There was a time many years ago when I was willing to go shopping. ‘Willing’ meant I’d go if nothing could stop it from happening, and the willingness came dressed in whines, “Okay, okay, I’ll go, maybe, sure, I guess so, as long as we stop for coffee and goodies every 1/2 hour or so. Also, I’m tired now.”

Somewhere along the way something changed, and I morphed from that willing happy-go-lucky shopper to a shopping-phobic desperado. Thankfully, Jim is not much better, and accordingly we have become something of a standing joke. This is how a shopping spree for us goes:
We get up, fired with energy and determination. We eat very little because we will grab a bite in town. We hop in the car and start driving. Our mission? To buy any one of the much-needed and long-overdue items such as clothes, aging computers, or whatever is currently at the top of the list. 
We start out feeling pretty positive, one would almost say ‘gung-ho’ except for the sound of my mantra, ‘do we really need to do this, do we really need to do this, do we really need to do this, we could be bike riding, do we really need to do this’. Jim thinks my mantra sounds as though I am resisting, but really, I’m just asking a reasonable question. He uses the bait of lunch out somewhere as a lure. This fails, because eating out has also lost its shine for me.
We get approximately ten kilometers down the road, at which point the real conversation starts:
Me: "Man it's so sunny (or rainy) out, do you *really* want to go shopping?"
Jim (serious tone): "Yes, we really need to buy (whatever it is)."
Me: "But I wonder, do we need to buy it *this* weekend?"
Jim: "Well, we should."
Me: "But do you *want* to go shopping today?"
Jim: "Not really."
And home we come. 
It’s a truly awesome system, both in terms of angst-reduction and saving money. 
And yes, we are pathetic. We're shop-nots.
Some items have gone several years without being bought, and one item, a boat, is fast approaching an entire decade of not being bought.
Some of the delay periods:
  • Boat - eight years
  • Bed replacement - four years 
  • Computer replacement - four years (2007 Mac)
  • Laptop replacement - six years
  • Telephone replacement - two years 
  • Bedroom chair replacement - three years
Jim is something of a wildcard in this efficient system. He has become so desperate to spend some money, any amount will do, that if I so much as look fondly at something, he buys it for me. I’ve learned to add ‘but I DON’T WANT IT’ to any admiring statement I make about anything. 
The happiest moment for me is when we finally do buy something then return it. Return-shopping puts money *in* the bank instead of taking it out, what could possibly be more fun that that? If all my shopping could be return-shopping, I would be an avid shopper.
Why this aversion to spending money? I’m not really sure. In some ways it is because most things aren’t worth what you pay, not to mention most things aren’t really needed all that badly. 
I’d be happy to replace my computer, for example, if it wasn’t working properly, but it works like a dream. Replacing it would almost certainly jinx things, as regular readers may remember from the fiasco of the infamous avocado-green toaster: http://www.castanet.net/news/Old-as-dirt-Twice-as-gritty/57946/Curse-of-the-avocado-green-toaster
Jim’s laptop doesn’t work well at all, it sort of runs on wistful thinking, but it still fires up and staggers along in a sort of random spastic way, and that’s not too shabby a thing for an antique.
The bed? Well, we can still sleep at night, so why do we need to replace it?
The phone hasn’t worked for two years. It is a trick-phone, it will sometimes take messages but other times it will play the outgoing message then *pretend* to take the incoming message while actually deleting it entirely. People think they’ve left me a message, and are then annoyed when I don’t return the call. I am so fascinated by the weirdness of this glitch that to replace it until I figure out what it’s doing and why seems defeatist. 
But hey, enough with the procrastination. We are going to go shopping this instant, no more dilly-dallying. We’ll do it right this time. Why, we’ll buy everything on the list! We’ll go mad with it! We’ll . . . wait, do we really need to do this?

More Old as dirt. Twice as gritty. articles

About the Author

This bio was written by Jo Slade. As you can see she has written about herself in the third person. What normal person would do that? They just wouldn't. Who knows how many other persons might be involved in this thing, a second person? Another third? I worry about it. I - she - we - can't even keep it straight, this paragraph is a damn mess, there are persons all over the place. Round 'em up and shoot 'em. That's what I'd do, and by golly I think that's what Jo Slade would do as well.

Biographic nutshell: Jo has been messing around with words for a long time. Sometimes she'll just say words instead of writing them, it saves on paper.

The columns that appear here are of a highly serious and scholarly nature, therefore it is advised that you keep a dictionary and ponderous thoughts nearby.

If, after reading so many thought-provoking words, you find yourself tossing and turning at night, burning with the need to email me, just do it. I answer to [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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