Confessions of a shopaholic
Blissful browsing can
lose its gloss with a small anti-shopper in tow. Simonne Walmsley
makes a retail run for it, sans enfant.
I've been fantisising. It's been over a year since the
need for my confession, and I've missed being very bad indeed.
Well, maybe not over a year since the need for my confession, maybe
over a year since the need for my confession actually resulted in
my confession, but you get the general idea. I haven't been
shopping since my son was born and I need to go shopping. How I've
missed coffee-fuelled crisp weekend mornings happily spent in
Ponsonby boutiques, the resultant wondering how I'll get my newly
acquired treasures past my husband, as I carefully pack bags within
bags in an attempt to reduce bulk and making mental notes that the
Mastercard bill will be due in the letterbox around the end of the
month and it would be best for preservation of life if it were to
be promptly burned on arrival, or, if absolutely necessary, eaten
between the letterbox and the house.
It's fair to concede, and you may have
noticed, that I enjoy a spot of shopping - in much the same was as
a lion enjoys a good wildebeest, I'd say. The hunt, the find, the…
Well, you know what happens to the wildebeest next. No need to go
into the gory detail, really. I love to trek into the shopping
district, as early as doesn't fall into the category of ridiculous,
before the rest of the weekend shoppers and brunchers come out to
play and so I can get a park somewhere that means I can wear
unsuitable footwear without risk of my feet falling off from
actually having to walk anywhere. And when there...Oh! There's much
to be said for making that perfect find, nestled on the racks or
sitting, waiting on a shelf, just for me, falling happily and
instantly in love, complete with joyous heart palpitations, then of
course having actual palpitations when I oh so casually take a peek
at the price tag, and that peek being quickly followed by some
seriously dubious accounting to justify the indulgence before
cheerfully continuing on my way, moving ever closer to my next
So, I start plotting. I will abandon my
not-shopping-friendly child to the able care of his father, I will
make my adventure and I. Will. Shop. I will shop without risk of
finding myself in a changing room in my
desperately-in-need-of-replacement-and-burning underwear while the
little terrorist I gave birth to disappears through the curtain
into the store and probably out the main door as well, faster than
you can say, "Ah, hell!" I will drink my coffee and eat my noms,
savouring instead of wearing either or both, which is my absolute
preference, but mostly not the way it works out. There will be no
need to move like lightning to accommodate the limits of toddlery
tolerance, nor the subsequent scarlet-faced child loudly protesting
from the platform of his buggy. There will also be no wrestling of
said child into a sling only to have him deftly and immediately
twist himself back out, launching loudly ground-ward and thereafter
continuing to wildly gesticulate and remonstrate for the duration.
There most certainly will be no repeats of prior attempts at
civilised excursions which were, I assure you, anything
You may wonder, as did I, how bad it could
be, as you channel visions of the relaxed, blissful mothers you see
out and about, transporting their contented offspring however they
choose, in buggy or sling, stopping for coffee, eating lunch,
browsing storefronts and treasures within, perhaps conversing with
a friend who came along. Yes, quite. Heaven knows what they drug
the kids with because I'm much more familiar with everyone within a
10-kilometre radius being aware of our general location, and not in
a good way.
Let me give you the example of the great
coat-acquiring horror of last winter. The plan was simple, to find
and purchase a new coat. I'd learned from past shopping attempts
and had first narrowed it down to a store and even a style courtesy
of the internet and email. What could go wrong? All that was
needed was to walk through the door, make my selection, and voila!
New coat! For once, I would be that relaxed mother out shopping
with her contented offspring.
Unfortunately, what actually ensued was a
process requiring much speed and contortion as I jiggled the
flailing, disagreeable anti-shopper simultaneously with attempting
to try on the first thing I saw that looked like it might keep rain
off and wind out, paring "trying on" down to shoving an arm in to
make sure said arm fit and noting to see if it looked like it'd do
up, before breathing deeply through an appalling and un-anticipated
test of fabric durability and stain resistance. I don't know who
was doing more praying - the sales assistant that I would get out
of her store and never return, or me that I'd actually make it out
of the store instead of hanging myself off one of the racks.
After that, in my desperation, I have also
been known to attempt shopping with the husband in tow, which has
significant kid-wrangling advantages, but there's the ever-present,
very real risk that he's paying just a bit more attention to what
I'm doing than he's letting on, and despite the not insignificant
level of distraction that the mini-us generally provides, that he's
hearing more of the hushed conversation at the till than he's
letting on to.
So, I plotted and it was exactly as I'd
been fantisising when I walked around the familiar leafy corner,
and laid eyes on the small courtyard entrance of Agnes Curran which
would lead me to the haven where I'd contemplate my morning,
blissfully unaware of exactly how much I was about to spend on a
pair of shoes at Mei Mei.
There is no better way to start a day
shopping than sitting in my favourite cafe on a beautiful morning
full of shopping promise, savouring an excellent coffee. Perhaps
cake also, even though it's far too early for cake, because they do
a divine lemon syrup cake.
I'm a creature of habit and many a shopping
morning has started this way for me. It was wonderful to be sitting
again within the maelstrom of happy chaos, at the large well-loved
middle table which squeezes itself in amongst cabinets and shelves
housing all manner of bits and pieces and supports a large Fun Ho!
dump truck with its tray filled with milkshake lollies, and a
haphazard pile of Saturday morning papers. There are books and old
things everywhere and a number of knitted tea cosies that make me
desperately want a teapot, while I perch on my metal stool
absorbing everything as the singing café staff offer information on
the soundtrack to our coffee.
I promised myself before setting out that I
wouldn't look at my watch. At all. The plan was that the home front
was covered and I was to spend the day drinking coffee, browsing
boutiques and shopping until I needed to spend the next ten years
confessing to my sins.
So, I did, which is, as it turns out rather
unexpectedly, where I truly appreciated for the first time how my
perception of time has changed with having a toddler. When I phoned
my husband to say I was on my way home after a relaxing day spent,
feeling absolutely indulgent, my promise not to look at my watch
honoured absolutely, a single, horrified glance down showed me that
only two-and-a-half hours had passed since I had left the house,
and 20 minutes of that was spent looking for my car because I
couldn't remember what side street I'd parked it down. Don't even
ask me about travel time (20 minutes). Actually, horrified doesn't
even begin to cover it.
As my old shopping-pro self snorted
derisively at my current out-of-practice self, I considered taking
another run at it but, actually, I was a bit knackered and I'd
achieved the blissful shopping-happiness I'd been dreaming of for
weeks, albeit in embarrassingly record time.
I went, I saw, I conquered a pair of shoes,
and it felt like the perfect day. I may also have conquered a pair
of jeans, a cardy and a set of three Tony Sly Rustic Range bowls
with butter-yellow glazing to add to the perfection, but I will
neither confirm nor deny, and the credit card account which could
prove it never did seem to arrive in the mail… No idea what
happened to it.
Simonne is mother to a toddler and married to Al, who knows
exactly why the credit card bills keep disappearing and intends to
get to the next one first.
As seen in OHbaby!
magazine Issue 11: 2010
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