Thursday, September 29, 2005


Things are so bad I simply cannot deal with it anymore. Here is another essay to ease your mind:

I have resisted believing this for a long time. But, alas, it’s true. There really are women who believe that “shop ‘til you drop” is a serious credo. I know more than one of these women. They seem to truly believe that “he/she who has the most toys wins” is the most significant philosophical breakthrough of the century. The frightening thing is that there are apparently hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of women who subscribe to this philosophy. What is even more frightening is that a recent study indicates that teenagers are much more into shopping than their parents.
I recently had one such shopper as a house guest. While I did not mean to eavesdrop I could not help overhearing one of her phone conversations, a long distance call to her sister (who is supposed to be working but has an 800 number that can be easily abused) which went approximately as follows:
“Hi Sis. Did you go shopping?…Did you buy anything?…Oh, nice. Peach towels. They’ll go wonderfully with your kitchen. Did you see those cute little square candles?…Yeah, of course they’re on sale. I bought eight of them…Well, no, I don’t know what I’ll do with them but I just couldn’t resist. I can always give them to the girls. Oh, and they had the cutest little teacups. Bone china…Yes, yes, I know I don’t need any more teacups…but they were so cute I just couldn’t resist. Oh, and I got the most wonderful blouse. All pink with raspberry swirls all over. It’ll go wonderfully with my new skirt and shoes…I didn’t tell you? These shoes are so cute. I’m going to wear them to June’s birthday party. I also got a new sweatshirt with sequins and a lace collar and…” Not one word was exchanged between these sisters that didn’t have something to do with shopping.
One of the remarkable features about this shopping pathology is that no one buys most of this stuff just for themselves. It’s a system. Woman A buys something and gives it to woman B, knowing full well that eventually woman B will give her something in return. None of them actually need any of this stuff, it’s enough just to be able to buy it and exchange it. In this way, over time, it is possible to accumulate literally thousands of items one does not need and, indeed, cannot possibly use. This particular woman owns probably a minimum of four hundred dinner plates. She has several sets of plates, all “cute” for everyday, “classic” for special dinner parties, and then she has plates for Christmas, Easter, New Years, Valentine’ Day and Halloween. And naturally she has the napkins, glasses, cups, and miscellaneous serving dishes to match all of these.
This is a woman who never reads a newspaper other than the ads. She looks forward to the ads and if, heaven forbid, K Mart or Target or Penny’s doesn’t have an ad that day or week she feels miserable. In fact, I have had it suggested to me that perhaps it is only in my paper these ads don’t appear and why don’t I go and surreptitiously exchange my paper for the neighbor’s (which presumably, for some unknown reason might have them).
Sick. You bet. She acquires and gloats over her possessions as a miser gloats over his gold. She gives things to her friends, knowing they will reciprocate. Eventually they all end up with the same hundreds of dishes and towels and cute little figurines and wine glasses and Christmas decorations and kitchen gadgets and shoes and blouses and candlesticks and aprons and hotpads and thimbles and spoons and pitchers and earrings and whatever other little goo-gaas all the others have, but still striving for that little edge that keeps her in first place. But not so far in front as to truly antagonize her friends.
I like this woman. But I feel sorry for her at the same time. I believe her life is impoverished. She has nothing to do but shop and watch movies. She has bought into the American dream. And what a dream it is. Just get, get, get. Accumulate, accumulate accumulate. Never stop until you drop. Never mind the starving masses, the homeless, the poor and the miserable, famine and starvation. “Hey, it’s not my problem. And those people wouldn’t appreciate these things anyway.” She’s not a hypocrite. She truly believes this, just as she believes she’s an astute shopper who knows a bargain when she sees one. She will get up at five o’clock in the morning to be at a sale when she can save a dollar apiece on items she doesn’t need in the first place. The kind of woman who will tell her husband, “I saved you a thousand dollars today. This mink coat was on sale for only three thousand dollars, marked down from four thousand. “Well, yes, I know I can’t wear it here in Los Angeles. But if we go to New York again…”
Another woman friend, cut from the same pattern, a recent widow whose husband left her comfortably “well-off” moved to another state where she knows no one. She bought a house in an upscale neighborhood. When I asked her what she did, she replied, “I get up and have breakfast, then I work out for an hour and then swim. After that I go shopping.” Life styles of the well-to-do.

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