You hate shopping and don't want to be here. It's the world's oldest fish-out-of-water story, right after the one that actually starred the fish. And you have my sympathy. Yet, as much as it pains me to say it, the shopping world isn't quite ready for you, either.
So here are some shopping tips for you good folks who'd ordinarily choose fingernail-extrusion over trying to find that French nail kit your niece asked for.
I think if we all work together, we can get through this burst of mandatory commercialized gaiety for another season. Without anyone getting hurt.
- The cart need not necessarily be an extension of your body. Because individual inventory items do not yet come with GPS, you're not sure where you're going. Understood! Just remember, when you turn your head to locate a particular department, you don't actually need to move your entire cart with you, full-body. You can 1.) let go of it and 2.) just turn your head to see. I have witnessed more people do sweeping spins in the center of narrow aisles than Dorothy Hamil going for Olympic Gold. Only this involves more bruised shins and flattened toes.
- If something is "Cute for $5," this isn't really the positive endorsement you think it is. I know; you want to check those family members off your gift list and go back to non-shopping normalcy in the fastest way possible. So you stumble upon a whole wall of beautifully-discounted, faux-painted, artificial slate, virtually hand-crafted, seasonally-inspirational signs bearing a genuine simulated folk art goose wearing a Santa hat. You need to gift 15 nephews, nieces, neighbors and grandchildren. If you bought every single person on your list one of these miniature works of fine art you could be done with this foolishness instantly. You can now see the bright shining portal of the exit, where before you were only envisioning a slow fluorescent retail-induced death. But I beg you, put Santa Goose down. You have succumbed to delirium. It is not "cute for $5." It is barely cute for the fifty-cents it took that eight-year-old in China to make it. Your grandson does not want one. Go home and bake everyone cookies which are goose-free. Tell them about Santa Goose. They'll understand.
- Keep in mind, you are just entering a store, not approaching the Great and Terrible Oz. Yes, when you don't shop often, going into these crowded, jumbled stores can be intimidating. But remember, step through the automatic doors and don't stop dead, frozen in dread and awe-- keep moving. There are people behind you. People who are now being punched in the face as you swing off your coat in the entryway because you're now in a Panic Sweat. Giving a stranger a black-eye before you even set foot in the shop is not, perhaps, the right tone for the day.
- Resist the temptations of Begos, Darbies and Patchbox. If you find yourself saying the words "it looks almost the same" when you're trying to buy something on a family member's Christmas list, just forgo it. Do not try the Fiscally-Sound Switcheroo. Yes, I know there seems to be no discernable difference between Darby and that pink-boxed, 12- inch plastic hoochie your kid asked for. And yes, the Patchbox cars do have four wheels and almost probably maybe aren't coated in lead paint. But kids have super-sense about these things. They have criteria for why Barbie kicks Darby's skinny polymer butt beyond what mere mortals can see. You think you're a genius now, but wait until you have to explain why Darby seems to be experiencing female pattern baldness on Christmas morn.
- Decision-making stops before the cash register. Have you made the right choice? Have you thought your purchases through? It's always a risk. But here's a helpful hint-- the time to truly debate about this is not at the cash register at the front of a line which snakes all the way back to the Orange-Gloed restrooms. Think of the cash register as the Moment of Truth. Step forward bravely. The cashier does not know your daughter-in-law's taste. If you are taking 20 items up to the register and only buying three, there is a problem.
Well, my dear Shopping-Phobic Friends, here's hoping these tips are enough to guide you, reduce your stress, and eliminate the potential of you being hamstringed by angry fellow shoppers in housewares. Remember, the best gift you can give is of yourself, and yourself probably doesn't involve 50 overstocked copies of the Taco Bell dog's autobiography.