I hate shopping! I would rather perform laser eye surgery on myself or extract a wisdom tooth with a pair of pliers, than go shopping. On the other hand, my wife believes that she was born at Harrods, is a graduate of the JC Penney Academy and she is destined to become a founding member of the Walmart Shoppers Hall of Fame.
My wife is a baptized, confirmed and founding member of the Shop Till You Drop Fraternity. She’ll shop in a store, in an airport, in the street, on the Internet, from a catalogue or at a garage sale. She would rather shop than eat. Her genetic makeup resembles an Irish Setter on a quail hunt. Her nose is constantly testing the wind and she can sniff a sale a mile away. Her radar continuously scans the universe for a bargain or a Red Light Special. In fact, her skills are legendary. I have seen her stand outside of a shop, peer through the window, and in ten seconds tell me that this store does not have the red short sleeve shirt that she is searching for. She hasn’t even crossed the threshold, but she knows! The next time the US government is searching for a WMD, they just need to show my wife a picture and turn her loose!
As a retired couple, our needs are really quite simple. I’m sorry, “MY needs are quite simple”. My wife’s goal in life is to purchase at least one of everything. For example, we have dozens of specialized kitchen gadgets that are designed to enhance our lives. We have slicers, dicers, graters, strainers, pitters, peelers, juicers, scoopers, pounders and openers. I hide my corkscrew in my sock drawer for fear that it will be lost forever in the bottomless clutter of our cutlery drawer. I maintain that a basic Boy Scout knife or a hammer and screwdriver will perform every kitchen function necessary.
Often my wife tells me she just has to pop into the grocery store for a quart of milk. I prefer to remain in the car and just wait. Thirty minutes later, she emerges lugging four or five plastic shopping bags straining to contain their booty. The one bottle of milk has miraculously multiplied, like the loaves and fishes, into the essential supplies for a dinner party for six. Now I always bring a book to read in the car for when she has to just ‘pop into the store’ for a loaf of bread. In fact, I just finished reading War and Peace this summer while sitting in my car waiting!
The worst consequence of going shopping is that it leads, naturally, to more shopping. You need to acquire more storage containers to safeguard essential items like the jumbo set of Winnie the Pooh toy dishes that our still unborn granddaughter may need in four or five years. (They were marked down 50%.) Our closets have space saver dividers, our cupboards have turntables and extra shelves and our former TV room has become the miscellaneous and duplicate set warehouse. Our house is a featured stop on the guided bus tour of the city for other addicted shoppers who are bargain hunting. We often get calls from eBay to see if we stock a specialty item like a 1953 Mickey Mantle baseball card or a set of commemorative Jimmy Carter election ashtrays. The sad truth is I know that we have them, somewhere!
The ultimate nirvana for members of The Fraternity is a shopping fix at one of the monster Discount Outlet Malls, scattered across America. These giant appendages to the freeway system are usually located in such desolate sites that their remote locations have even been rejected for nuclear weapons testing. Acres and acres of scrubland are surrounded by dozens of football field size outlet stores. When my wife leaps from our slowly moving car to get a ‘head start’ shopping, I remind her she only has eight hours until the batteries on the GPS, that I use to track her, will expire. I remain in the car with the complete works of Shakespeare and settle in for a day’s reading.
Even if she does not return to the car after two or three days I don’t worry. I know that I can eventually track her down by following the path of perspiration and drool that marks her route. And for emergencies, I have the entire Harry Potter collection in my trunk!