Thursday, December 21, 2006

Narcotic Shopping

I’ve never really liked shopping much. In fact, I hate almost everything about it. I hate dealing with the traffic. I hate driving around in a 10-acre mall parking lot looking for a space and getting stuck behind some doofus who stops and waits for a lady with 100 pounds of merchandise and two small children to strap into her minivan before she will vacate the spot that the doofus in front of me wants badly and is willing to stop traffic to get. I hate threading my way through hoards of lollygaggers who are strolling just a little slower than the rate an average iceberg advances. Two hours is my limit for any mall visit, and that gets pared down to one hour if it’s a Saturday afternoon and the mall is too crowded to walk normally. I can tell it’s time to go when I start visualizing myself screaming at and kicking the shins of the loitering people who are taking up space in my immediate vicinity and WILL NOT get out of my way. Generally, I shop as little as I can and still remain fed and clothed.

This has always been a baffling situation for my mother. My mother is a black-belt shopper. She has shopping strength and endurance unequaled in this hemisphere. She keeps a complete inventory of her closet in her head and always knows if she needs something or if those shoes will go with her blue dress. She can literally shop for 12 straight hours, stopping only for a coke and a pee break once in a while. I know it’s a bit of a disappointment to her that I don’t share her enthusiasm. She wistfully tells me stories of the shopping adventures she and her mother had, first hitting the downtown stores and staying until they closed, and then heading to the mall in the burbs and closing it down too. I know shopping is one of the highest and best forms of female bonding there is, but I just can’t do it. Somehow the shopping gene didn’t get passed on to me. I think she sometimes wonders if I’m really her child.

She and my step-father were here for a visit last weekend, and the two of us decided to go out to do a little shopping Saturday afternoon while the guys were off doing guy stuff. Yes, that would be the Saturday afternoon before the Christmas holiday begins. Probably the busiest shopping day in the whole year, with the exception of the Friday after Thanksgiving, a day during which I don’t leave the house for any reason. I was afraid of what might happen.

So. I took a deep breath and, as usual, vowed to try not to turn into an irritable, whiney 5-year-old at any point during the day, despite the fact that I already had a sinus headache and would be doing all the driving and the chances that I would be able keep the vow weren’t looking good. I knew I needed to take some preventative measures. First, I needed to address the thing that invariably causes the worst of the whining, sore feet. If my feet are OK, I can usually carry on. Once the feet get tired, I’m done and nothing can be done about it. With that in mind, I put on the most comfortable shoes that I own: my running shoes. I knew that this would make my running purist friends gasp in horror. How could I could I even consider shortening the life of my expensive running shoes by wearing them as street shoes?? Whatever. The shoes aren’t getting a whole lot of wear lately anyway, and desperate times call for desperate measures.

Second, the sinus headache had to be dealt with. A couple of ibuprophen? Won’t even knock a dent in it. Three ibuprophen? That would work for a little while, but I knew it wouldn’t last. Over-the-counter stuff would only push the headache back a little. I needed something that would blow it to smithereens. On a lark, I popped a Vicodin left over from my kidney stone travails last year. Yeah, I knew it was expired, but I was feeling reckless.

We loaded ourselves into the car and set out. Within half an hour, I had a light Vicodin buzz. It may be just a coincidence, but what followed was the thing I least expected, the thing that still leaves me dumbfounded. It was, without a doubt, the most pleasant afternoon of shopping in the history of my life ever. EVER.

It was a Saturday afternoon before Christmas and everything was totally fine! We circled parking lots in search of free spaces. We went in and out of stores crowded with dallying people. We stood in lines. We sampled “peppermint bark” and “warm mulled apple cider.” And I was fine! I hummed along with the incessant Christmas music. I was agreeable and charming. I cracked jokes while we waited in a checkout line about a mile long behind a woman who was certain that the $1.99 ceramic Santa Claus coffee mug she picked up had been marked 40% off and then decided she didn’t want it when she was proven mistaken. My feet didn’t hurt. My back didn’t hurt. I didn’t grumble. I had no urge to punt that obnoxious singing, dancing snowman into next week. I actually enjoyed myself. I think there may even have been a little female bonding. I still don’t believe it. And I’m totally happy that, of all people, my mother was the one there to share it with me. I wanted to go “See, see, I AM a normal human being sometimes. I really am!”

The only disturbing thing is that it took a narcotic to get me to behave like a normal human while shopping. I never understood the attraction of opiates until now. They really do make everything better, at least for a little while. I’m thinking it’s probably a good thing that I only have a couple pills left. But hey, I did have a headache.


Blogger ian said...

Yay, Vicodin! Now if I could just take that when I have to come home from work and my wife is grumpy and screaming at the kids...


6:24 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

What a great post! My husband gets mall-aise the second he hits the place...but we've never tried drugging him before (I'm also thinking Drugged Shopping should be added as a sport to the summer Olympics).

10:40 PM  
Blogger Jazz said...

I used to love shopping. Now? Pass the Vicodin.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Stucco said...

I don't go shopping all that often for the same reasons. There's even a limit to the time I'll spend in a computer store, and that's like a religious thing with me. But you should be looking at this the other way around- the difference between you and the average person is that, by comparison, the average person is sedated.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Malnurtured Snay said...

I hate shopping, and I'm with you -- everything that's wrong with the Christmas season is because of the fucking people. People make Christmas sucky.

1:56 PM  
Blogger Em said...

You have summarized shopping precisely. But now you've introduced an entirely new element - drugged shopping! Wow! I see a New Year's Resolution in the making!

Glad to have you back. I missed your writing. And thanks for your comments at my site! Merry Christmas!!

9:51 PM  
Blogger Schmoopie said...

I used to love shopping when I was a teenager. It was cool to hang-out at the mall with friends, gawking at the "cute guys." Now I detest going to the mall. I have no patience for people and I can't understand the appeal of thousands of square feet of the same crap packaged differently in every other store. Now I park outside the store I am going to and run in and out quickly. Oddly enough, our daughter LOVES the mall. I'm in for many years of mother-daughter bonding. Vicodin- here I come!

12:19 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

ian, I'm tellin' ya, it works!

jocelyn, Yes! There must be subcategories though. We can't have the people on speed competing with the people on weed. (Hee hee, I made a rhyme.) That wouldn't be fair at all. Thanks for stopping by!

jazz, It makes the shopping funner, I swear.

stucco, That explains everything! I KNEW it wasn't me with the problem.

malnurtured snay, Hey, thanks for coming by. Your picture is way too cheerful looking for you to hate Christmas. Let's turn that frown upside down! (Just go ahead and smack me.)

em, Sorry I've been scarce. Half of my parents were here for a long weekend and I never managed to get to the computer. I was exhausted from all that drugged shopping. :)

schmoopie, Shopping for cute guys is a completely different kind of shopping. That WAS fun, drugged or not.

8:11 PM  

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