, inform him in solemn tones that he is no mere shopper, for that would not suit his masculine nature; instead, he is your Autonomous Resource Hunter-Gatherer.
We shall not mention to him that, abbreviated, the ARHG sounds like "argh". It shall be our little secret, yes?
With much to-do, assign your ARHG his quarry. This list may be as long as you think his patience will tolerate, but be aware of two things. For one, you needs must be exceedingly specific! Do not simply tell him to retrieve "some washing powder," for he undoubtedly will return with the wrong kind. Instead, tell him which brand, what size package, how much it should cost, et cetera.
For two, it is best if you give your gentleman a list of items which are not grouped together in one place. For as much as we ladies enjoy pondering the varied merits of different items, your AHRG most enjoys being on the move, on the hunt, searching for an item to bring back to you. Miss Lurk recommends you give him a list of no more than three items, preferably all in different locations, and thence to meet you at a prearranged location. Upon his return, praise his success (or chide his failures, as necessary) and give him yet another list.
In this way, you may shop at your own speed and discretion, whilst giving your gentleman a task at which he can excel. He is pleased to have so handily solved your "petty, girlish problems," and you have enjoyed the benefits of having a man along to do the heavy lifting without having to listen to him complain.
Until next time, my poppets!