Sunday, January 25, 2004

On Shopping

I have a sin to confess: I don't like shopping. No, I don't just not-like it; I HATE IT! Have hated it for years.

I wish I were a man. Men are not given the commandment to "shop until you drop", men are not held to blame when the economy collapses due to "loss in consumer confidence" (read: due to women buying less). Nonshopping men are not regarded as evolutionary failures. Rather, men have the much more pleasant duty to make up bad jokes about shopaholic women. I wish I were a man.

But the fact is that I am a woman who hates shopping. We never have any food in the house. We have a house we have long since outgrown. I wear my clothes until they fall into shreds, when my long-suffering husband goes out and buys me some new ones in varying, approximately correct sizes. And still I will not repent or reform. Not even when our president told us that the war against terrorism depended on my shopping.

Oh, but I tried! I tried. But I never got past the first step in my twelve-step program: admitting that I hate shopping. Medications failed to work; having the prescriptions filled would have meant going out to buy them. My Freudian therapist thought that I suffered from insufficient consumption envy, my cognitive one urged me to rethink shopping until I realized I had a previously unrecognized phobia concerning internet sales sites. At last I could no longer face the thought of shopping for a new therapist.

This can't go on. I am falling apart under the pressure. My husband, loving and supportive all through this unending ordeal, is developing ulcers from the unnatural, unmanly position he has been forced to take as the main consumer in the family. My friends seldom visit us anymore, and when they do I hear them whispering to each other, pointing out the absence of bunny-decorated kitchen towels, dried flower arrangements, food.

I have a recurring nightmare: There is a knock on the door, presaging the entry of the stern agents from the Consumer Interest Association. Gigabites of their computers are filled by my case: the Public Enemy Number One, a woman denying her proper womanly role, a consumer abstaining from consumption, a citizen refusing to participate in this most sacred sphere of our shared capitalistic concerns. I wake up screaming:"What are you going to do with me?"

What they might do with me doesn't bear thinking about. Oh, don't doubt for one moment that I wouldn't accept whatever fate it might be; I know that it is people like me who are slowly destroying the country our founding fathers made so great. If they ever come for me I shall go without resistance.

But in the meantime I still hate shopping.