Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Retail therapy

I stopped off at the drugstore to by the special Neosporin+Pain Relief in the hopes that my finger (which is weirdly infected and painful) would revert to its normal size and sensitivity. And I needed Q-tips.

I’m a terrible errand runner. I get into a store, even a drugstore, and I wander aimlessly. I’m the reason they developed those nifty displays of new nail polish colors (I bought a small bottle of a bright turquoise that matches this skirt I just bought - not at the drugstore. It’ll look great on my toenails when they’re sticking out of my sandals, and it was on sale!) and endcaps with special discounts on bottled water (6 bottles for $1 - that’s a good deal, and I’m supposed to be drinking more water). And hey, maybe my new haircut would look better with some little clips or something. And I’ve been meaning to buy another generic birthday card for when we remember we need to send one right away. And so on.

It’s not that these were extravagant or unnecessary purchases. It’s just that I seem to lack the ability to run in and grab the two things I need. This drives J bonkers. It’s hard when we try to shop together - I’ll be wandering the aisles and he’ll be ready to check out. I do it at grocery stores, too.

I think this stems in part from the legitimacy of the purchasing. In college, when I was mostly on my own financially, I had a credit card that was billed to my mom. This was not a clothing and eating out card, but a basic provisions card - medications, groceries (to supplement the dining hall), and emergencies. So, mom’s credit card would buy me cough drops and kleenex, and a magazine and nail polish to cheer me up while I was sick. Nothing excessive, but I got to spend money without feeling guilty about it. [I could muse about whether having tight finances makes me spend money differently than someone who grew up not feeling cautious or guilty about any of their spending, but I won’t. At least not more than I just did.]

This “legitimate” purchasing style continued with my own money. I could go on a moderate shopping spree for the foods I needed for a special diet (my current one included) and not feel guilty or excessive. When I go clothes shopping, or shoe shopping, I often feel guilty. It’s not going to fit soon (either because I’m going to lose weight, or because I’m going to get pregnant) or it’s going to be out of season or out of style. (I’m more likely to buy a purse - since I won’t grow out of it.) In fact, most of my clothing (or purse) shopping sprees (such as they are) happen at a place like Target - where I can pick up a new shirt, and a birthday card, and some kitchen towels, and the post-it notes I need for the next round of grading. This is the shopping I like best.

But don’t expect me to just pop in for a toothbrush. I’m afraid that’s impossible.

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