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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Confessions of a Shoppaphobic

"You're going to Target today, right? I wrote a list of some things I need."

"Good. Yeah, I have some things I need to get too."

I added my items to the list on the partly-crumpled page of notepad paper. Hers were Health & Beauty items and some cat litter; mine were "I don't want to go to the grocery store today so I'll stretch out our pantry for one more day with a little supplementation" items. I wanted milk, bread, and maybe something to drink.

I pocketed the list, dressed Erin, and took off with her while Emily went to work. On the way to an unfamiliar Target (I had some other errands in that area) I was distracted by racks of clothes outside a Sears to which I'd never been. I remembered that both of my pairs of jeans, more accurately both of the pairs that were comfortable and stamped with measurements that did not make me feel guilty about that resolution to cancel my gym membership, had holes in the right knee and in the crotch.

"A-ha!" says I, "I should finally explore this Sears and see if I can buy a pair of jeans for less than $40," the exorbitant price of jeans being the main reason I wore two pairs into holey oblivion.

The only shopping I really like to do involves either ill-lit bookstores in the countryside, or grocery aisles under radioactive lights. I go to the mall at Christmas because I like Christmas-y things, but I don't like the shopping aspect. I don't like the mall at all, really. I don't like shoe shopping, preferring to wear a pair down to muddy latticework before going to the store to find, hopefully, a pair that looks almost exactly like the pair I was sending to a haz-mat disposal site.

I especially don't like clothes shopping.

And thanks to Abercrombie and Fitch I really hate jeans shopping.


(Begin Long Aside About Abercrombie and Fitch)

Once, on a trip to Portland, I spilled something on the one pair of jeans I brought with me. I decided to add to my wardrobe, so I went wandering around looking for clothing stores. I walked into that sensory date-rape, Abercrombie and Fitch, drawn along by the mannequins modeling denim in the window.

"A-ha!" says I, "here is where I will find jeans. And I will, apparently, have to wear them until I am dead because holy-mother-of-god-on-a-skateboard these are expensive."

My optimism was matched in its vastness only by my waistline. I haven't been a skinny rail since high school graduation, but by the time of this Portland trip I had been steadily accumulating girth, a process accelerated drastically when I stupidly quit smoking (for, what? Health? Bah. All of those years smoking takes off your life come at the end anyway). I was hefty. Solid. I think the clinical description was "obese", although I don't think it's fair to just throw that label around if there are no cranes involved in getting oneself into and out of bed. But I wasn't thin, although I didn't view myself as particularly large.

Abercrombie held me down while Fitch punched me in the (over-hanging) gut over and over again. As I was looking for a pair of jeans that would encircle my waist in anything approaching comfort it struck me that there were no numbers in sight that I recognized.

"Who are these men with 32-inch waists?" I wondered. "Where are the real pants?"

"You. Are. Too. Fat. To. Shop. Here," the labels taunted as I grew more frantic in my search for pants.

Fuck you, Abercrombie. Fuck you, Fitch.

After Erin was born I dropped about 40 lbs. For the hell of it. I felt like riding my bike all the time and I didn't have any classes and Emily was on maternity leave, so I had all of this time to just exercise and think about food and cooking. Every few months I would go to the mall to buy a new pair of jeans. And my first stop would be Abercrombie, where I'd try on a pair, note the new reduction in my waistline, and then walk over to The Gap to buy my jeans there instead.

Fuck you, Abercrombie. Fuck you, Fitch. You weren't there when I needed you.

(End Long Aside About Abercrombie and Fitch)


I was wearing a pair of those Gap jeans as I spotted the Sears. I needed jeans badly enough that I was willing to overcome my intense dislike of clothes shopping to actually enter the Sears, browse the aisles, and try on about six pairs, all with Erin in tow in a cart.

Erin was less and less excited about her predicament as each new pair made an appearance, so eventually I rushed the decision a bit (but not before noting that no matter what the labels say, two "identical" pairs of jeans can fit remarkably differently) and brought three pairs to the counter to buy. With sale prices in effect I spent, for those three pairs, what you might spend on one pair at (fuck you)Abercrombie and (fuck you)Fitch. They fit fine. Maybe a little more loosely after wear than I'd like, but they aren't going to fall off of me.

Then I took Erin to our actual destination, Target, that magical land where $200 always seems to disappear out of my wallet, stolen by the Target elves.

Looking down at the list I read that Emily's first entry was some kind of facial cleanser, explicitly named for ease of locating. But I couldn't find the bottle she appeared to want. To use a car analogy, if she wanted a Toyota Camry XLE, then all I could find were Toyota Camry LE's, or Toyota Highlander XLE's. Not knowing which alternative she'd have preferred had she been there herself I bought both. (It is likely I would have been inclined to do the same thing with the cars.)

This took a while (since I was pretty damned thorough in this search for the mystery car, er, cleanser), and Erin, already unhappy about being in her second shopping cart in as many hours, was making her dissatisfaction known. A box of diapers on an end-cap display caught my eye and I thought "A-ha! I remember noting that we are out of diapers at home, but I didn't write it down on the list. I will purchase these diapers now and be ahead of the game!" So I added them to the cart. The same thing happened with the toothpaste I saw while walking along. Not on the list, but added to the cart.

There didn't seem to be a pet care area, nor a grocery section at this strange Target, but I was a little distracted by screeching coming from the mite in the cart. I rushed through checkout, and unloaded the cart into the trunk where the diapers I bought joined a completely full box of diapers that had been in my trunk the entire time.

After leaving Target with the exhausted, annoyed Erin I took the list out of my pocket and it occurred to me that the reason I hate shopping is that I'm just not good at it.

Do you know what it means to not be good at shopping?

It means being capable of going out in the morning, spending $150, and buying not one damned thing on a list you are carrying with you and ALSO buying things you already have.

"A-ha!" says I, "I am terrible at shopping."


Heather said...

I do the same thing. Or I'll go explicitly for one item and buy 30 other things but not the one thing I went to get.

I also like to buy a bottle of laundry detergent every time I go apparently because 5 bottles is never enough.

Janna said...

Lists are horrible for me, I either never remember to bring them, or bring them and decide I don't need to look at them, I remember what's on them. Then I find when I take it out while walking up to check out that I forgot at least 3 things on it, but I am too lazy to go back and get them.

When I worked at the mall, my store was next to Abercrombie and Fitch and the people that worked there were the most vapid idiots ever. They also had about 3 bomb threats while I worked next to them, so I don't think you are the only one to hate that store.

Adrienne said...

A and F (yes I am that lazy tonight) stores STINK. literally (and figuratively), they pump some smellovision aromatherapy crap throughout the store I can't even walk past it in the mall, I have to cross over the walkway to the other side fi I see it coming.

btw Hell hath no fury like a mite in the second cart in as many hours. I am curious as to how you redeemed yourself in her eyes, for you now must be viewed as the devil.

seadragon said...

I've been reading your blog for a little while now, and thought I would finally comment. Just wanted to say that I found this post quite amusing.

Jerri Ann said...

My husband is a much better shopper than me. I do it like you, by the seat of my pants with the list tucked away somewhere that I can't comes with his IQ and the fact that he really doesn't have to keep up with anything around here such as when bills are due, whether they are paid, when athletic practices are, when field trips are...all that, that's for me, so serves him right to be the shopper I say. I hate it.

Miss Grace said...

I can't even walk past the open A&F doors. The noise pollution combined with the smell pollution combined with the disturbingly fit employees just all comes together to creep me out in a very lasting way.

Jozet at Halushki said...

LOL! What are you talking about, man? This was wonderful.

I felt your weariness and heaviness of heart.

And this?

"sensory date-rape"

is so right-on that I high-fived my computer screen.

Headless Mom said...

Lol at the holy mother of God thing.

This was a great post Shawn!

Stephen said...

I thought you deleted this. Liar!

MadWoman said...

Meh...lists are overrated. I make them, take them and ignore them. I like to wander shop. I think it upsets hubby though when I come home with 99 things we didn't need and 1 thing we did, but I have the wrong kind.

I have lots of different kinds of peanut butter floating around my kitchen if you're ever short.

Peggy said...

I was literally amazed one time when a friend told me she went to Target for a dustpan...and that's all she bought - just the dustpan! Talk about self-control!

I have serious issues with Target...I wonder if there is a 12 step program for Targaholics?

Sara said...

Pretty sure I've done that entire shopping trip also. Thankfully graduated from diapers at our house.
Now my shopping routine is to forget the list, get distracted, fill the cart with stuff, put all the stuff back, leave with little to nothing after wasting a bunch of time, kick myself for trying to shop again when I know I suck at it. Repeat in a month or two.
Kudos to you for the extra effort on the cleanser!

Stimey said...

Yeah. I'm not allowed to buy salt, pepper, or toothbrushes anymore for this very reason.

On a related note, if you're ever out of salt, pepper, or toothbrushes, call me.

Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...

Ohhh, this post is so fantastic, I nearly snorted coffee out of my nose!

Mandy said...

There are undoubtedly remedial classes offered (possibly by shopaholics) for sohppaphobes like you.

for a different kind of girl said...

Today I stopped at Target for milk and cereal. I even had a list. I got home and all I had purchased was milk. It wasn't until I was pulling in the drive that I realized what I'd forgotten, even though the two go hand in hand.

Looks like it's toast for breakfast in the morning again. Or another trip to the mothership for cereal.

Cari said...

LOL, "target elves". Those little bastards get me everytime! Someone oughta come up with some kind of repellent we could spray ourselves with before entering that would keep the little buggers away from our wallets!

mumma boo said...

The problem is the list. It attracts the elves. They need to see what's on it, so they can effectively distract you from it. If Erin ever needs socks, let me know. Apparently I think Cheeks eats hers because I seem to end up with a new pack every time I shop at Target.

Ali said...

i'm distracted by the fact that you bought jeans at Sears.

clearly, you need my help.

Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

haha, you are too funny. The thing I always do is continually forget the same thing EVERY TIME I go shopping, as if I have some sort of mental block on it and we end up being without that particular item for weeks before I finally remember it.

I suck too :)

Anonymous said...

HATE Abercrombie and bitch. that place never fails to make me feel fat and stinky. sheesh.
okay, target is the WORST place ever when it comes to sticking to your shopping list. the clothing grabs you; the $1 section; the CDs. Sheesh. I never get out of there without spending at least $50 and I always forget something on my list!

jerseygirl89 said...

That Abercrombie and Bitch (that's what we call it at my house) aside made my day.

moosh in indy. said...

I'm available for hire. Of all the skills I have shopping ranks as one of the highest.
I also, will never even fit through Abercrombie's door frames.

Special K said...

Your comment on the wife's facial cleanser reminds me of my husband. He swears I put things on the list that don't exist just to rile him up! More than once next time we are in the store I go straight to it. He thinks Target and I have a consipiracy theory going on. I can't let him read this post or he will be convinced.

The Scholastic Decoder said...

But you got the cleanser... that was on the list, right? Forgetting cat littler, though, well, that's going to suck in a few days. You might want to go back out and get that.

Kristy - Where's My Damn Answer said...

I am SO not a shopper but once you get me in a store ... THEN I find things that I didn't even know we needed. I hate shopping.

Jenni said...

I like to joke that the doorway to A&F should be no wider than the clothes they sell, so if you're too fat for the clothes you can't even fit into the store. I'm funny like that.

The Me/ The Wife/ The Mom said...

LOL! I never considered the phenomena of not being able to leave Target for under $200.00 "magical"! I'll have to revisit the mystery. The same "Magic" follows us to Costco!

I have to tell a wife and mom...I don't care if my husband is good at long as he does it! Woo Hoo for dads who shop!

Backpacking Dad said...

Heather: I had six bottles of ranch dressing at home once.

Janna: vapid doesn't even begin to describe them. :}

AdrienneV: McDonald's.

seadragon: why thank you.

Jerri Ann: so...he has a low IQ?

Miss Grace: Plus there's always a poster of some cut dude who's all "Seriously. Why are you trying to buy clothes here?"

Jozet at Halushki: it just felt too weary for my usual. It wasn't boring me so much as depressing me to read it again. It didn't feel like I was adding anything to world besides bleh.

Headless Mom: My dead friend Warren used to say that one.

Stephen: I was mocked into putting it back up.

MadWoman: List schmist.

Peggy: that's not a friend; that's an alien.

Sara: Turns out that Target was just sold out of the right one.

Stimey: you got it.

Lisa@Crazy: you're welcome.

Mandy: my way is cheaper :}

FADKOG: did you also get random junk? I always get random junk.

Cari: word. They're sneaky bastards.

mumma boo: and I almost always seem to run out of sox for Erin.

Ali: I'm done with mall jeans. $25 or less only. :}

Petra a.k.a. the Wise (*young) Mommy: I forgot what I was going to say by the time I got to the end of your name :} Oh! Right! Mental blocks.

Danielle-Lee: you get out cheap.

jerseygirl89: two "Abercrombie and Bitch" comments in a row makes me suspect I've been missing out on this moniker.

moosh in indy: you and Ali should start a clinic.

Special K: in her defense Target was just out. We found it later. At a different Target. That same day. I went to TWO Targets in the same day!

The Scholastic Decoder: done.

Kristy--where's my Damn Answer: Always with the unnecessary items.

Jenni: yeah you are.

The Me/The Wife/The Mom: yeah. woohoo us :}

RebTurtle said...

Turn me loose in Home Depot or an electronics store and it's all over. For computer parts, tools, and home improvement supplies I am both fast and harmful to my credit card.

Groceries, household items and anything that I'm not used to shopping for..... fail.

My jeans (Wranglers), however, are always $15 at Wal Mart and always fit the same. Must be the same young Malaysian boy making my size every time! They last me at least a couple years each, and I wear them to work - in construction.