I tried to make it through the Thanksgiving weekend without shopping. Donna and I had cooked Thanksgiving dinner for ten, and we had a couple of friends stay over with us. We ate a lot of food, and stayed up late talking. I wanted to recuperate and relax. I didn’t make it.
On Saturday, I set off for the Union Square Greenmarket to get some local apples and dark leafy greens. I got sidetracked by the big “30% Off” sign in the window of J. Crew. I bought two plaid shirts and a wool fair isle sweater before I got to the kale, collard greens, and broccoli rabe.
It wasn’t completely my fault. My e-mail was bombarded with 30% and 40% off coupons. I tried to ignore them, but some marketer understands my psychology. I succumbed to the hype. The sweater is great; the two shirts are nice but a little long on me (or I am a little short for them). I don’t have buyer’s remorse. I have two more shirts I don’t need.
On Monday, I struggled to not peek at the Timberland, Lucky Brand, American Eagle Outfitters, and Brooks Brothers websites. I didn’t want to feel the shopping itch again. I didn’t want to be a Cyber Monday sucker. I heard the coupons singing to me. This time I resisted.
I unconsciously keep track of things I’ve seen (e.g. the wool sweater), things I’ve imagined will make me look good, clothes that will magically turn me from a butch frog into a handsome prince. It never works, but I keep believing that I will be transformed. I flip through the men’s sections of catalogs wishing I looked like the models. I can not buy my way out of being who I am, but I keep trying.
What I see in my head never matches what I see in the mirror. When I look in the mirror I distort the image. It is like having two circus mirrors, one on the inside and one on the outside. I do not have a way to accurately see whom I look like. I don’t have a clear picture of my silhouette; I can’t keep the crayon in-between the lines.
My holiday shopping is only for me. Donna and I don’t celebrate Christmas. The official reason is that I am Jewish and my parents believed that Jews observed Christmas by eating Chinese food. The unofficial reason is that my birthday is Christmas Eve. When I was little I resented that it was overshadowed by that other guy’s birthday. I didn’t want to celebrate either one.
I have mixed feelings about my birthday. I don’t like being the center of attention. My birthday was tainted by my mother’s disapproval of my boyishness, her desire for me to conform, and her inability or refusal to give me a present I might like. By the end of the day all I wanted to do was make a wish, blow out the candles, eat the cake, and go to bed.
I still have trouble with presents. I am unable to ask for what I want. I don’t believe that I will be taken seriously. I am afraid of being judged. I ask for things that are safe, like books (this year’s list includes Julia Serano‘s new book “Excluded” and Yotam Ottonlenghi’s first cookbook “Plenty“). If I yearn for something material, I will buy it. The intangibles I keep to myself.
Note: Here is a link to the Disney cartoon “Bone Trouble.” It is eight minutes of pure fun, starring Pluto and Butch the Bulldog. The scenes with Pluto in the Carnival’s Hall of Mirrors are fabulous. He handles mirrors much better than I do.