There are people who, when they saw the headline for this post, assumed it was about using your browser, on your computer. And then there are the people who, when they read the word “browse”, immediately became aroused, because they started thinking about sample sales.
Many people hate to shop. They find the whole idea boring, time-wasting and even, in a world where so many people must do without even the most basic necessities, immoral. These people often devote themselves to helping others, and they lead rich, rewarding lives.
People who hate to shop have only one problem. They have no souls.
My novel, I’ll Take It, was a tribute to my mother and her two sisters, who were all smart, cultured women, who always worked, because they had to and because they wanted to. They also possessed a trove of ancient and sacred knowledge, regarding discount outlets, January white sales, gifts-with-purchase and haggling. They passed much of this wisdom down to me.
Here are some updates:
In my book, I discussed the principle of visitation. If there’s something you hunger for, say, a coat or a pair of shoes, but there’s no way you can afford the item, you must visit it, repeatedly. You must make it feel loved and protected.You must also mark your territory, as if you’re peeing on the floor of Barneys, in a circle surrounding that cashmere sweater.
Eventually, if your desire is pure, the item will be marked down, sometimes more than once. I recently overheard a salesperson at Bergdorf’s tell a customer, “We’ve only just started the third cycle.” Deciding when to pounce on something or, in real estate parlance, when to “pull the trigger”, is the finest art. If you leap too early, there’s always the chance that the love object would have been further reduced. If you wait too long, another suitor will usurp you. There can be moments of panic, when you think that your prey has been sold, and then you spot it, on an entirely new rack, on a completely different floor.
If the item is indeed gone, this is your zen, which also applies to apartments, graduate degrees and fiancees: if you missed out on this one, it’s because God has something even better in mind, waiting for you down the road.
The principle of visitation applies equally to online purchases. The internet is designed for product visitation. One click and there it is: if you listen, by the fourteenth time you view something, you can hear it purr. You can even get to first base, by depositing the item in your online shopping bag or cart, but not yet proceeding to the orgasm of purchase. PayPal is, of course, the modern pimp.
Also: there can be a great spiritual satisfaction in endlessly circling a product, getting ever-closer to consummation, and then deciding, no. I don’t really need it. I already own something just like it. I don’t want it to arrive via Fedex, and then try it on, only to realize that it’s too tight or too short, and then have to cope with shipping it back for a refund.
Deciding not to buy something can make you feel not just saintly, but as if you’ve actually dug a well in a Saharan village.
An ultimate satisfaction? There was a jacket I yearned for, but even after it eventually went on sale, it was still too exorbitant. TWO YEARS LATER, I discovered the jacket at Century 21, for a fraction of the original price. AND I STILL DIDN’T BUY IT.
Bow down before me.