Jen and the Art of Consumer-Cycle Maintenence…

This is one of the reasons why I hate shopping. I hate it. HATE it. I’m sure if I was a body double for Megan Fox I would enjoy it a lot more, but I’m not, and I don’t. It doesn’t just stop with clothes shopping either…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I went shopping a couple of weeks back to look for something decent to wear for a long overdue night out, and it was an unmitigated disaster. Not on the scale of a Chilean mine disaster, but you know what? I can identify with them. Being trapped for days and days on end in an enclosed space without any hope of ever leaving? Try on a dress that you THOUGHT was a 14 and is actually a 10, get it on over your head, stuck over one boob and one arm, and try to get it off without ripping and thus paying for it. You’ve never seen blind panic like this. Although when it’s not you, it’s some funny shit.

That is the fundamental reason why girls shop in groups of two or more. Health and Safety. We’re nothing if not practical. Also there’s an extra person to stand there and militantly hold on to your desired article of clothing while you leg it faster than Usain Bolt to the nearest cash machine and pray the last transaction didn’t go through as fast so you can rinse the life out of your credit card. You come back and just take a second to observe the protective friend clutching on to your glittery Holy Grail like a bear would her newborn cub. Scary stuff. Openly snarling at any wannabe shoppers, challenging them to even try and look at it. Scary stuff.

The days of communal changing rooms are long past me. If I want to see what I look like compared to other girls in those horrible places, I’ll go the zoo, rob a monkey and stick him right in the middle of the giraffe section and take a picture. Now I’m not fishing for compliments or acting oh-so-modest, not even a bit. It’s just that no matter how pretty we actually are, it’s unfortunately the inclination of most girls to automatically do a split-screen comparison with whoever else is in there with you. Therefore I may feel fantastic strutting round all by myself, delighting in my uniqueness in this world of Tits, Teeth n’ Tan…but stick me in a communal changing room and all I see is the illegitimate love child of Roseanne Barr and Danny DeVito staring back at me. My brain immediately starts photo-shopping little extras on to that lovely image; upper lip hair, sweat patches, missing teeth, a mullet…by the end all I was missing was a pitchfork and some straw to chew on.

I pity anyone who has the bad luck to be stuck clothes shopping with me and expects it to be a great fun-filled pastime. It’s not. It’s essentially an exercise in self-loathing….a battle between me and The Divine Proportion, which seems to have eluded me somewhat. Yes, I’m short, but not skinny. This apparent contradiction sends most mass retailers into a complete tailspin. “If you’re small, so you should obviously have the figure of a ten-year-old boy. What are you doing with an arse?? People these days are so selfish..go find some velour tracksuits and stop trying to pretty yourself up.” After four hours of looking for one pair of jeans, I begin to consider The Pyjama Brigade as a viable style option.

Don’t think for one second that single changing rooms are any better – they’re not. For some reason we all think that if we can’t be seen behind a curtain, that it is then, by conclusion, bullet-proof, sound-proof and toddler-proof. Yup, toddlers. Mommy dearest (who’s probably one of them skinny yummy mummies anyway so no bother to her there) decides she simply must try on those jeggings she found, and precious little Kyle or Apple or whoever the feck they are can go amuse themselves. Apparently out of ALL the things in a shop that can possibly amuse a child, the sight of me fighting a losing battle with a complicated neckline and wraparound dress that’s threatening to cut off my air supply wins out overall. I wouldn’t mind but the child didn’t even know CPR when the time came. That’s just bad parenting right there.

As I said before, it’s not just clothes shopping that annoy me. I think I’m very singular-minded when it comes to any kind of retail adventure. Go in with specific ideas, stick to them, find what you need, get out and go on with your life. None of this faffing around. Food shopping can nearly be worse. More so because while I have this single-mindedness, others do not. And they’re the ones with the big trolleys blocking the biscuit aisle standing in front ot the healthy organic section while tearing their eye sockets looking sideways at their real target – the full-fat sugarlicious chocolate -covered section. They lie in wait, debating on how long to give it before they stop fooling themselves, then walk over all defiant-eyed and grab a pack of heaven. Takes one to know one. I’ve often done that dance, but also, for added insanity, mumbled to myself (but loudly enough for others to hear) as I pick up a choccy delight “That’s mam covered. Now where’s the Ryvita for myself? Doo do doo…”

The worst part of shopping for food is shopping with your mum when you’re back at home as an adult and you both go together. You don’t need time machines when you’ve got Mother-Daughter food shopping. It sets both parties back about 15 years and you hear the same arguments all over again. The only difference is that when your mum says “You want it so much, YOU buy it!” you smugly chuck your Sugar Puffs jumbo box into the trolley and actually buy it yourself. Most of the time.

It’s good fun though overall, because you try and beat her in the saving money stakes. You keep your eyes peeled for all the special offers, and encourage her to re-use shopping bags. She tells you to shut up, that she was recycling when you were in school only learning to spell the bloody word, and you weren’t so green last night when she saw you throw an empty Coke can in the bin. You sulk, and throw an extra bag of fun-size Snickers into the trolley as her punishment. Good times.

The only section where I would rather eat my own face than walk through with my mother is the fresh fruit & veg section. Not able. You know what I’m talking about. Every daughter’s worst nightmare. I’m talking carrots, cucumbers, bananas…all waiting like the bad Carry On film jokes that they are. You turn scarlet, and look away as your mum picks and chooses each individual one, casting you a sideways glance each time with just the slightest hint of a smirk. I wait for the day that we both lock eyes as she selects a substantial-looking carrot or four – and all you hear loud and clear in the fresh fruit & veg section is:

“Isn’t it hilarious that so many veggies look like a penis??”

Time will stand still. Everyone in the shopping centre will freeze and look down. And as sure as I’m sitting here typing this; it’ll be an elderly woman from Moyross who will turn around with a sixty-fags -a-day cackle and scream:

“I should be so lucky love!! Hahahahaa!!!!” *cough* *wheeze* *splutter*

Shopping is more than gathering provisions to survive; it’s an indication that, quite simply, people are fucking nuts. Wouldn’t have it any other way really…

About JayRow

Singer, songwriter, student radio broadcaster, teacher, commitment-phobe, depressive, loudmouth, Facebook obsessive, blogging addict, celebrity hassler, professional stalker, pipe dreamer, ambitious young thing!
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