November 19, 2001
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?)
of them cost an arm and a leg and another arm.
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.
dilemmas go, though, this one is really sort of pleasant.
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?
is it simply because one of my very best Shopping Buddies is in town?
suspect it's a little bit of everything.
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?
head for the check-out counter to pay for my stuff.
I'm waiting, Jaymi suddenly joins me in line and peers into the
contents of my shopping basket. "No way!" she gasps.
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:
jar of Ultra Snooty Facial Scrub AND a jar of Ultra
Snooty Facial Mask.
* * * * * *
jaymi in chinatown
no, that's not a cigar-store indian standing behind
that's her stepdad.
"i don't want any 'weird' Chinese food," she told
[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
* * * * * *
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.
at least it feels that way.)
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.
you again for driving us around, honey," I say to him for the
bazillionth time this afternoon.
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.
and I exchange a knowing glance.
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.
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?
doesn't even blink.