Today is Bob's birthday. That means that I went out on Saturday to buy him a few gifts to supplement the tickets to see Wilco and Neil Young I bought him ages ago (because, you know, even if you spent a fortune on tickets to a rock concert, you still want to give your loved one more than one gift to open on his birthday). By now, everyone knows I love my husband truly, madly, deeply, but why the hell couldn't he have had the decency to be born in July, say, or September, or even February (then again, maybe not in February, as then my birthday might be overshadowed. It's bad enough that we have to share an anniversary. I'm not sharing my birthday)?
No, he has to be born right around "opening day" of the Christmas season. You know, I really don't want to spend two hours listening to piped-in Christmas music jingling its bells all over the place when we haven't even had Thanksgiving yet, and if I didn't have to shop for his birthday, I wouldn't be subject to such things. I repeat: I do not want to hear Christmas music yet. Not even John Lennon and Yoko Ono telling me the war is over. Or Band Aid conjuring up images of Sting and Bob Geldof looking oh-so-cute-and-1980s in the original video (back in 1984, when you had to sit through hours of Madonna or Michael Jackson moon walking or big-haired-even-for-1984 Huey Lewis and the News, along with other less-than-stellar videos on MTV, to get a glimpse of it. Of course, today, a Martian wouldn't believe you if you told him MTV used to be this station whose letters stood for "Music Television" and that basically played videos 24 hours a day. Sorry, I am definitely digressing here with a subject that ought to be its own post. Forgive me. It's late, and I'm suffering from NaBloPoMo overload, in which I desperately grasp at anything that might be turned into some sort of blog post). Anyway, not "War is Over," not "Do They Know It's Christmas," and, most certainly, not "Frosty the Snowman," which I will be forced to listen to, probably about 500 times between now and Dec. 25th.
But I'm blaming my Saturday misery on the way-too-early Christmas season when it really wasn't all the decorations and music that were doing me in. Yet again, I have to admit that it really was just the shopping, made that much more unbearable by the Christmas season. The damnable shopping. And, so, I have questions (five, as that seems to be my magic number these days) for those of you who like to shop. Here's the sixth: would you please be so kind as to enlighten me?
1. When you pull into the parking lot of yet another godawful strip mall, which is where Border's happens to be in your hometown (and isn't that where it is in everyone's home town?), fully prepared to park as far from the store as possible, because you like to walk and know that seeking out such parking spaces is one of those "squeezing in exercise" techniques you learned from Weight Watchers, only to discover that every shopper today must be a WW member and that every other shopper must be a lazy slob who doesn't want to walk more than two feet to get inside, because you've driven up and down seven aisles and can't find a single space, what inspires you to keep from saying, "Fuck it. Nothing's worth this," and pulling out of the parking lot fast enough to earn a speeding ticket if any cop happens to be nearby?
2. How on earth do you handle over-exuberant, over-friendly sales clerks? No, I do not need help. Even if I needed it, I probably wouldn't ask, because, well, I'm just not the sort to ask for help. And because I'm not that sort, I'm even less likely to buy if someone gets in my face asking me if I need help. Oh, and you see, I happen to have my 13+ years of schooling under my belt, plus lots of real-life experience. I do not, nor will I ever, need help "finding the size I need" in a pile of khakis very neatly stacked by size. And just one more thing. You know, if I'd wanted fleece, I'd have been looking for it before I got up to the checkout counter and would have discovered on my own that all the fleece is on sale today. I do not want to get out of line to go look for it now, just because it happens to be on sale.
3. When you are shopping at an outlet, do you really believe that anyone on earth would pay $65 for the pair of khakis you are about to buy for $22.50? I mean, you are either someone like Bill Gates or Donald Trump or Sarah Palin, when she's suddenly discovered she's "on the campaign trail," who has all your clothes tailor-made, who would never shop at an outlet mall, and who doesn't really pay attention to price, or you are someone who expects a pair of knock-around khakis to cost around $45.00. $22.50 is a real bargain. There is no need to pretend they were ever $65, and I'm insulted that you think I'd believe such a thing.
4. Are you fooled by 29.99? 39.99? I'm telling you, I'm not the least bit math phobic at this point in my life, but I still find 0's far friendlier than 9's when it comes to trying to add stuff up in my head. I'd rather add $30 and $40, than 9-anything. And I want to meet the fool who did the study everyone claims exists proving that people "really do think $29.99 is a much better price than $30.00." I'm sure there are all kinds of holes in his or her research methodology, because I have yet to meet a soul who doesn't mock this notion.
5. Has anyone yet invented a shopping robot? Can I get one without having to leave the comfort of my own home?