On shopping

by ofthewedge

I hate shopping. Unless it is for books, food or drink. Browsing from shop to shop is not a leisure activity; it is a form of penance. Loitering in a shop makes my back hurt. Loitering in a gallery or museum, at least there is the consolation that your mind may be expanding while your body aches. With shopping, you are conscious of time ebbing away, of moments lost for ever, trapped in a ceremony of looking, queuing and paying in the temple of mammon.

Two types of shopping are particularly objectionable. The first is accompanying someone who enjoys shopping, in a gesture of solidarity towards the woman you love. Here the experience is characterised by tedium. The second type is driven by the need to buy presents for people. I have a mental block on this front. Christmas is approaching and it is always an ordeal.  You know you have to buy something within a looming deadline, you don’t know what, and you don’t want to spend more than you have to.  This second type of shopping is characterised by fear verging on existential terror. 

Burdened with your purchases, you then have to carry them home. As I rarely drive, this means walking or, more likely, cycling home, balancing plastic bags on handlebars, sweating profusely.