Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Now here's a fellow who takes the phrase "shop 'til you drop" to a whole new level -- like, the seventh floor:

An aggravated man leapt from an upper-level mall balcony to his death because his girlfriend refused to stop shopping, witnesses said. Tao Hsiao, 38, was at the Golden Eagle International Shopping Center in Xuzhou, China, for five hours on Dec. 7 when his lady insisted that they check out another shoe store. "He told her she already had enough shoes, more shoes than she could wear in a lifetime and it was pointless buying any more," an eyewitness said. "She started shouting at him accusing him of being a skinflint and of spoiling Christmas, it was a really heated argument." Tao apparently could not handle any more name-calling — or shopping for that matter.

This is not the kind of behavior General Tso fought and died for. The incident led to a roundtable discussion led by world-renown behavioral expert Piers Morgan. The takeaway was that Christmas shopping is stressful. A real psychiatrist said that, by the way. What nobody pointed out was that if every man who found himself in this situation behaved the same way, there'd be more jumpers at Christmastime than there are at your average parachuting class in a year.

For the real lowdown, I turned to my wife -- an armchair Sinologist and the only person I know who's actually visited China. As she explained it, there's more than simple yuletide stress at play here. Chinese culture prizes males more than females, and are raised like little princes lacking the kind of coping skills necessary to to deal with life's daily ravages -- like, oh, shoe shopping with their girlfriends.

But thanks to the government's one-child law, these now-grown up princes have become something of a glut on the market. By 2020, China will have 30 million more men than women trolling singles bars or tea houses or wherever they go to find xìngbié. Women, therefore, hold the whip hand over there even more than they do here. If you're an American man in any kind of a relationship with a woman, you'll know just how terrifying that idea is.

Christmas shopping stress is a fairly new phenomenon for China, even though Christmas over there isn't so much a holiday as it is an excuse to put up chintzy tinsel, gaudy lights, and, of course to buy, buy, BUY -- just like it is in America. But we've got years of experience over our Chinese brethren. If they really want to get used to stress, they should have their own faux-Thanksgiving so just so they can man up by shopping on Black Friday. Chinese guys think it's tough shoe-shopping? Wait 'til they get a load of battling a storeful of angry, sleep-deprived shoppers who are all after the same flat-screen TV going for 1800 yen. They'll be begging to visit the Jimmy Choo outlet faster than you can say "pork buns."


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