Greetings from Florida. I’m pleased to report that once again we have arrived safely. And once again I find myself surrounded by all of the suitcases and boxes of clothing that now require unpacking and stacking back into the closets and drawers. Each year as we make this transition I vow I will do better, be smarter, bring less, buy less. But all my promises seem to go the way of New Year’s resolutions. If I needed any further proof that I’m a complete failure at minimalism, here’s an essay that I posted two years ago, on this very topic. Sadly, nothing has changed.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 representing least likely to be overheard, and 10 representing most likely, how would you rate the following query: “Hello, Irving, this is Sidney. How would you like to meet for lunch and then go shopping?”
Off the chart on the low end, I would suspect. But what if we substitute Carole and Jean for Irving and Sidney? I can hear the door slam as Carole heads for her car to rendezvous with Jean at the food court.
Women love to shop. Men? Not so much. Yes, there are a few of us who claim to hate it, and flaunt a sense of superiority at being less frivolous than the rest. But dangle the temptation of a 50% off sale at a trendy boutique, and let’s see who’s the first to hail a cab.
Last evening, while engaging in the usual pre-sleep beauty ritual, I dipped my fingers into the jar of night face moisturizer only to discover that I was about to use the last dollop. While this is not quite as tragic as being unable to zip the cocktail dress you were planning to wear to the holiday party, or as inconvenient as a colonoscopy, it was still cause for consternation.
You noticed I specified night moisturizer. Needless to say, my vanity tray also holds a day moisturizer, under-and-over eye creams, and a lip smoother. Last time I looked, I think my ears were still sufficiently hydrated.
Having a Dorian Gray moment right before one goes to bed is not helpful in ensuring a peaceful rest. The jar of nocturnal face magic would have to be replaced, the sooner the better.
On the whole, I think women are fabulous. But also a little crazy. I can say this because as part of the sisterhood, I have license to go where no man should dare to tread.
As a group, we are certainly better educated and more independent than the majority of our foremothers. But occasionally there is a circumstance that makes me question whether or not we have received our money’s worth from higher education.
Case in point. It was a cloudy, lazy Saturday afternoon, and my husband and I had spent the day at home catching up on neglected chores. In the midst of changing light bulbs and discarding leaky hoses, I suddenly remembered that we meant to choose a house gift for friends we were visiting that evening.
Come on, admit it. We are all subject to occasional morbid thoughts, especially at that point in life when the number representing our chronological age exceeds the highway speed limit. Don’t tell me that you never think about the Grim Reaper, the Dark Angel, or any of the other euphemisms you can name to avoid the “D” word.
I confess to having morbid thoughts on three different occasions during the past month.
Maybe it was prophetic, but what most recently got me thinking about time and mortality was the need for a new watch. An awkward movement of my left elbow while leaning in to apply mascara had landed my old, faithful, expensive timepiece on the unforgiving tile floor of the bathroom. Its poor little face was smashed to smithereens, and even with my untrained eye, I knew it was broken beyond repair.
I have mixed feelings about formal occasions. On one hand, it’s an opportunity to release my inner child and play dress-up. On the other hand, my outer “mature” adult cringes as it contemplates the possible necessity of Spanx or other constricting undergarments. Even the idea of panty hose makes me shudder.
So when the invitation came to attend a charity ball as the guest of the honoree, my inclination was to say no, thank you very much for asking, and send a donation. My life would be no less rich for having missed one more mass-produced meal and some boring speeches. And I could lounge comfortably at home in my finest Russell athletic wear, sans undergarments if I so chose.
But there was a personal connection to the guest of honor, so we accepted. Besides, the venue was enticing. The affair was to be held on the USS Intrepid, the former WW II air craft carrier now a sea, air and space museum, located on Manhattan’s west side. If not entertaining, the evening at least held the prospect of being educational.
It isn’t every day that one buys a new automobile. Therefore, it should be an occasion marked with at least some measure of anticipation and excitement as I drive the shiny, as yet undented chariot off the dealer’s lot. So why do I feel like I want to go directly home, cover my mirrors, and sit on a hard wooden box for a week?
Yes, I am in mourning for my old car, which didn’t die exactly, but was economically disposed of as a trade-in for a newer, more fuel-efficient, somewhat smaller version of itself. I had convinced myself that its time had come and I needed to let it go before it became unreliable. The decision was buoyed by my adult children, who are secure in the knowledge that being of a certain age themselves, they now know what’s best for me. They couldn’t quite understand how their mother cared so little for her safety that she didn’t have a back-up screen. Hey, I’ve been craning my neck for years, and only occasionally have stone walls made contact with my rear end.
Election day is almost here and thank goodness! After November 6th we can perhaps look forward to some respite before those tiresome political commercials are replaced by equally tiresome holiday commercials. Or perhaps not. In any event, I hope my readers have appreciated that my blogs have been non-political. At least until right now!
I am calling for more government regulation. Stop shouting, women of the Tea Party, and hear me out. There is an industry out there that has a long history of deceptive practices, especially where female consumers are concerned. As such, I am demanding a federal investigation into the villains who size women’s clothing, followed by the establishment of some uniform guidelines!
Twice a year I am forced to confront a terrible truth. The catalyst for the reckoning happens to be bi-latitudinal (if there is such a word!) living. I migrate, like the birds, south in the winter and north in the summer. Unlike the birds, who seem to have mastered the art of traveling light, I transport boxes and suitcases full of spring-and-summer weight clothing from one location to the other. The foreplay to the actual packing involves opening the door to the closet, staring at the contents in horror, and saying to myself, “how did I get so much stuff?”
It is at that instant when I must face up to the fact that I am a recreational shopper! (What woman does not have her own moment of reckoning?) Not quite as bad as being a shopaholic, but almost. And…it’s a slippery slope.
After all, how many adorable tops or pairs of pants or smart shoes does one person actually need? Did I say “need?” To a recreational shopper, “need” is a four-letter word. As those of us who fall into this category readily recognize, “need” has absolutely nothing to do with it.
Should entering a store to purchase an ordinary item cause an otherwise smart, level-headed woman to put her therapist on speed dial? I didn’t think so. Yet I fear I’m in persistent danger of falling into a retail-induced catatonic state, brought on by daily confrontation with really difficult choices. This just might be the worst of times.
I became acutely aware of the situation the other day when I was in Grand Central Station with some time to kill before boarding my train. Needing a new mascara, I entered a trendy cosmetics store. Wherever it was that they displayed these magic wands, I couldn’t find them. So I approached a young saleswoman whose back was to me. I could see that she was deeply preoccupied with rearranging the little eye shadow cases. I realized that this could take a while because she was only up to the naturals, and still had the earth, sea, sky, plant life, and heavy metal color palates to organize. But I had a train to catch. “Ahem,” I said, followed by “excuse me,” and then a deep cough. She finally turned and I found myself looking into a face that might have been a display for one of everything they sold in the store, perfectly applied. “Yes?” she said coolly, “Can I help you?”