A shopping (identity) crisis


Bliss Thru Shopping

Bag Lady

A shopping (identity) crisis

For three solid weeks, run over with the excess of the holidays and unwitting victim of a “Save the Children” infomercial, something happened to Bag Lady that had never, ever happened before.

Bag Lady lost all desire to shop.

For anything.

The very idea of carts and bags and disrobing in florescent light baths left me limp. There wasn’t a 90-percent-off black beaded purse you could dangle in front of me to raise a bit of excitement.

It hit like the sickly thud of a strappy sandal tossed under a truck: I couldn’t bring myself to shop because I didn’t need anything.

My closet? Stuffed with the essentials for the season and then some. Shoes? Jarringly, I had enough. Maybe, um, more than enough.

Dammit, this revelation was ugly, and uglier by the minute. I didn’t know this person. Some conscientious, uninspired spend-thrift. A total stranger.

(True story: This three-week stretch coincided with a three-week unintended absence in eyebrow plucking. The little hairs ran rampant, but unnoticed, by Bag Lady. No participatory capitalism, no plucking. I’m sensing some moral here, some link, but would rather not investigate.)

While I tried to adjust to this baffling new sensibility I weighed multiple dilemmas.

Would I start wearing plaid soon?

Would it feel OK, or – shudder – better, to stop coloring my hair?

All frightening but superficial. More pressing:

What was Good-Buy Girl going to say? You can’t shop alone. Well, of course you can, but it’s a sad thing. Even then, groceries and auto parts only.

So, gone were our jaunts down store aisles, our shared euphoria over finding something on sale that we never knew we wanted. Gone was, perhaps, our friendship once she heard the news I couldn’t write half of our columns anymore, handicapped by newfound contentment. No one wants to write about shopping week in and week out by themselves. Mark LaFlamme has an endless supply of hookers, crime and energy; he can write an achingly funny or poignant tome in minutes. Us – not so much. Bouncing ideas off one another has kept Bliss tenable, enjoyable and, hopefully, readable.

It was over. At the thought of walking into the Auburn Mall – even to check out the fantastic sale at Emily’s cards, one of my favorite local stores that’s sadly going out of business – my legs buckled.

Then, like a water with lemon delivered to someone stranded in the desert, Bag Lady got two wedding invitations in the mail last week. There would be showers. Gift tables. Registries. Reasons to dress up.

My purse started to tingle. (When you’re at one with your purse you notice these things.)

The new old reality took 24 hours to wash over me.

Sally Struthers desperately needed a makeover. I had to tame these cave troll brows.

And it was time to shop.