It’s not fun, it’s torture
Oh, for pity’s sake. Not all women need shoes and handbags. For your information I haven’t owned a handbag in 20 years and I’m a barefoot kind of a girl.
I read an article this morning about how women are programmed to love shopping, as if it’s built into our DNA. I spent the rest of the day rolling my eyes and tutting as a result. I should know better than to let stuff like this wind me up. To be honest I’ve no gripe with sweeping generalisations usually but this one annoyed the very curl out of my hair.
Granted, there are some women I know who live for their next shopping trip but that’s not because they’re women and it’s not because they’re programmed to do so – it’s because, as individuals, they happen to love buying stuff and pretending to their husbands that they bought it at a knock-down price. Oops, now I’m generalising, aren’t I? Oh well.
The fact is, I’m not good at shopping. I hate bloody shopping. I’m a ‘take a deep breath, get in, then get out!’ type of woman, who’s only seen in clothes shops when my tops are threadbare and my shoes have lost their glue. Other than that, you won’t catch me perusing the aisles, popping whatever I fancy into a basket and flouncing my way towards the checkout with a smug look on my face. Far from it.
Dave loves going shopping with me. I’m in and out in record time, every time, and he revels in it. The only time we linger is when we can’t help but eavesdrop on other couples. Usually we’re reduced to inappropriate sniggers at the sight of a man tapping his toes irritably five feet or so from his wife’s back, as she considers whether to buy a set of orange floral napkins or pink floral napkins, even though she’s well aware that they have several sets of napkins already cluttering up a drawer and neither of these sets is going to complement the dinner service.
“We’ve not used napkins in twenty years, Norma,” he’ll sigh, looking as disinterested as a blobfish.
“Course we have!” Norma will sing. “Remember that Christmas when Flora’s false teeth got stuck in that rogue treacle tart and my green tartan napkins came to the rescue?”
While people like Norma browse, I have an idea of what I want before I even think about going into a shop. No mucking around. I’ll have a list prepared, in my hand and held forth before I’m even close to the entrance. I’m like a dart up and down those aisles, getting stuff and getting out. No pausing, no pondering, no flights of fancy that so-and-so colour lipstick might go better with my complexion. It won’t. I’ll get that lipstick home only to see it in daylight and curse the money I wasted on it. And that top? Sure, it looked great on the hanger but now? Disaster in the boob sector. Well, you didn’t expect me to hang around long enough to actually try it on in the shop, did you? I don’t do changing rooms (see below). Now I’m going have to take it back and spend more bloody time in a shop …
And why is it that when you do happen to spot that perfect texture of lipstick in that perfect shade for your complexion, they go and change their stock and you have no hope of ever finding it again? That irritates me to the point of distraction. That’s why I shop once a year for makeup; I buy three of everything so that I don’t have to go through the stress of disappointment over and over. When the year is up, I know I’ll find everything I need online anyway and, because it’s apparently sooooo last year in the fashion stakes, I’ll get it on the cheap too. Only when I’m bored with my dated makeup look will I go on the hunt for new stuff. It’s not worth it to my stress levels to go before then.
Throwing my shopping trolley around the aisles of a supermarket is much like throwing my car around London. Just get out of my way, people. It’s that simple. But no. Aisles are regions in a shop designed specifically for mental torture for ‘get in, get out’ people like me. They should have a slow lane, medium lane and fast lane. People stop dead, you see, right in front of me and it’s not good for my tolerant nature. I’ll invariably be hurtling towards the cheese section preparing to pluck a packet of Cheddar off the shelves mid-stride, when someone will stop in their tracks to nonchalantly stare at the yoghurts and I’ll slam straight into the back of them, causing them to rub a heel dramatically and throw a filthy look in the direction of my trolley. They won’t dare to make eye contact with me though – that would be like inviting the enemy to engage and they’re too cowardly for that. No, instead, they’ll scowl and limp and gasp and act like I’ve deliberately taken a knife to slice their Achilles tendon open just to ruin their day. That kind of behaviour makes me lose my shit.
Another instrument of torture is the changing-room curtain, if you can call it that. A curtain is supposed to pull all the way across to shut out prying eyes while you’re squeezing into a top that you were sure, on selecting, that you’d be able to slip into easily, only to find when you’re already undressed that it’s on the wrong sodding hanger and is, in fact, a size too small. You try it on anyway, after spending three minutes stretching the changing-room curtain and begging it to hold. Just as you’re pulling the top over your head, that hateful curtain pings open to draw specific attention to your flabby armpits (that you were planning on shaving tonight – honest) through a gap that’s now the size of your cellulite-ridden thigh. And of course it’s at exactly this moment that a small child decides to peer in and introduce you to a whole new level of humiliation, made worse by the fact that the brightest lights in history are blazing down on your pasty skin, highlighting every bump and fat globule.
And then there’s the cashier. Mostly they’re human but you know they don’t give a crap whether you’ve ‘found everything you wanted’ or not. You can tell because while they’re posing the question their lifeless eyes are inevitably drifting past you to the lingerie aisle, thinking about what they’re going to buy (at a discounted price, of course) for Friday night’s frolics. Oh, am I having a nice day? Thanks for asking. No, I’m bloody not. Just throw my stuff in that bag and let me get the hell out of here, will you? Oh, don’t bother folding it, for crying out loud! I have neither the time not the will for this; I saw your attempt at folding when the last poor sod was standing in front of you for twenty minutes – you started out well and lost interest half way through. Just give it here and I’ll do it.
Nooooo, I don’t want a loyalty card, thank you very much. I’m not loyal to this shop. I’m here only because I know you sell black clothes in big sizes that give me some sort of chance of looking half decent. I won’t be back for another year in any case, assuming these cheap clothes will begin to unravel in about a year’s time like they usually do. So, you can keep your loyalty card, thanks. There’s no loyalty left in me anyway, after dealing with your sodding dressing-room curtain.