I'm not your bitch, don't hang your shit on me.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Step away from the Tupperware

It’s a small object that catches the corner of her eye. It shines. It gleams. She walks towards it. She knows she has to have it. Her hand reaches out. It’s getting closer. Yes, yes, she can feel it in her hand. It feels so good. The texture is soft and smooth. It’s brand new. It’s the feeling of having something before anyone has ever had it - a joyous feeling.

Then, suddenly, reality strikes, in the form of my hand smacking hers, like one does to a child who mistakes the bottle of a household cleaner for a bottle of formula. It’s a harsh action for her to snap out of it. Put it down, and slowly move away.

To the untrained eye (and the eyes of the other shoppers), I come across as a controlling husband/boyfriend, demanding my wife/girlfriend not touch a thing unless she has permission from me. But, this isn’t the case. I’m trying to undo the spell that has come over her. She doesn’t need another Tupperware container.

“You need some self-control,” I say.

“I can’t believe you said I don’t have any self-control,” says my friend as she puts her hands on her hips and cocks her head to the side. She’s defiant in her response. “Just last week I was about to get the colour of my cell phone numbers changed.” She knows she deserves credit for resisting the temptation of not changing the colours of her cell phone numbers.

“And, why didn’t you?” I ask.

“Well… I didn’t have the sixty dollars on me,” she sheepishly replies.

Before walking away, I give her a look that says, “Oh, really?” - an attempt to change the topic of conversation.

But, really, what is it that makes her go weak in the knees at the sight of some plastic container? Or, more specifically, what makes her want to buy a dozen of these containers, in eight different colours (all matching – natch), and six different shapes and sizes (since you never know when they’ll come in handy), while credits cards start flying in every which direction, and my friend’s heart beats surreptitiously faster with each “beep” of the cash register?

Can the experience of shopping for plastic with plastic be explained with a logical explanation? That’s hard to say.

It’s easy to pass off these histrionics as irrational. While fellow shoppers listen to our conversation, they glance over in our direction and think, “That could never happen to me.” What they don’t know is that this lapse in self-control can happen to almost anyone – even me.

When shopping in my favourite stores with friends, I walk around with a look of indifference on my face. I act as if there’s nothing that interests me, yet my mind secretly salivates: Ooh, look at this! Ooh, look at that!

Within the walls of these emporiums of consumption, everything epitomizes perfection. The glossy shelves are layered with expertly folded clothes. The sweet fragrances beckon you to their counters. The soft lighting gives your complexion a healthy glow without the aide of a dermatologist. The environment and these objects of instant gratification are too immediate and real. You want it all.

Yet, I don’t buy a thing.

Why am I able to refrain from pulling out my credit card? One reason could be that I am a rational person. I lead with my head and follow with my heart (your head says you need a new pair of shoes, your heart makes you want run past Payless and go directly to Prada). Another reason could be that I can still feel my mother slapping my hand away from “Tupperware” (it hurt when she did it then, and it hurts when she does it now).

Does this make any sense? It does to me, albeit in a Freudian/Pavlovian sort of way.

Before my friend and I move onto the next store, something grabs my attention. It’s a little nothing-thing. I pick it up and notice that it doesn’t cost much; an addition to my collection. I mean, it isn’t like it was Tupperware.

My friend catches me looking at her and at the thing in my hand. She gives me a look. You know the look – a cross between a smirk and a warning. Like a petulant child, I slouch my shoulders and I put it back on the shelf; a little disappointed.

If she can’t buy anything today, then neither can I.


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