Thursday, November 10, 2011

It is the most wonderful time of the year.

I, for the most part, love this time of year. The weeks between Halloween and the New Year are filled with family and celebrations. Thanksgiving, New Years, and of course, the biggest celebration, Christmas, give time to gather with family, friends and fiends. By the way, fiends are simply friends without our presence.

In me, these celebrations give rise to some anxiety, and that anxiety revolves primarily around one activity – shopping. I dislike shopping. It makes my knees knock when I think I might be purchasing the wrong gift, in the wrong color, or the wrong size, or that the intended recipient already has a gazillion. When the recipient opens the gift, I always hold my breath, hoping they like it. So far, everyone has been gracious when receiving a gift. No one has complained; not even the fiends.  For that, I am thankful.

Another reason I dislike shopping so much…I believe there is a conspiracy against me, and others like me, by United Group for Leveraging Items Expected Sales (UGLIES). It works this way; let us say I want to purchase a widget for my great Aunt Gertrude. Gertie loves widgets and has an extensive collection. As I move from store to store, perusing the aisles of widgets, those cameras hanging from the ceiling record my movements and identify that I am seeking to purchase a widget. Immediately a hold is placed on the price of widgets in all stores within a 20-mile radius of my location.

When I find the perfect widget at a reasonable price, I purchase it. This is where the fun begins. The price I paid for that widget is shared amongst UGLIES network, and when the cameras have followed me out of the store, into my vehicle, and driving down the road, at least one store within that 20-mile radius immediately marks down the price of the widget I just purchased. The markdown is just enough to cause me to wish I had purchased it at that lower price, but not enough to make it worthwhile for me to return the original widget, drive to the other store, and purchase the cheaper one.

My next, and greatest, reason for disliking shopping is the crowds. Thankfully, Beloved and I are usually able to do our Christmas shopping during weekdays and avoid most crowds. It never ceases to amaze me how people manage to pilot 3000 pounds of metal, propelled by small explosions occurring inside a metal case, down roads, amidst many other vehicles heading in completely different directions in a safe manner. Yet, when they arrive at the mall, they completely forget how to navigate.  “Stay to the right. When walking in a group, do not obstruct the flow of traffic. Do not stop in the middle of the walk way, and if it is an emergency and you must stop, put on your 4-way flashers.”

The larger the crowd, the more discomfort I feel. I like to get to where I need to go, buy what I need to buy and exit the store quickly and efficiently. However, I am large, and when there are many people milling about, I need to exercise caution to keep from knocking people over. Beloved, who is not only drop dead gorgeous, but petite as well, does not have this problem. She can slip through the tiniest gaps in the crowd, and take off like a whippet at the races. As a result, she is often looking back at me in exasperation, wondering why I do not move faster.

I tend to lumber around behind people, as I move from one store to another. It reminds me of those bucolic scenes from old western movies. You know, the ones, where the cowboys are slowly riding along, playing harmonicas, as they herd the droves of cattle towards Abilene, or some other stop on the railroad.

Then I remember why those cows are being moved down the dusty trail to Abilene. They have been sold—sold to be shipped down the railroad, slaughtered and turned into prime rib, steak, and hamburger, to be eaten by people back east.

Did I mention I do not like shopping?

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