Saturday, February 14, 2009

Shopping Stress

Shopping is one of those thing I do everything to avoid. I find excuses not to go and get things we need, try to figure out ways to make whatever it is we need so I don't have to go shop for it, put off grocery shopping til the last minute. It's right up there, just below "making phone calls," on my list of Most Dreaded Chores. I would almost rather have a root canal job than go shopping. Almost.

I know. It's weird. Especially for a chick. Other women invite me to go shopping with them and I tag along sometimes, mostly not to look like such a weirdo. But when I need to shop, I have to go alone because I am already so cranky at having to shop in the first place.

"Yeah, you know how bad I am at shopping when there's something I 'have to' buy," I joked with my mom just before leaving LA for Honolulu. I was referring to our "having to" find a replacement property for the one that Big Dog sold recently in California. My mom understood perfectly. She had to put up with my panic/anger many times as a teenager. I'd need to get a jacket, or a book bag, or a present for a friend, or whatever. I'd invariably put it off until the very last minute, then go out huffing and puffing with great resentment and anger at having to go shopping, then I'd go crazy during the shopping process, buy something just to be done with the whole ordeal and then be pissed off at myself (and the entire experience) because it wasn't perfect. And then, I'd take it out on the nearest person (usually my mother, but sometimes my brother.)

Now, I realize that part of my shopping stress comes from wanting, needing, demanding perfection. I want perfection but I don't have the patience to obtain it. Big Dog seems to have that kind of patience, so he will go to a dozen different stores to compare, read up on everything there is to read, then go online to find the best price. All of that stresses me out as much as coming home with something less than perfect, so I tend to go and get the first thing that I find and be done with it.

I'd been needing a new swimsuit or two since my decent ones got stolen (with everything else) in Costa Rica a little over a year ago. Without investing too much time, I'd casually looked around Mexico and California, but I was shocked to see how pricey everything was. (It's been a long time. I am still wearing the little bikini I bought in Hawaii nearly THIRTY YEARS AGO.) And wintertime is not the time to be looking for swimwear in California anyway, so I was determined to find something here, but there are too many choices and the whole process of selecting, trying on, etc. is sooo tiring.

Now, on top of my shopping stress, I have the swimwear stress. Shopping for swimwear can't be fun for anyone who doesn't have a centerfold's body. I have spent a lot of time in bathing suits -- A LOT -- so it's not as traumatic as someone who's buying her first swimsuit in 2 decades, but..... I must admit being painfully self-conscious prowling around these stores with customers and clerks half my age or younger. I approach it like boot camp training for self-esteem. "No, I am NOT ridiculous in that skimpy Brazilian bottom. It does NOT matter that the pretty young things behind the counter are (probably) rolling their eyes at me. Yes, women over 40 CAN wear bikinis." Ad nauseam.

Sheesh. I didn't think I was the kind of woman who had to have a pep rally just to TRY ON something! But there I was, in various dressing stalls, with my handful of bikinis that might work, needing to check myself out but, at the same time, not wanting to see even a glimpse of myself. Was it awkward for the salesgirls, too? Did it take great will power to act "normal" with me? Were they also going through similar extremes -- wanting to catch a peek (we all love train wrecks, right?) and desperately hoping they wouldn't?

Stress leads to bad choices. In the end, I spent way too much on swimwear. But on the up-side, I won't be going through this again anytime soon. In fact, I may never. One day I might actually reminisce about "the very last time I ever shopped for swimwear."

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