Friday, July 4, 2008

Shopping Impaired

I am shopping impaired. I blame it on my mom, who never mentored me in the shopping tradition. We never went out clothes shopping, because she made all of our clothes. We’d go to the fabric store, and sit and flip through the pattern books. If I found something I wanted, then we’d look for a compatible fabric and notions.

There was no need to go beyond the two or three fabric stores available to us. The pattern books were pretty much the same everywhere. There was no ritual “trying on” of clothes, no vetting of what I chose by a committee of peers, no need for anyone to go fetch another size while I lurked half-naked in a dressing room. If I needed/desired a change in a collar or a hemline or short sleeves instead of long, that would happen on the cutting table or at the sewing machine.

The big downside was that it was sometimes hard to predict how a style would work in a particular fabric. Or whether it would flatter my vertically-challenged frame.

The notion of recreational shopping is foreign to me. It’s not that I don’t like bling, or cool clothes, or sexy shoes—I do!! I want to HAVE them, not SHOP for them. It’s all about outcome, not process. I like to do my research ahead of time. I want to know exactly what I’m looking for when I leave the house, and exactly where I’m going to go to get it. So traveling in a shopping pack is counterproductive. It just takes longer.

This week I went shopping for a bathing suit, since we’re planning to spend two weeks at the beach this summer. I went into the department store, grimly determined to come away with a bathing suit that wouldn’t require me to huddle in a cabana with a towel drawn up to my chin. I went alone, knowing I would have to try on approximately 125 bathing suits to achieve this.

This is fun?

There is one exception to this anti-shopping bias--bookstores. I love to browse in bookstores. I love the smell of books, the way the spine crackles when they’ve never been opened before, the texture of rough-cut pages, the weight of a volume in my hands, the aggressive artwork in picture books. I like being in a community of other bookstore browsers.

Shopping in a bookstore is the perfect marriage of process AND outcome—bliss.

1 comment:

Kimberly J. Smith said...

You so summed up the bookstore experience. The smell -- more oftentimes now mingled with the aroma of coffee -- is intoxicating for me! I could spend HOURS with my head tilted just so, reading spine after spine. (I may be lucky that I don't have this luxury often, my neck couldn't take it!!)
So looking forward to The Dragon Heir!!!
Kimberly J. Smith