It came as shock to me, some years ago, to discover that some women do not like to shop. When I heard someone confess–in rather defensive tones– that she didn’t like to shop, I was tempted to march right up to her and demand she surrender her “WOMAN” card on the spot. I mean– what could cause such an aberration? Lack of estrogen? Not enough cuddling as a young child? Some particularly nasty piggybank trauma?
I mean, women have been shopping and acquiring important and necessary “stuff” since. . . well, since humanity started using “stuff.” Somewhere along the line, a female cave-person must have looked down at the pitted stone she was using to grind grain and thought: “Sheesh, I need a new rock.” She probably looked up at her neighboring cave-mama and grunted “Thelma, wanna go look for a new rock?” And the ubiquitous “shopping trip” was born. Picking up one rock after another, tossing them aside when they weren’t smooth enough or hard enough. . . it gave the gals a chance to get out of the cave for a while and to find something to make their work easier. It also gave them a chance to learn from others’ experience (Don’t pick that rock, it’ll leave grit in the flour), bond and socialize (The women in our clan all use FLAT rocks), improve themselves (Maybe we could trade our special flat rocks to the neighboring clan for some skins), develop language, laws, and finally etiquette. (Always start with the first rock on the left. . .)
It is my personal theory that the shopping trip is actually the foundation of civilization. It certainly is the foundation of politics and government. (Napoleon, let’s go see what’s on sale in Italy and Spain. . . we could pick up a few city-states on the cheap. And maybe some wine country, too– you know how I LOVE Chianti.)
Okay, this blog has really run off the rails. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Shopping. I have another theory. . . how you acquire is every bit as important as what you acquire. Consider the items, objects, clothes, cars– things– that you love and are happiest with. I bet if you think about it you’ll realize that you have an “acquisition story” about it: the place you got it was beautiful, something funny happened, it was a romantic time, or you were with someone who meant a lot to you. That’s basically why shopping for a wedding dress has become such a storied enterprise; young women take mothers and grandmas, aunts and grandpas with them– even whole posses of girlfriends– to share in the experience. That’s my excuse for acquiring a kitchen full of mugs: some artful, some practical, and some downright what-was-I-thinking gaudy. I bought them to commemorate trips and to this day, I can tell you what the trip was and who was with me.
I was born into a shopping family. My mom was at her best when she was shopping, and my sister and I loved going shopping with her. Some of my favorite memories of her were those Saturday shopping trips and having lunch at the department store restaurant. . . where I felt all grown up. We made a day of it. We bought. We bonded. We laughed. And I learned. The thread count of good linens. The vocabulary of fabric: damask, duck, twill, poplin, jersey, knit, denim. The way to tell the quality of a pair of shoes or a piece of housewares. And, yes, the way to save money while getting what you wanted. The sale rack. (The sale rack AGAIN?) My mother was oddly both thrifty and generous, and I learned a lot, without realizing I was being taught.
Through most of my life I have been careful with money and my shopping was mostly on an “as needed” basis. Then my income rose and I caught a particularly virulent strain of “Affluenza.” I shopped for things I never thought I’d have. I finally managed to furnish my home the way I wanted and to travel and I even bought a special car– a fancy car. Because. . . because. . . I JUST HAD TO HAVE IT.
That’s another theory of mine. Sometimes, you just have to have it. Whatever “it” is. It might be a silk dress, or a pair of Jimmy Choos or a king size bed or a special set of dishes . . . or a hot sports car. . . something that makes your heart race and your knees weaken and makes you feel giddy with pleasure. It’s my firm opinion that everybody should have a couple of those purchases in their life. Something that expresses who they are and what they love to do. . . and maybe something of who they’d like to be.
Interestingly, the Affluenza has passed and I’m content with smaller, though no less meaningful purchases these days. I’m a fiend for exotic teas and squealed with delight when I discovered the “flowering teas” that bloom into a beautiful little arrangement in your teapot. I have a thing for socks– and lately the new yarns and ways of knitting produce some of the coziest and cushiest socks known to humankind. Napoleon would have invaded North Carolina to get these socks! I’m a sucker for textures, and every once in a while, as I walk by a merchandise display, I’ll drag my fingers across some fabric that stops me in my tracks and I just. . . Gotta Have It!
What about you? What is it you can’t resist when you go shopping? What’s your weakness– or your strength in shopping? What was your biggest, best “deal”? Who taught you to shop or to look for bargains?
Come on, Riders. . . talk to me!