Shopping, Part II

>> Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I'm still stuck in holiday retrospective mode and I can't seem to find my way out. I don't want to put the holiday decorations away, and I think that is part of my problem. I'm thinking that if there is a snowman involved, it isn't "holiday" it's "winter" and it can stay up until Valentine's Day (except for maybe the 8ft inflatable snowman in the front lawn; that should probably go). There. That solves about 1/100th of my holiday cleaning chores.

So, while I'm procrastinating the annual undecking of the halls, I thought I would share another shopping story with you. As a descendant of the Great Man-Shopper I very clearly understand the hazards that can come from over indulgence of shopping, especially in this family. I have long since thought that we must have some sort of mutant gene that causes us to take some things to excess. Nonetheless, I was not always so wise.

Once, a long time ago, I went shopping with my Oldest Sister on Black Friday. Our story begins back in the day when "Door Busters" meant anything before 9 AM and no one (and I mean no one) had even dreamed about opening a store at midnight. People were smarter then, I think. There is no shopping deal worth staying up all night. None. You could give me the dang HD TV for free and I still won't sit outside all night long in the freezing cold for it. (This phenomenon to me is like standing in line to get the new Harry Potter book or whatever the current trend is. The book will still be there next week ... or even better, on line booksellers have invented something called the "pre-order" where you can tell them you want it and they will mail it to you for arrival on the day of release. What a great concept, right?)

Heck, this was so long ago that Bon Ton employees were still snapping polaroids of the lines in the store for the still pretty new Dirt Devils , because they thought the manager wouldn't believe them. Now, I can't go much further with this line of thought because I have already made myself feel very old. Polaroids. Dirt Devils were still new. Yeah. Old.

Anyway, I digress. Oldest Sister had a reputation for tremendous shopping stamina, but in my naivete I thought I could handle the situation. After all, how hard could one day of shopping be, right? We didn't need anything in particular; we were just out looking for Christmas presents. I was younger by a lot, and I loved shopping ... so where was the harm? Obviously my youth could withstand any endurance she might have. Right?

As you well know, these were famous last thoughts. For starters, "just out looking for Christmas presents" meant (to me) that we were roaming from store to store waiting for inspiration and enjoying the shopping experience. Apparently, to some people, like Oldest Sister, "out looking for Christmas presents" is a mission. What we seek we must find. She wanted lists, and itineraries, and goals. I wanted to wander.

Nonetheless, despite our different approaches to shopping, the morning was tolerable. We accomplished a lot, but we still managed to do some meandering. No blood was shed, we all had fun, even though there was a bit more planning involved than a "day out shopping" usually entailed for me.

Then I made a serious mistake. Oldest Sister is subject to sugar fatigue -- no lunch, no pep, no pep, no shop. She tuckered out, and I fed her. Then I made it ... the big mistake. I gave her a cup of coffee.

My sister on caffeine is a scary thing.

Now, all forms of "browsing" were in the past. That was the morning, and this was the afternoon with Oldest Sister strung out on caffeine. Over lunch, as the coffee seeped into her weary tissues, she had managed to sketch out a layout of the mall, with all stores labeled, and had prepared a grid of all the people on our shopping list with annotations and cross references. For as long as the caffeine was in her system, she intended to keep on shopping until that entire list was crossed off and labeled, "Finished".

My sister's naturally bubbly personality was subsumed by the persona of a drill sergeant, and she marched us back and forth across the mall until my feet fell off.

I don't remember a single thing we bought that day, but I remember how much my feet hurt. I remember one of our last stops was Sears, where I already was carrying 5 shopping bags and had no room for anything more, but I bought it anyway. I was struggling to find a place to put these new parcels, and I must have dropped them at least twice before finding a way that worked. Then, Oldest Sister said the immortal words, "On to the next store." The sun had long since set, and dinner had passed us by, but still she was running down the corridor like the Energizer Bunny ... who hadn't yet been created, by the way.

As we walked past the checkout clerk on our way back into the mall I wailed, "Shop 'till you drop was not supposed to be taken literally!" The sounds of the clerk's laughter followed me into the hallway.

I don't know what time we made it home that night, but it was late. Mom had met us at the mall and was having flashbacks of shopping with my Dad. She was making threats to never go out with us again, and she had only been there for a fraction of the day.

On this fateful day, I learned how powerful the genes for shopping obsessively can be.

I also learned that I should never give Oldest Sister coffee after 10 AM.

Finally, I learned that I should also never give Oldest Sister my entire shopping list if I want to make any independent decisions without her standing over me with a spreadsheet and a stopwatch.

Live and learn, and then go shopping alone.


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