Friday, May 29, 2009

Was I Born Without the Shopping Gene?

Let’s get right to the point. I don’t like to shop.

And let me make another point before I get on my soapbox – I do NOT think negatively of anyone who DOES like to shop.

There are times when I know that enjoying the art of shopping would be good, like when we’re on vacation. My husband and other relatives like to cruise the outdoor malls in the tourist areas. He likes looking for art, Christmas presents, or something unique for our house. My sister-in-law has a serious talent for spotting a bargain a mile away. My children don’t mind shopping because they are sure to get ice cream from one of the desert stores interspersed with the boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries.

If I liked shopping, there would be more bonding time with my family. I would have most of the Christmas shopping done during the summer, and I’d have some neat art that would make my house guests ask, “Where’d you get that?” which would lead to interesting conversations. Hmmm…

I’m okay for one big shopping trip during the vacation, and I can usually last two to three hours if I don’t get hungry. If I have to endure a second shopping trip to the same place we’ve already been, I am such a drag to everyone else. I have recently learned to stay in our dwelling and let them happily go.

For me, shopping is a necessity. If I need jeans, I go to the store of choice and focus on the jeans; not that I can’t be distracted. A well organized store, with mannequins dressed in coordinated outfits is a distraction. I love it when clothes are matched and displayed. There aren't many mannequins in stores now, but just seeing a complete outfit hanging on a rack or wall works, too. I visualize myself in the outfit, decide the future use for it, try it on, and buy it (maybe) – a distraction from the jeans - that cost me.

A sale sign or a 50% off sign gets my attention too, but as much as I love a bargain, I don’t do well when it requires me to look through racks and racks of clothes that have rhyme nor reason for being placed on that particular rack. It is completely overwhelming!

Even having someone with me doesn’t help. Recently, I had a conversation with someone who is also shopper-challenged. When a friend asked her to go shopping, she said, “And do what - look at clothes?”

One way to entice me to shop with a friend is to include a meal in the trip. Eat first, and then I will watch YOU shop. For me, it’s pure socializing. If I say that I’m “shopping,” my body will shut down within an hour and I’ll start to feel the drag and the headache.

My last shopping excursion was a week ago. The day started at 6 a.m. with my usual school day routine. Later, the kids were participating in the Piano Guild at the university, so I picked them up from school at 11:30ish. A few hours later, everyone breathed a sigh of relief to be done playing several memorized pieces for a judge, and to have scored well. I treated them to a trip to the mall as a reward for doing what Mommy “persuaded” them to do. Plus, I could get shoes for them that they desperately needed.

We enjoyed lunch together before heading out to the shoe store and the teeny-bopper stores. No success at the shoe store that usually has a good selection of shoes for narrow feet: my first frustration - a big one. Next on the list: shorts for my thirteen year old. This is where I really need patience. Her modus operandi is to hem and haw about which store to go to. She picks one, enters, stands in one spot, then S-L-O-W-L-Y picks up an item, stares at it, ponders… I have to tell myself, “Let her shop peacefully,” until I can’t take it anymore.

“Why don’t you just go in the fitting room and try it on!”

She bought the shorts.

In the mean time, the other two want to go to the popular tween stores and are beginning to start the “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy” chime. I can feel my blood pressure rising, but I’m still outwardly calm. Inwardly, I’m still angry about the lack of narrow shoes in the so-called “good” shoe store, and how much time we spent there, to come out with NOTHING. I failed at my mission!

Eventually, I hit the brick wall. I had to go…now…to the car…home. Apologies were voiced to the young ones for not getting them anything (or did I?), with promises to take them later in the week. I walked swiftly through the mall, taking for granted that my three little ducklings were behind me. They let me know they were there when I heard them bemoaning, “Can’t we just go into Claire’s, just for a minute?”
"No! Let’s go! "
That evening, I think they had cereal for dinner, or maybe Oodles of Noodles. I wouldn’t know because I went to my bedroom, where eventually, I lay prostate across my bed, comatose, periodically pounced on by a hyper dog, or forced to utter a few words by a perplexed child asking, "Why are you tired, Mommy?" I had been defeated…once the shopping mall.

All throughout my life, I’ve heard comedians make jokes about women and shopping, how dangerous we are with a credit card, how we have more shoes than Imelda Marcos, or whoever the current shoeaholic is.

I can’t relate.

True, my closet is full, and I try to stay a step or two above frumpy, but at what cost: last minute desperation shopping, boredom, frustration? But I’ll admit that sometimes I happily hit a home run!

"What happened to my shopping gene?"
Do you have the shopping gene?


Judy Thomas said...

I once read a book about our styles when we shop- we are either satisficers or maximizers. Maximizers comparison shop, weigh the various options and features, mull their decisions over, try to get the most out of the purchase...and they are often unhappy with their selections. Satisficers are the "good enough" shopper. When I took the test to see which I was, I found I was an extreme satisficer. I dislike shopping- for a wedding I gave myself 15 minutes in one store to buy a dress and 15 in another to get shoes- and I did it. I shop like a man (well, like most men)- go in, get what I need, get out. I find as I get older that shopping and buying unnecessary stuff does not fit my values to "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." Every item we buy has an environemntal cost and many have a social cost as well (think sweatshop).

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Hilary said...

I don't particularly enjoy shopping either. It's easier for me to pick an item and go for that one item alone. I have better luck with housewares than with clothes and even better luck shopping for someone else than myself. I'm too easily frustrated and find that if I can't locate what I want in a minimal amount of time in the size I need at the price I want, well, then I guess I don't need it. Of course, that would explain why I'm still wearing clothes from the '90s, but that's another story for another day. .

Anita said...

JUDY, thanks for schooling me on satisficers and maximizers. I took a quick look on Google, too. You can probably guess where my tendency leans, although I'm not extreme. I found, tried on, and bought my wedding dress in about 45 minutes.

Anita said...

HILARY, let's see...jeans from the 90s that sqeeze the life out of your waist when you sit down, or jeans from the 2000s that show your butt crack when you sit down...hmmm...

Southpaw said...

I missed out on that gene too.

Anita said...

SOUTHPAW - Nice to know I'm not alone...or weird. Or are we? :)