Does the prospect of going to a mall this time of year make the men in your life resemble cranky, whiney, exhausted kindergarteners who are clearly in need of a snack and a nap?
I don’t know what it is about the holiday season. The rest of the year my husband hardly puts up a fuss when we need to “go grab a few things at the mall,” but come the end of November he develops a severe case of Shopophobia. He stomps his feet like a wild man and shakes his head like a whirly bird at the mere mention of the words “Nordstrom,” “free gift wrap” or, heaven forbid the dreaded “parking lot.”
To tell you the truth this behavior reminds me a lot of my son-when he was five.
Which is why I was so very amused to read in the Los Angeles Times this week about a shopping center in Germany with a play area for men. BoyCare for men. Brilliant. It’s called “Maennergarten,” as in kindergarten for men. Truly brilliant.
While savvy shopping areas have bars where men get blitzed and women browse boutiques, this program is modeled after kindergarten. According to the travel website www.travel.spotcoolstuff.com, when couples arrive at the mall, the woman drops off her presumably-potty-trained male significant other at the ” Maennergarten.” She pays about $14 to leave him there and goes off to shop till she drops.
And, just like the first day of summer camp, visitors to the “Maennergarten” are given nametags and the women are issued receipts for the men they drop off. “Nurses” serve the men hot meals and cold beers and offer them televised football, power tools and remote control cars to play with.
“Maennergarten” manager Alexander Stein told BBC News “the idea came from a female customer who thought it would be a good way of getting rid of her husband so she could shop in peace. She found it all too stressful and thought this might be the solution. Both were very happy with the way it turned out.”
When I quizzed my husband and some male friends about the idea of a man cave in the mall they were predictably-and scarily stereotypically-enthusiastic.
While several suggested they should have bikini clad dancing girls, some guys had very specific visions for their versions of what would make a “Maennergarten” nirvana.
J thought “topless massages would be a big hit.” K said “it should have a ‘champagne room,” like they have in strip clubs. But the wives pay their husbands’ entry fee.” I’m not sure what that means exactly, but I suspect that laps and dancing are involved.
“Bacon,” said M.
“It should basically be a BEST BUY with wall-to-wall 3-D televisions (one per patron), buttery soft Barcaloungers, video games, every movie ever made on-demand, bikini clad dancers/masseuses/bartenders/therapists serving unlimited all-you-can-eat sushi, tacos, pizza and beer,” said A, who is shockingly still single. “Oh, and it should be sacred ground: No wives, girlfriends or significant others allowed. The only way they can collect their man is to call ahead on their cell phone when they’re done shopping.”
Clearly he’s given this some thought.
But my favorite response of all came from B, who said, “I believe that Habitat for Humanity should set up near every mall, so we could spend several hours helping out our fellow man by building homes for the disadvantaged, while our significant others join in the commercial feeding frenzy: give a little yin to their yang, to insure cosmic balance in the universe, or… bikini clad dancing girls and big screens.”