November 19, 2001
Shopping Buds


Saturday afternoon.

I am standing in the middle of one of those fancy-pants bath and body lotion shops I've always hated ... the kind of shop where every product promises to "Calm!" or "Inspire!" or "Invigorate!" you with a single squirt or splash or $25-per-ounce spritz from a spray bottle. I'm trying to decide between the Ultra Snooty Facial Mask and the Ultra Snooty Facial Scrub. They both smell the same: minty and pinelike. They're both the same icky Shrek-green in color. They're both the same thick, sticky consistency when I poke my finger into the jar, like day-old Jell-O pudding. Both of them promise to do amazing things for my (acne-prone/middle-aged/ if-I'm-middle-aged-why-do-I-still-have-ACNE?) skin.

Both of them cost an arm and a leg and another arm.

Jaymi has disappeared into the nether regions of the shop -- presumably to continue her Christmas shopping -- so I can't ask her opinion. And David isn't going to be any help, of course. He views aromatherapy with the same derision as he does astrology or feng shui or any of the other *voodoo sciences.* ("If you light a 'Rejuvenation' candle and a 'Relaxation' candle at the same time, do they cancel each other out?" he asked ... just before we banished him from the shop.) So I'm faced with solving this dilemma alone.

As dilemmas go, though, this one is really sort of pleasant.

I'm entering into the whole "shopping-as-entertainment" way of thinking late in life ... or, at least, later than most women I know. Long-time readers of this journal will recall that I have often bemoaned my lack of the *chick chromosome* necessary to enjoy shopping ... especially any kind of shopping involving malls, dressing rooms, unctuous department store clerks and/or Muzak versions of "Just The Way You Are" piped in over the loudspeakers. And yet here I am on a sunny Saturday afternoon ... tromping around San Francisco from one department store to another, trying on clothes, picking out sweaters for my daughter, deciding between a ridiculously expensive facial mask and a ridiculously expensive facial scrub in a BATH AND BODY SHOP, forcryingoutloud ... and I'm actually enjoying it. Is it because I'm growing some chick molecules, finally? Or because I no longer burst into tears when viewing myself, unclothed or otherwise, in a fitting room mirror? Or because I have credit cards now, and I know how to use them?

Or is it simply because one of my very best Shopping Buddies is in town?

I suspect it's a little bit of everything.

Eventually I decide to splurge and buy both the Ultra Snooty Facial Mask AND the Ultra Snooty Facial Scrub. Why the heck not? In the words of the immortal Meredith Baxter Birney: I'm worth it. My agenda on this shopping trip has been very simple: buy stuff for Jaymi. She's got a birthday coming up in a couple of weeks -- her twentieth birthday, as a matter of fact -- and I want to load her up with clothes and shoes and toiletries and how-to books and little wooden woodpeckers from Chinatown. But there's no reason why I can't indulge myself a little bit too, while I'm at it ... is there?

I head for the check-out counter to pay for my stuff.

As I'm waiting, Jaymi suddenly joins me in line and peers into the contents of my shopping basket. "No way!" she gasps.

I feel a fleeting (and wholly unnecessary) need to defend my purchases -- I'm only buying a couple of things for myself! Honest! We'll go to The Gap next! -- when I see what she has in her shopping basket:

A jar of Ultra Snooty Facial Scrub AND a jar of Ultra Snooty Facial Mask.


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jaymi in chinatown

no, that's not a cigar-store indian standing behind her:
that's her stepdad.

"i don't want any 'weird' Chinese food," she told us.
[so of course we took her to lunch in CHINATOWN ... ]

midpoint during day #1 of shopping.
[trust me. we were looking decidedly less perky by the end of the day on Sunday.]



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Late Saturday afternoon.

Jaymi and I are struggling from the car to the front door of the apartment ... loaded down with Bruschetta fixings, empty Calistoga bottles, rental movies, sweaters, camera bags ... plus 43,897,621 individual shopping bags: one from every department store/shoe outlet/body lotion shop in the greater San Francisco area.

(Or at least it feels that way.)

David holds the apartment door open for us. His expression is patient, amused, tolerant ... and exhausted. Eight hours' worth of department stores, parking garages and manic downtown traffic have clearly taken their toll on his energy level, if not his good humor.

"Thank you again for driving us around, honey," I say to him for the bazillionth time this afternoon.

"It's OK," he says, matter-of-factly. "One of these days I'll take the two of you to a scrapyard and make you look at car parts for eight hours." And he smiles with sunny malevolence.

Jaymi and I exchange a knowing glance.

All in all, it's been a pretty successful shopping expedition ... especially when you consider that one of us has been a big grumpy poop about shopping for the first forty-three years of her life (and the other one of us is Jaymi). We didn't get everything on The List -- the elusive long stretchy black skirt is still somewhere out there, waiting for us to find it -- but we have all day Sunday to finish our shopping before we have to get Jaymi to the airport for her flight home.

"I think The Southland Mall has a couple of good department stores," I tell Jay ... looking at David carefully to gauge his reaction. Another day of shopping? Can we handle it?

He doesn't even blink.



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