Tracking wild animals prepares hunters from Zimbabwe for shopping in Wichita

01/15/2012 2:41 PM

01/15/2012 2:41 PM

When two professional wild game hunters from Zimbabwe, Gavin Rorke and Anthony Howland, strolled into Bradley Fair’s Victoria’s Secret last week, they had that “fish-out-of-water” look.

Gavin is a hunter and director of Gavin Rorke Safaris. Anthony went through the rigorous four-year apprenticeship to become a professional hunter and is on Gavin’s staff.

Guess that makes them hunters out of the bush — and a blast to watch as they shopped.

Gavin comes to the United States every year, visits friends he met through his business, and, with a fairly detailed shopping list from Debbie, his wife of 21 years, he shops. My friend Helen is part of the ritual each year.

Gavin and Anthony went bird hunting at Flint Oaks the day before, and both seemed to think hunting a pheasant was easier than locating a duvet at Bed, Bath & Beyond in just the right color. And shams.

“We have all those pillows on the bed that we chuck on the floor,” Gavin said, shrugging his shoulders. “But it’s safer to keep quiet. Debbie likes the pillows.”

The couple has three sons, ages 18, 16 and 4. All are athletes; all like to hunt. Their dad was very careful to make sure the duvets for their rooms looked masculine. For the master bedroom, he chose a gray damask duvet and matching sheets. It would go with the ones he bought on another trip to Wichita. Giving the gray sheets the eye as an interior decorator would do, he said, “Too much gray? It looks OK? I’ll put it in my trolley.” The trolley was the shopping cart that was filling up quickly. “Once you’re in the bed, you don’t see it anyway.”

So much for the interior decorator.

Out of the bedding department and in the kitchen section of the store, Gavin and Anthony looked at the French press coffee makers.

“This says ‘unbreakable,’ but the staff could break it,” Gavin said. “They can break anything.”

And apparently can clean anything.

He and Anthony got a big kick out of telling the story about the kitchen staff and the new frying pans.

“I bought the Teflon, non-stick pans and the non-stick flippers and all. We had the meal, then went to bed, then in the morning we couldn’t figure out where the silver frying pans came from. The kitchen staff had scrubbed off all the Teflon. I don’t know how they did it! There was not a speck of Teflon left,” Gavin said. “They’re not used to anything but cast iron.”

“They used river sand and a mesh thing, but they got it all off,” Anthony said.

With a bunch of coupons in hand, it was time to check out.

According to the professional hunters, saying there’s not much shopping in Zimbabwe is an understatement.

“Debbie drives to Johannesburg to shop, but it’s an eight-hour drive,” Gavin said.

No wonder she sends her husband to the United States with a list.

But the next stop, Victoria’s Secret, wasn’t for anything on the list. The guys were on a mission to get something small in a size small for a mutual friend’s obviously petite girlfriend.

“Whew,” Gavin, a bear of a man, said as the hot pink interior of the store reflected on his beaming face. “My wife would love this place. That’s why I don’t bring her.”

Here were a couple of guys who have faced elephants and tigers and other wild game head-on, but they had such deer-in-the-headlights looks that the salesperson said, “It’s OK, don’t be afraid. It’s safe in here.” Anthony was holding up a pink and black lace thong as if it would turn and bite him.

Both decided after choosing a few items that there wasn’t much material for the amount of money spent. At least it wouldn’t take up much room in luggage, which is always a concern on these shopping excursions.

With the little pink bag in hand, it was back to the car. Next stop, Walgreens, where Gavin went in search of the exact lipstick his wife had on the list. He dug in his jeans pocket for the list, which was looking a little worn.

“Blushing Berry, not Mulberry,” he said. Three tubes. Well, that should last awhile,” he said, scanning the entire wall of hundreds of cosmetic products. Gavin looked very closely to make sure it was the right one. L’Oreal, correct shade name, correct number, bingo! But there were only two tubes left in the must-have shade. Helen assured them there were plenty of other Walgreens stores they could go to and find the third tube.

Anthony continued to be amazed at all the merchandise offered in every store they went to and the number of stores to choose from. “Here (in the U.S.) if you want something, just one thing, you have a choice of five kinds of that one thing, or more than five,” he said. “In Zimbabwe, you might be able to get what you want, but there are no choices.”

Their next stop was Best Buy, and that’s when I left the shop-till-they-drop trio. The wild game hunters and their guide were off to bag a new computer.

But Gavin assured me he’d be back.

Mark your calendar! — Granted, the cars at the Starbird-Devlin Rod and Customs Charities Car Show, Friday through Sunday at Century II, 225 W. Douglas, will be awesome. But so will the fashion show. Yes, there is a fashion show, so come see some of your favorite media types modeling the latest fashions from Dillard’s. The fashion show will be at 2 p.m. Saturday. See Friday’s GO! section for additional event details.

What’s your fave? — Quite a few people have written in to tell me about their favorite cosmetic product. If you haven’t done so, please e-mail, call or write a letter. Let us know what product you simply wouldn’t want to do without.

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