Get me a good bottle opener
Window shopping is not what we mean when we say “I’m going window shopping.” What we mean is “I’m going out to buy something. I don’t know what it is, I may or may not need it, but I’m a little bored and would rather spend this ‘spare’ or ‘extra’ time looking at stuff.” We are not, in that moment, thinking about the money we don’t actually have to spend on stuff that we may or may not need. We’re not thinking about what we SHOULD spend our money on, like bills or food. And we’re certainly not thinking about saving any money. We know, somewhere in there, that we really don’t have money to spend but are not, in that moment, listening to that. In that moment all we know is “I’m going out for a bit.” And that is good enough for us.
The ride there is peaceful. “There” is whichever place we choose. Some of us choose clothing stores. Some make up or perfume stores. Some of us go to thrift stores. It doesn’t matter, we don’t have a plan. We aren’t looking for anything in particular, so we’ve chosen a place we know we just *like.* And *I* like Marshalls.
There are a few that I’ve been to in Manhattan. But I hadn’t, until yesterday, been to the one on 125th. I had a book with me, but I didn’t end up reading it. I took my glasses off and closed my eyes and the sun beat against my face through the bus window. We stopped every few blocks and people would come and go, but it was quiet for the most part. The ride is peaceful because we aren’t thinking of anything else. We’re not thinking about any issues or problems. We’re not thinking about chores or dinner for that night. Just, enjoying the ride, to a place I enjoy to walk around and look at stuff. I’m in the best world at this moment.
I step off the bus and walk a few blocks and find the new-to-me Marshalls and open the door and take the escalator up to the first floor of shopping. It smells like a step up from a thrift store right before you smell the JC Penny. Some clothes are flung over the racks, signs are hanging from the ceiling and the beeping sound of constant price checking is somewhere to my left. And so is the skin care “stuff” and shampoo and conditioner and perfume. That’s my favorite place in a Marshalls. They sometimes have high end salon and spa products for less expensive than in the salon or spa. That’s always a fun find. Now, I’m not looking for anything in particular. That’s where “window shopping” is so much better. When we are actually looking for something, we walk into a store and go directly to the department, or we ask someone. We want it to be over quickly. Shopping because we have to, is never fun–and a complete story on it’s own. Shopping because we want to–that’s what’s exciting. Shopping with no idea what we may or may not buy, is what drives the meandering.
The meandering, and wandering about is not set to songs. It’s not like getting on a treadmill and playing remixes of Lada Gaga’s newest top 10. We are not taking this time to get our heart rate up. It’s not supposed to be fast paced. Meandering around in a store is like moseying through an airport while waiting for a connecting flight. You have time to waste, so you waste it by slowing every move you make down. So I meander to the “beauty” section where the salon size shampoos are available and on sale for $8 instead of $30 in the salon. Careful of half emptied bottles. Smell the lotions and body washes, the hand soaps (currently shaped like pumpkins for the November festivities) Try on said lotions, but first making sure I have my sanitizer with me in the event of allergic reaction. Which DID happen this round, eh. And if one finds a lotion they like we gotta look for one that hasn’t been opened or tampered with and still looks full. It’s part of the risks you take during such a crazy meander. I found an oversized bottle of shampoo I like for color treated hair for 8$ and nabbed it. I held on to it while looking at fancy boxes of soap, different eye creams and syrums and Joico hair products.
When I finished I glanced up and reviewed the layout of what I would meander by next. Bags, Candles, Junior girl clothes, Misses, Women (because Misses is different than women, which is also different from Plus…did you know that?–that’s a different story, too), and shoes.
There’s something in the DNA of women when it comes to shoes. Now, just because not every women is as addicted to heels and such as Carrie Bradshaw does not mean that the shoe department gets passed up. Granted, for the most part–the shoe section is about fun heels and deals. Boots are up and coming for the year as fall starts to leave and winter sets in. And to be honest, I didn’t see one sneaker or tennis shoe. . I mean, it’s Marshalls not a Big 5. Again, if we are looking for something specific we’ll go to a specific place and ask for help. To my disappointment the clearance wall (which during a “window shop” period is the only section I look in) is quite a mess and the size 10 section is accompanied with sizes ranging from 6 1/2 (the size I wore in kindergarten) to 12. So I do what every other girl does: I glanced over each pair slowly until I saw something I liked, then grabbed it to verify the size. I wasn’t pleased once. Bummer. Every time I felt the small build of excitement stir in my gut, I was shot down by seeing a single digit number size shoe. I’m bored. I’m moving on.
Oh look, an escalator going up.
My faith in the window-shopping-gods has been restored and I secure my purse to my shoulder and and tuck my shampoo under my arm and head confidently to the escalator, at this time we do not meander. We, women;girls; ladies etc, are on a mission. Nothing else on this floor matters. What now matters are the possibilities that lay in front of me on the next floor up.
Baby clothes, kitchen ware, bathroom, bedroom, boys, men and more on this floor. Sounds funny when I say men and more on this floor…And of course now that I’m up here, the slow meander can return. No one has bothered to ask if they can help me. No one has got in my way to make sure I’m finding everything okay. They understand me here, at Marshalls. They let me mind my own business, and they mind theirs.
Although I don’t have any children of my own, the baby and kid section is still something I like to walk through. I have nephews and pseudo nephews ranging from new born to 11 years old and a niece with bright blue eyes potty training and prepared for the cutest girly outfit her auntie finds. I walk through the small aisles full of diapers, baby wipes and baby lotions. I look at the baby toys and think of baby Bennett and little Jamey. I look at the superhero PJ’s and think of Sammybear. I think of how big the Caper and Peanut are now. And I think of how I missing out on birthday parties and soccer games and T-Ball games, but I still smile and look through my phone and see the pictures of all of them. Then I keep meandering.
Christmas stuff is already in great abundance, and I’m sure there will be more, much more. But I walk through anyway and see the oversized decorations like basketball size ornaments the color purple with a silver snowflake glittered on top. I love snowflakes, they are my favorite part of christmas time. I look at the prepackaged gifts and make my way to the picture frames. I see red tags on almost every frame and I’m filled with excitement. Because the best thing about window shopping is finding the sales. Finding the tags that say compare to $45, marked to a Marshalls tag of $12, on sale for $5 and it says something awesome like “The Gang” and I instantly think of a sunset dunes picture I could put in there. But I continue to look at all the other frames. Paying close attention to the red tags and little saying on them. The “Love” frames hit the soft spot and I think of My Darling. The ones for babies and families make me smile and I think of pictures I’d put in there, or whom I’d give them too. I move on and turn the corner to find cook books and stationary and think of all the love notes I could write and send randomly to people I care about. I think of all the food I could make from the 2$ cook book red tagged just for me, I just know it. I pick out a few books to review closer. Kid books, cook books, crafting books. There are no chapter books in view, no mysteries, no dictionaries for the oversized magnifying glass I just had in my hand. Could’ve got that for 5$ and read my Complete Works or the newest edition of Cambridge, but alas–none are available. My eyes make their way to boxes that are designed to look like books and it reminds me of a set that looked like books that Papa had (my grandpa on my mom’s side) and inside the book-box, were binoculars. I wanted them always. I never got them. Wah. I kept moving in the store.
Now, the only thing better than window shopping, is window shopping with a friend that has the same favorite place to go as you do. For a while in my life it was Wally World, and I would go with my friend DaveBrewer (I say his name as one name). Used to walk around the SLO mall with Ro before it was nothing but a Millers Outpost and Afterthoughts (which was like a Claire’s Boutique). Always liked to look at STUFF though, never clothes. That’s another story (which makes three extra ones by now, doesn’t it? Damn). But since I was alone this round, when I’d see something I would share with my counterpart had I one, I–of course like any other woman–fell into a mass text frenzie of what I was looking at to include them. I’m the girl who will walk through an aisle I would never buy anything from and manage to say–out loud– things like “that would totally go inside Charlotte and Trey’s apartment had Bunny kept decorating.” And whoever I was with would have heard me from three aisles away and come running to see, then we could laugh together. But again, I was alone this round and since my brain doesn’t stay on one path all the time, the mallard I saw reminded me of other Sex and the City quotes. And as they flooded my mind the one that stood out was when Charlotte pointed at Miranda when making sure she would show to her own baby shower, she said “Miranda!” and I laughed out loud, then thought of my friend named Miranda, which reminded me she was married to a doctor, which reminded me of all the hospital and doctor bills I still owe which depressed me–so I stepped back and walked away from the mallard. And that’s what happens when you go down the aisle you’d never buy anything from. Your mind finds a way to remind you why you’re not there. heh.
But that doesn’t mean I’m done for the day. A jolt back to reality is sometimes what we need to up the ante. When this need-to-up-the-ante feeling arises we immediately do one of two things. We head towards things too expensive for us to get, or out of character for us to get. This is when the shy un-adventuresome girl would walk to look over at sexy lingerie, or someone who rarely wears jewelry looks at big colorful bangles and necklaces. When a single girl will bolt for faux wedding sets. Or someone afraid of children will attempt to pick out matching baby furniture, just to see if they can do it. I am no different, and I landed in what looked like: the ingredients aisle. heh. Cooking stuff–definitely out of a character. I looked at the 7 different kinds of olive oil and wondered if we…and when I say we I mean my darling…need any for home cooking. I look at the shelf FULL of different seasonings and spices and wonder if I should go back and grab that two-dollar cook book a few aisles back. ha.
Eventually my confidence in my ability to meander without a shocking brain jump returns and I continue my walking about. Purse and shampoo still secure.
We like to touch things when meandering. Using as many of our senses for whatever we damn well please is invigorating during the window shopping time. We smell every lotion and candle. We look at every shoe, and you’re damn right if there are samples (like at Costco) we’ll eat something. If we need to grab a bag of some “organic” dark chocolate covered pretzel from switzerland , or doritos while on our excursion we just take it off the shelf and start eating it. And if we believe in karma n honesty (ish) we’ll even keep that bag and pay for it when we go to check out later. We’ll walk through the kids section and play the toy piano or squeeze the stuffed animal that instructs us to do so, so why would touching sheets, and blankets and pillows be any different, am I right?
I mosied through the bedroom stuff aisles. And even though I don’t need twin size or king sheets I’ll still look at them and the fun patterns. I’ll stop longer by the queen sheets and unzip the plastic bag and feel the thread count and wonder if I have the 50$ to get them, and I know that I don’t, but it’s nice to pretend that I’m thinking “if.” shrug. I touch the soft blankets and think about curling up by a fire place that I don’t have…I look at the pillows and touch them and decide if they are a good couch throw pillow or good for the bedroom. I think about Josey in Never Been Kissed and how she makes pillows..like…alot of put-this-knitted-pillow-on-my-bed pillow, and laugh–like you do. I see which pillows match some blankets and I look at rugs and I get to the bathroom stuff aisle and ponder a new hangy-thingy for all our face cleansers and razors and stuff. I look through all the bathtub curtains and their matching accessories. I look at trash bins and plastic bins. Then I’ll take a short lived trip through the mens section getting ideas for gifts, and seeing electronics aaaand I’m bored.
Maybe I’m done. I’ve been here for a while now, and we don’t ever want our places to become places we DON’T want to be, so I head towards the escalator going down and of course, take one more lap through the beauty products. It’s my favorite section, every girl can spend a long time in a favorite section–which is a reason I can’t go into Hallmark or stop at the card section in a Target…I won’t move from there. But I’ll go back by the skin care and beauty section for a last looksy before getting in line with my *find*, I mean…I don’t want to risk having lost something. Right?
I make it to the line, it’s a few people deep and like many people with time to waste, I look at the impulse purchase stuff while waiting in line. I’ll look at the deal on cotton sport socks and the mugs for christmas. I’ll see Kona Coffee from Hawaii and want to do a french press of it at home. And I’ll even stare at those “pineapple flavored” licorice bags long to wonder what they taste like, then I’ll successfully shake my head and roll my eyes at whoever thought it would be cool idea to make them. But I’ll also secretly want to get them as a gag gift. We love getting out of the ordinary stuff for other people, ESPECIALLY during window shopping, because it’s a fun conversation topic which will inevitably allow us to tell you all about our excursion window shopping, and why you should’ve been there. You always want to be there, you know it.
I make it to the register and here is the first time an employee has asked me about my experience or reasons in the store. Here is the only place an employee looks at me “did you find everything okay?” I always say “yes.” Especially during window shopping trips, it reassures me as well–and I like to be reassured. I mean, if I didn’t find something I was looking for I would’ve asked, and if I was asking for something in particular I was not window shopping–can’t get all that mixed up, it’s too much trouble. heh.
I proudly hand over the money I have for my one purchase, shampoo and say thank you and head out of the store. Here, is where we congratulate ourself in our heads and a little smirk meets our face and the only thing we can think of next is treating ourselves for finding something during window shopping. We need to be congratulated. The purchase needs to be validated. And if we’re alone we’re going to tell you about it when we get home and you will have to be excited about it. If you are not excited about our story and find, it is because you do not think it was a big deal or warranted–and you will be wrong. I mean…what if I HADN’T gone window shopping today, I WOULDN’T have found THIS!!!!! But nonetheless, a congratulatory treat is in order and mine that day was a Venti Chai no water straight egg nog, Eggnog latte. It was perfect and delicious and I am now proud enough of my time spent to go home.
Walking back to reality is always bothersome. It’s up there with finding all the food on sale but realizing you are unloading the car by yourself and putting it away by yourself, then everyone else eats the food. Returning from The Land of Time to Waste is a slow sting, but it has to be done. This is when the guilt sets in. It’s during this time we feel that we’ve wasted the day and money was not well spent. Isn’t that crazy? Just meters away from that blissful nothing-but-meandering place, we’ve now reached guilty territory. Damnit.
And from there it can go only two ways. We will either continue home and then relive the excitement when we have someone to relive it WITH and hope that THEY will validate our find and congratulate us, relieving us of our guilt. Or we’ll do what I did:
See something I should have purchased instead.
As a matter of fact I DO need a new bag that size and color! CRAP I mean I have THIS purse but I need a purse/tote that will close so the rain or snow doesn’t get it in. I DO need to have the long strap option to drape it over my body, instead of just on my shoulder. It WOULD hold everything I need to carry AND MORE! And if I hadn’t purchased this stupid shampoo, I could’ve gotten this purse. Something I actually NEED.
It’s here that we hate ourselves for window shopping. It’s here we remind ourselves why it’s never a good idea to waste time like that, or be impulsive or to only ever get things we actually need. It’s here we remember the reason we went out to begin with was to escape the things we need to do, and we feel bad for not listening to “that little voice of reason” earlier. We feel semi-defeated for spending money and we finish off our “treat” of congratulations saying under our breath why that also was not a valid purchase and we head home.
We are in the same mood arriving, as we were when we were departing earlier trying to excite ourselves. Then we reach for that glass of red wine and switch to soft pants and a housecoat and put on another episode of our current show we like–we do this to feel better about ourselves, if you can believe it.
Now just imagine what could happen if I spent your money instead of mine…because that’s what I’m thinking about when I open the next bottle. That and the fact that we need a better, more efficient bottle opener at home because I shouldn’t have to work this hard to relax. heh.