Friday, May 9, 2008

The Book Club With the Shopping Problem

I've never been a good shopper. Oh, I've tried. As the mother of 3 daughters who all LOVE to shop, I've wanted to get into the spirit. I really have. But 5 or 10 minutes into the shopping adventure it always becomes an ordeal and I remember what I hate about the whole thing. Too many choices. Pushy salespeople. Loud, obnoxious music. Nothing that fits. Rampant commercialism. Ahhhh! Get me outta here a voice screams in my head.

In November I went to New York with The Book Club With The Shopping Problem. (TBCWTSP) I had The Most Wonderful Time but I was not converted. Fortunately there are a few other things to do in New York, people watching being my favourite.

Last week TBCWTSP were invited to spend the weekend in Birch Bay at the beautiful home of LT. When I accepted the invitation I had visions of long hours spent wandering the beach, cozy afternoons in front of the fire discussing books, evenings filled with games and laughter.

The evenings filled with games and laughter happened but Saturday dawned grey and drizzly. Beachcombing lost its appeal. The ladies of TBCWTSP split into groups, and somehow (I must have been abducted) I ended up in a car heading into Bellingham for a full day of shopping. I think it was a conspiracy. They wanted to turn me into one of them: a shopper.

Looking back on it, I realize their strategy was well thought out. Our first stop was at one of those horrific outlet stores. We walked in and all I could see were thousands of racks of clothes, all jammed together. There so many people and they were all rifling through the mishmash of merchandise. I tried to join in, but it was too much. I finally hid in a back corner (with a lot of lost husbands) until my friends had had their fill. Wanting to show that I was a good sport, I purchased 10 washcloths. I was hoping we could go home.

But oh no. We hadn't even hit Bellis Fair Mall yet. As we pulled up I noticed that the mall appeared to go on for miles and miles. I wondered how much cab fare back to Birch Bay would cost me. I figured I was in for the longest day of my life.

We started at Macy's. CN suggested that we meet in one hour. One hour?? For one store? Heavy sigh. I stepped into the store, and immediately my mood improved. The racks were spaced far apart. The store was mostly empty. There were no line-ups for the changerooms. The music was soft and sweet. The salepeople were present but not pushy. Each item of clothing came in a full range of sizes, and they were neatly organized from smallest to largest. I felt like I'd somehow ricocheted out of hell and landed in heaven!

I took stacks of clothes into the changeroom. One hour was not nearly enough! I needed a second hour! Before the afternoon was over I'd bought clothes at Macy's, kitchen dishes at Target and a lot of odds and sods in-between. And I was just getting started! This was fun! We agreed to come back to the mall and carry on the next day. I was ecstatic

After some tearful farewells in the morning, (we knew how blessed we were with such wonderful friendships and hated to go our separate ways) the 4 of us headed back to the mall, but the euphoria was gone. After 5-10 minutes I wanted to get the hell out. What had happened to me just the day before?? The only explanation I had was that the transition from the outlet store to Macy's was such a relief that I actually thought I was having a good time!!

Nonetheless, I love the ladies of TBCWTSP. All of them. Not everyone can make it on the trips but everyone is equally beloved in the group. And I'm grateful to the ladies who turned me into a shopper for one day. Man, was that fun! It may never happen again, but for 8 hours or so, I got it.

Love you all ~

postscript: the reason LT appears to be tottering on the edge and about to fall over in the picture is not because she's had too many Margarita's. The truth is, she set the camera on a timer and then had to jog across the yard on her new hip to get in the picture. Hurray for LT!!