Friday, January 05, 2007

Save the men

Charity calls for ethical treatment of men during January sales

Michael Logan

Men For Ethical Shopping, a recently-formed charity, on Friday called for urgent action as the January sales saw hundreds of forlorn men abandoned outside shops across Budapest while their partners searched for the perfect bargain.

“This year has been one of the worst so far,” István Orbán, the director of MFES, said at a press conference in the West End shopping centre, one of the major hotspots for abandonment. “Bargain-hunting women have gone into a frenzy and this means that there has been a significant increase in men left to fend for themselves.”

Orbán took journalists on a tour through the shopping centre, pointing to the many clusters of dishevelled, confused and often shivering men squatting outside stores or walking in aimless circles with no apparent goal. “These men have been completely forgotten,” he said. “Once their wives get an eye on that sexy off-the-shoulder number that has been slashed by 80%, their husbands no longer exist for them.”

One man said that his wife had disappeared into Mango two hours previously and had yet to emerge. “I have no idea what she’s doing in there. I’m tired, I’m hungry and I’m gasping for a cigarette, but I’m too afraid to go in and find her,” he said, tears welling up in his eyes. “It’s a jungle in there.”

Orbán said that fear of entering the shop in pursuit of the wife or girlfriend was a common complaint amongst men suffering from Post Traumatic Abandonment Disorder. “Men quite simply don’t have the skills to survive in such an environment,” he said. “One victim was torn apart when he got caught up in a skirmish over the last Gucci handbag left on the sale rack. He was as helpless as a newborn.”

According to Orbán, a tragedy is waiting to happen, and he pointed to the many men leaning over railings on the upper floors of the centre. “It may look like these men are just trying to look down the tops of women passing underneath, which they probably are, but they are also considering throwing themselves off. I know. I’ve been there.”

Orbán started the charity after his wife left him outside Zara for four hours on Boxing Day while she scoured the bargain bins for designer jeans cut to at least 50% of their retail value. When she finally emerged, he was forced to carry all of the bags to the car even though severely weakened by missing out on lunch. Even now it is clearly painful for him to talk about it.

“It was horrible, like being in solitary confinement,” he said. “I had nothing to do apart from pick my nose and scratch my arse. You wouldn’t treat a dog that way. Well, you would, but at least it would get its tummy rubbed by sexy women passing by.”

Orbán is convinced that shopping centres must act now in order to prevent mass suicides, and called for the institution of a “Man Crèche”, where women can drop off their husbands and boyfriends and pick them up when they leave.

“It’s quite simple, really,” he said. “All they need is a room with two elements: a wide screen TV, preferably showing a football match or pornography, and beer. Obviously some gadgets, such as iPods and PS3s would be desirable, and a lap dancer would also help keep the men occupied. Perhaps upmarket malls could add these extra features as a selling point.”

Orbán pointed out that a Man Crèche would make financial sense for shopping centres, as it would maximise the amount of time a woman could spend shopping. “While most women are hard to distract once focused on a bargain, their partner deciding to end it all by taking a dive from the top floor and splattering his brains out in the food court can sometimes do the job,” he said. “If centre managers can prevent this from happening, it means more cash in the till.”

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