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Monday, February 23, 2015

Hey, Shopping...We Used To Be Cool

"The following items were purchased between 12pm and 1pm".

Please tell me you know this reference. 24? Jack Bauer? Husky-voiced, overly-dramatic CTU agent repeatedly risking his life in order to foil terrorist plots and save American lives circa 2004? Each episode made you this anxious ball of nerves because every bit of the action - interrogations, torture, standoffs, bomb diffusing, etc. - was meant to happen within the space of one hour of Jack's day or night. Hence, 24. 24 hours in a day makes for 24 episodes in a season. You get the idea. The concept is absolute genius...for a TV show.

But I don't want to act out Jack Bauer scenarios when I'm shopping for my groceries. I don't want to amble through Target like a newly-released hostage who just got her life back. I'm tired of rushing panicked through the aisles of my local TJ Maxx, furiously scanning rack upon rack to find that one pair of leggings I need to complete tomorrow's work outfit at 9:25pm on a Tuesday night. My life is not a TV show...no matter how much I desperately want it to be. And, to be clear, if that ever should happen, the on-screen version of me will be played by either Kerry Washington, Mindy Kaling or Zooey Deschanel in that order, thanks. Sorry, I'm way off track here. What I'm getting at is...how did shopping become something to be feared, rather than loved?

I can vaguely remember, before this hellish financial reality of mortgages, property taxes, daycare payments (AKA second mortgages) and 401(K) loans, a glorious and magical pasttime known as SHOPPING. Oh yeah, baby. All caps. Walking into my favorite shops completely oblivious to and unencumbered by the trappings of time, available funds or other people's needs used to represent the purest form of enjoyment this girl can remember. The act of shopping would literally fill me up with joy, regardless of whether I actually made a purchase. And I know this will sound completely insane, but I actually used to try sh*t on before I bought it. No, YOU get out of here! 

These days, though, shopping is either the family chore that you decide to endure together - complete with its list of boring items to be chucked into a cart and crossed off (pull-ups, paper towels, bananas, zzzz...) - or it's an event that you embark upon solo that now must be accomplished at lightening speed. Because, let's face it. When you're a parent and a spouse and an employee, someone or something is always anxiously awaiting your return. The child, your other half, the meeting...it never ends and you don't get to stop. So now you're shopping under the gun, practically sweating, like an episode of Supermarket Sweep (please use the Google if you've never seen this old gem...) where instead of winning really cool game show swag and money, you just leave $50 poorer with all of those boring items on the list that you probably forgot to bring with you. Which means you'll undoubtedly need to replay the whole scene again tomorrow. You and the rest of the people in your house really did need that toothpaste. 

And those few times that you actually get a chance to run out on your lunchtime and pick up a couple of things for YOU (remember that person?), that hour goes by in what feels like ten minutes. Time is flying by so fast, it's overwhelming. You become increasingly indecisive. So instead of grabbing the black skinny belt and pair of jeans you ran out for, you somehow roll up to the checkout line with a size 2T Olaf t-shirt, box of crayons and toddler Crocs. And since time is now up, deduct $50 from your bank account and wear your same old jeans tomorrow. That belt was only going to accentuate your muffin top, anyway.

I vow, against all odds, to one day rediscover the joy of shopping. Mark my words, people. Until then, the crazed, occasionally singing to the XM radio, panic-stricken, brownish figure whizzing past you - sometimes accompanied by a small, significantly lighter-brown child singing the nursery rhymes' greatest hits - is me. I promise to utter a hurried but sincere "Sorry!" when I accidentally clip your shopping cart. 

Stay sane and buy yourself something nice! Most likely from the impulse section.


  1. My kids are now teenagers so I have 'built in' babysitters but...now I have to share my shopping budget with mu teenage daughter. I love to bond with her over shopping! Also, if I know what I want exactly I just go to Amazon Prime. Love seeing the box on my doorstep - such a time saver!

  2. I usually go to the grocery store with my 5-year-old and leave my one-year-old with hubby. We end up buying random Frozen - related stuff and when I ask her to stop by another store to buy some mommy clothes she is always tired and whining, so I completely understand you! Thanks for linking up to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I have pinned your post to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Board