I am a stress shopper.
I feel like I should apologize for that; like I should be embarrassed that my preferred outlet for pesky unpleasant feelings is to obsessively hunt down the perfect bargain or just spend a couple of hours walking up and down the aisles at TJ Maxx, certain that today they’ll have that perfect outfit that will make me happy.
It’s not that I’m unaware that it’s a rather predictable and boring transference, and not really the healthiest coping mechanism, it’s just that I’m as good at justifying it as I am at doing it. I’m not binge eating. I’m not drinking or doing drugs. And I’m not spending money I don’t have or buying useless things (it’s not all Hoarders-ish up in here, I swear). So in the grand scheme of things, I guess I consider it one of the lesser possible evils on my personal scale of vices. (Plus it beats just sitting around crying, which I am also embarrassingly prone to, and that NEVER results in a cute piece of clothing or something shiny for my office.)
It probably goes without saying that I’ve been shopping quite a bit, lately, but that never stopped me from saying it before, so: I’ve been shopping quite a bit.
(Here I should pause to mention that actually, no, it hasn’t made me feel any better. Go figure! A smarter person would make note of this and investigate some other coping mechanisms. But old habits die hard.)
Last week I bought a new computer, and while I got a tremendous deal on it and everything, I did not—strictly speaking—NEED it. This has prompted the start of an Equipment Cycle here at the house that makes my head swim, but I think Otto is going to figure it all out for me, because he’s nice like that. (Short version: I have a perfectly serviceable laptop, already, which I use with a monitor here at home. My new, smaller, laptop will be my travel computer, I will buy a used desktop for use here at home, Otto will sell his laptop and my monitor and use my laptop for travel and get a used desktop for home as well. I think. Maybe.) According to Otto, I have been pining over this machine for a long time (true) and we just got our tax refund (also true) and I deserve nice things (questionable). That man is a master enabler when it comes to technology products. I’m just sayin’.
You would think a purchase of that magnitude would keep me sated for a while, but you would be wrong. Because 1) it didn’t actually take me out of the house, away from my family whom I love so very much but occasionally need to escape, and 2) I can’t wear my new laptop.
So yesterday I went shopping for something pretty to wear, and came home with some clothes for Monkey. That didn’t work out quite the way I’d planned. Look, TJ Maxx is like an abusive boyfriend; no matter how many times it smacks me down I keep crawling back. Here’s a partial listing of ways in which TJ’s has messed with me recently:
1) They have the perfect dress. THE PERFECT DRESS. And it’s an amazing price. And they do not have my size.
2) I try on a pair of shoes and they’re a little more than I maybe want to spend, so I decide to wait a couple of days and come back and if they’re still there, I was meant to have them. They are never still there.
3) I always manage to pick a fitting room next to a couple of young, gorgeous, unblemished waifs who repeatedly stroll out to the 3-way mirror and declare “I think this makes me look fat.” I—stumpy, frizzy, and complexion looking its worst under fluorescent lights—remain frozen in my changing cubicle, unwilling to venture out for a look at the rest of me, and convinced everything I’ve tried on is pointless.
4) On a day when I vow that I am JUST SHOPPING FOR ME, they invariably have ridiculous kids’ clearance which I am genetically incapable of passing by. (Hey, Monkey NEEDED those $2 polarfleece pajama pants with skulls on them, man.)
The thing is, I bought the new computer on eBay, and now eBay has these eBay Bucks things where you get money back and then you can use it on a future purchase. Ordinarily my eBay purchases are things like drinking straws and shorts for the kids and such, meaning that at the end of the accumulation period eBay sends me a triumphant email that my bonus $.42 are ready for redemption. But because I bought a computer, see, I now have some eBay Bucks to spend on more than just toothpicks.
So I made the mistake of thinking that maybe I could find that Perfect Dress in my size on eBay. (I didn’t find it. I can’t find it anywhere. Although it’s a Calvin Klein dress, merchandise at TJ Maxx tends to arrive via wormhole and their stuff is not only past-season, sometimes it’s wholly fictitious and unavailable anywhere else.) (But, uh, now I wish I had a picture because I would send every one of you out to your local TJX to look for me. Ha.) When I couldn’t find the dress I wanted, I figured: BUT WAIT, I have this money (free money!), maybe I can find a DIFFERENT dress!
Here’s where eBay is even worse than TJ Maxx; not only can you not try anything on, you’re at the mercy of people’s photography skills and descriptive abilities. Guess what! A lot of people on eBay come up a bit short on one or both of these measures.
So I managed to waste an inordinate amount of searching online. I do things like click on items where the tiny picture looks promising, but then the full-size photo makes it clear that this garment is actually a crime against humanity. Or I do things like see something pretty and click through just as I see that the starting bid is already 10 times what I’m willing to spend. (I have very good taste, yo.) But I persevere! Because far be it from me to miss an opportunity to get my hopes up, spend money, and end up with something that doesn’t fit!
Come to think of it, maybe I should reconsider drinking. Seems less complicated.