NOTE: This post was inspired by an article in the February issue of Ladies’ Home Journal by Catherine Newman. The article is very interesting and worth reading.
Even as a small child, I enjoyed shopping. Having something new was awesome. After my father died, shopping was a luxury. We only bought what we needed which made the smallest purchases special.
One of my fondest memories of my Aunt Hilda was when she took me shopping for a “pretty” dress for my birthday. I was pulled out of school for the day (that was huge! I wasn’t allowed to stay home unless I was on death’s door and the grim reaper could be seen strolling down the street). We went into the city. Ok, it was really a town but humor me, it’s my childhood memory!
I dragged that poor woman and my mother through EVERY store that carried my size. It took all day and came with a fabulous lunch. In that experience, I learned how to milk the event for the ultimate feel-good feeling.
I tried on dresses with crinolines underneath and some that were sleek (at least to a 13-year-old). Some were shiny red and some were pink (my all time favorite color before I discovered purple). As I tried each on one, I lived a fantasy. I could date a senior in this dress (I wasn’t even allowed to date anyone let alone a high school senior four years older than me). Or perhaps, I would be a corporate executive in this one with a cute little jacket (assuming the dress would fit me in twenty years).
Ultimately, we bought a dress. The funny thing is that I don’t remember the dress. I just remember the experience. Subsequent birthday gifts from my aunt were a lot more simple.
For me, it’s about the fantasy, living the lifestyle. I don’t need to actually buy the article to enjoy the fantasy. Maybe that’s what makes it pleasurable without the pain of the monthly credit card bill. I have gone to Macy’s to try on wild evening clothes after a particularly contentious day at work. It soothes the soul. I haven’t a place to wear it so I don’t buy it, but I am happy. My fantasy was satisfied.
During the early days of my last job, I had one particularly tough Friday morning. All of Human Resources did. My co-worker and I terminated a couple of employees for cause. By lunch time we were drained and exhausted. I came back from lunch with a pair of shoes and she came back with a new white blouse (I swear she collected white blouses). We were both refreshed. We concluded it was cheaper than therapy and you had something to show afterward.
I still enjoy shopping but it’s not as much fun as it used to be. It’s difficult to create the fantasy when the 5 inch stilettos are killing your feet; the skinny jeans caress your love handles; and the gorgeous tops leave you freezing. Perhaps I’ll have to try those evening dresses one of these days. I wonder how they look with orthopedic shoes.
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