My neighbor and I were visiting a few days ago about how much stuff he had in his garage. There were sagging shelves and bulging doors in every direction. He told me he'd been a "collector" since his childhood. He knew almost exactly where to find anything he, or anyone else, might need.

Whenever he visited a store, he felt compelled to buy something just because it was there. If the item had been hard to find he'd buy two. His wife would tell him he didn't need either one of them. I sheepishly admitted that I had a similar affliction. He welcomed me to the "official guy" club. He consoled me by saying it wasn't a character flaw but a part of male genetic engineering. We learn to live with it, and it gets worse as we get older. I was sure my wife would relish hearing his insight.

My wife doesn't understand how I can go into a store and routinely come out with "stuff." She can spend an afternoon at the mall, never leave the store where she entered, and not buy a thing. There have actually been instances where she never left the same clothing department for an entire afternoon. I don't understand how women shop, and neither do my genetically linked brothers, - other men.

Technically, most guys don't need a majority of the things we buy, it just happens. We're drawn to "stuff" the way bees are attracted to the most colorful plants. It has to be that uncontrollable shopping gene that we assumed only women possessed. Now that we're aware that we have it, learning how take advantage of it could have real merit.

The beauty of our predicament is that we can actually blame our shopping urges on genetics. It's conceivably similar to the hormonal thing women experience when they are physically distressed without any observable symptoms.

My neighbor told me he becomes uncomfortable when he wants something and his wife tells him he already has one. She may be comparatively right, but he may not have the most state-of-the-art one of "those." Therein lies a challenge for guys: We must have the latest representation of whatever it is that we think we need. A subsequent dilemma emerges when we determine we need two of "them" in case one breaks, gets misplaced, or can be used to barter another guy out of some of his "stuff."

Surely, by now you're starting to see the depth of male rationale for having "stuff." It seems that women are oftentimes satisfied with "finding" something without actually owning it, while men have always been hunter/gatherers and need to bring "it" home. For the ladies, it's the hunt that counts. Men need to capture something and get "it" into the house. We shouldn't challenge evolution.

My neighbor said he couldn't tell me how many times he'd been complimented by other guys for having those much-needed items that were assumed to be unobtainable. To insure that his "stuff" will remain nearly extinct and potentially valuable to other males, he admitted to being a hoarder. He just can't seem to part with anything but rarely uses much of it.

My wife wears most of her clothes, jewelry, etc, while I simply collect things for the sake of having them. She believes I've actually hidden some things to make sure I'd know exactly where they were when the magical occasions arose that I would use them.

Of course, I don't have a clue what she's talking about or where they are, but I'm sure they're safe and secure. It's like Christmas when I find something that was secured years ago. Ironically, many of these treasures eventually meet their new owners during garage sales.

My neighbor and I concluded that we're almost nearly certain the day will come when we prowl through our "stuff" and uncover an item so valuable that even our wives will be impressed. Until then, we'll have to be content with shopping and acquiring more "stuff" that will undoubtedly become invaluable to our male friends and us and remain a perpetual quandary for females.

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