December 15, 2007

I'm not a shopper. I have friends who will make plans to go shopping as though it's a cultural outing. Like going to the theatre. I'll ask my friend, Audrey, what she is doing on Saturday and her response will be: shopping. For what? She doesn't know. It seems she just enjoys spending hours wandering aimlessly and the only goal is to spend money on something she doesn't yet know she wants or needs. And then afterwards to feel guilty and fat. Fun times.

The only thing worse then shopping is listening to somebody talk about shopping. If you are motivated to make it an event, there is no need to discuss it with others afterwards. For those of us who weren't there, hearing what went on isn't as compelling as you might think. We don't need the play by play. It's like hearing someone describe an episode of a TV show you don't care about and didn't watch. If I'm not watching the show, chances are there's a reason.

No one has ever returned from a shopping excursion having discovered something that carries such consequence, it needs to be shared. Usually the discoveries are along the lines of: "Do you know what I found out? I don't look good in pleats!"

Last week Audrey went shopping and spent twenty minutes describing a dress she had put on hold at Sefridges. She wasn't sure if she could afford it but she said she said there was something about it that she found inspiring. You'd think she'd been to the Tate.

Generally speaking, I prefer doing something more constructive with my Saturdays. Like sleeping.

It's occurred to me maybe the reason I hate shopping so much is because my life doesn't live up to my taste. I'll see something beautiful and have to talk myself out of buying it by reminding myself that I have nowhere to wear it to. For most people, retail therapy is an uplifting experience. For me, it's a time to meditate on where things went wrong.

Either that or it's punishment. I'll see something I like that is out of my price range, try it on anyway, and fall in love. Then I'll be stuck. I'll wish I never tried it on, but it will be too late. The saleslady will be saying how great we are together which will make me feel giddy and reckless. I'll go through all the rationalisations: it can't afford it, I have nowhere to wear it to, I can live without it, I can always come back - but the more I try to talk myself out of it, the more attractive it becomes. So I'll go for it anyway. Then I'll regret it and end up wishing I'd listened to my instincts in the first place and been stronger. It will sit in my closet: gathering resentment and dust.

If I'm going to go through that kind of pain and heartache, I prefer to save it for the men in my life. I don't need extra anguish from a dress.

Shoes are another story. I'm much more audacious when it comes to shoes. Whereas buying a dress is a commitment, there's much less pressure with shoes. It's like having a fling. No matter how torturous, it's worth the experience.

Also if they're expensive, there's less guilt because feet don't gain weight. So there's the innate understanding that years from now, the shoes will still fit in case something comes up.

A few days ago, a pipe burst in my kitchen and the plumber had to drill a hole in my closet. Which forced me to clean it out.

There was a bunch of shoeboxes piled in the back that I had completely forgotten about. I opened one up from Robert Clergerie, who makes exquisite French shoes, and inside were a pair of black suede mules. I turned them over and looked at the soles; they'd been worn once. I bought them - for a friend's wedding - ten years earlier.

After the wedding I'd put them away thinking: one day I'm sure I'll have an occasion to wear these shoes again. I'm sure in the future I'll be in a place in my life where these shoes will come in handy.

Guess not. Sitting there on my floor, I could feel myself getting older. Ten years had passed. Would I ever have a reason to where these shoes? I put them on. And gathered up all of the clothes that I never wear. Then I went downstairs to the basement, and did the laundry.