Category Archives for "Shopping"

June 16, 2008

Underwear and swimsuits: all you need to turn an otherwise normal woman into a raving, homicidal maniac in 24 hours or less

As I was sorting through 638 loads of laundry today, it occurred to me that I am in desperate need of underwear. Every single pair I own has morphed into period underwear and I have absolutely nothing suitable in the event of a car accident.

I do have the pretty underwear I bought eons ago when Nate and I were dating – I mistook one for a doily the other day and used it under a candle on my window sill. Just for kicks and because I was alone in the house and mostly because I’m a masochist, I thought I’d see if they still fit me. I wrestled them over my thighs where access any higher was immediately blocked by my hips, hips that in no way resemble the hips I had when I first purchased this underwear. They then became uncomfortably bunched up and refused any efforts on my part to un-bunch. I tried some Cirque du Soleil moves I didn’t even know I had in me by contorting myself into positions not meant for the human body and managed to inch the panties over my hips to rest somewhere in the region of my lower waist although it’s been so long since I’ve actually seen my lower waist that I’m not entirely sure I was even in the same zip code as that part of my body.

I looked at my reflection in the mirror and saw what appeared to be my face, flushed with exertion, sitting atop a flesh colored, jumbo sized sleeping bag hogtied with twine. The only thing missing was a label warning CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE, MAY EXPLODE. I started to get a little dizzy and realized that if I didn’t extricate myself from the underwear as soon as possible, my circulation would be forever jeopardized and I’d find myself up close and personal with an emergency room doctor half my age who wouldn’t give me morphine no matter how much I’d beg for it.

I bent forward to start the horrific ordeal of wrenching the panties back down from whence they came but the panties became instantly lodged in a place known only as the Final Frontier and I knew I was a goner.

So I have decided to make the trek into retail hell and purchase some new underwear. And while I’m at it, I figure I’ll get a bathing suit at the same time and blow all my money and every shred of dignity I have at the same time, because I am nothing if not efficient.

And I will hold my breath, cross every appendage I have, knock on every piece of wood in this house, fall to my knees and pray that this time will not be like last time, to wit:

  • 9:45 a.m.: Dress in baggy shorts and baggy t-shirt and flip flops for easy-on, easy-off access.
  • 9:50: Stare at my reflection in the mirror and tell myself that I am a brave, strong, confident woman who survived a divorce, two c-sections and the eighties, a woman who deserves new underwear and a decent bathing suit, who has earned new underwear and a decent bathing suit, dammit, and nothing on the face of this planet is going to stop me from getting said underwear and bathing suit.
  • 10:00: Jump in the car, full of enthusiasm and optimism. The world is my oyster!
  • 10:01: Remember I hate oysters. Fiddle with radio stations, become appalled at what is considered an “oldie” and shout along with AC/DC to Shook Me All Night Long.
  • 10:15: Arrive at the mall and find a parking space right in front of the entrance. Consider it a good omen and celebrate by buying a muffin.
  • 10:20: Walk into the department store and head directly to the lingerie department. No time to gawk at the purses and shoes. I’m on a mission. I am resolute. I am determined. I am woman, hear me roar. ROAR.
  • 10:22: Arrive in the lingerie department and feel every inch of my body try to hide from every other inch of my body as I am forced to wade into a sea of waif like teens and women swarming around the rainbow assortment of thongs and bikini underwear. Make a mental note to write a letter of complaint to management detailing my displeasure at having to navigate through the Only in My Dreams section to get the Reality Sucks section.
  • 10:24: Arrive at the Reality Sucks section and stare at my choices of white or beige. Make a mental addendum to my letter of complaint to insist that those of us who weigh more than our IQ deserve colors of fuchsia, cyan and lemongrass too. Decide it’s not worth getting upset about and ruining my mood since I’m saving that for when I get to the bathing suit section. Figure that my ass is large enough without calling undue attention to itself, grab two packages of beige panties, sized NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS and make my way to the register.
  • 10:30: Head over to the swimsuit section. Pop a couple of Tylenol as a precaution. Pop another one, just in case.
  • 10:45: Find a handful of suits with some potential and head for the fitting room with visions of that perfect, black, slimming, flattering bathing suit at half price. Chat with the fitting room attendant.
  • 10:49: Wrestle the first suit on and discover it covers less than 30% of the territory it needs to cover in order for me not to be arrested for indecent exposure. Look with trepidation at the other suits waiting patiently on the hooks. Imagine that they are mocking me.
  • 11:10: Exit the dressing room, slightly perspiring and a bit concerned, and hand the rejected suits to the attendant. Dive back into the racks again, choosing twenty possibles. Mumble some nonsense to the attendant and re-enter the dressing room, still optimistic that I’ll find a good suit in a dark color at 20% off.
  • 11:30: Tap, knock and scrape the mirror, convinced there is something wrong with it.
  • 11:33: Look up to see what kind of lighting makes my skin look like playdough that’s been left out in the sun for four years.
  • 11:35: Nearly asphyxiate myself on a suit while trying to wrestle it over my head.
  • 12:05: Emerge from the fitting room, frustrated, a sheen of sweat on my face. Can’t find the attendant, toss the suits onto the discard rack, drag myself back onto the floor area and pick out any suit, any color, any size at whatever price in the hopes that if I throw a million darts, one is bound to hit a target.
  • 12:15: Suck in my stomach and ponder the physiological ramifications when it doesn’t move.
  • 12:20: Lose my balance while trying to fit my leg into the 79th suit, smash my head against the hook on the wall, briefly lose consciousness and awake to find my feet inexplicably entangled in my bra. Consider calling for help.
  • 12:25: Undergo a brief outer body experience. Wow.
  • 12:37: Silently cry within the confines of my dressing room and wax philosophical on the meaning of life for someone who is 5’2″, busty, short waisted, prematurely gray, broad shouldered with small, wide feet. Declare myself a freak of nature and make a mental note to look up the nearest leper colony.
  • 1:20: Emit a blood curdling scream, slam the door to the fitting room open and then rip it off its hinges when it swings back and hits me in the face. Throw the suits at the attendant now cowering in a corner, laugh maniacally and spew vulgarities at anyone within earshot. Stare down anyone in my way and march my battered, weary, sweat soaked self out of there with as much dignity as a 5’2″, busty, gray-haired, short-waisted, broad shouldered, small footed freak of nature can.

But this time it’s going to be different. This time, I’m going to park 300 yards from the entrance and that will make all the difference in the world.

Hope springs eternal.

Date night at Home Depot

Remember when you were first dating, you’d go out for a romantic dinner with candlelight, cloth napkins, unchipped plates and sturdy silverware? Spending hours just chatting and then afterwards, seeing a movie or going for a walk along a pier with an ice cream in hand, or maybe going to an outdoor concert for some good music and holding of hands? Maybe even taking a trip to Niagara Falls and finding yourselves under a gazebo next to the falls where you’d make out under the mist? Or maybe sitting on a grassy hill in a beautiful park where you’d make out under a gorgeous sunset?

And not for a nanosecond did the option of going to a home repair superstore ever pop into either of your heads when you tossed about answers to “What do you want to do tonight?”

Funny how things change, isn’t it? Because now, Nate and I will catch a greasy burger on the fly at Bill Gray’s and then, more often than not, wind up in the aisles of Home Depot and let me tell you, nothing screams romance louder than X-GROOVED, INSULATED, SANDED-TOP, SUB FLOORING ON SALE TODAY ONLY! Whew, just saying the words gets me all hot and bothered.

To be fair, we did try to act as if we were still on a date when we first started frequenting Home Depot. We’d hold hands, stroll leisurely through the paint and flooring sections, pointing out things we’d like to try in our own house when we married. We would read the item descriptions together and actually discuss the pros and cons of whatever home decorating decision we were struggling with at the time. We had conversations with words and everything.

But inevitably, the charm of being surrounded by compound miter saws, drywall and Quikrete quickly wears off and you realize that they could pump that place full of edible panties and Viagra and it won’t matter. The magic is gone, long gone and all you’re left with is the smell of sawdust and offers of $500 mail-in rebates in aisle ten for a limited time only so HURRY UP AND GET THERE ALREADY.

These days, Nate practically skips into Home Depot. I follow at a slug’s pace, reading the plethora of signs and advertisements, wondering whether I can fill out an application for the sole purpose of taking a drug test because that would take up some of the “just five minutes” destined to turn into two hours. But it turns out they don’t give drug tests willy nilly to just anyone so I’m out of luck. And hungry. And then it dawns on me that Home Depot could really widen its customer base by offering a dessert bar.

Because Nate automatically develops tunnel vision upon walking through the doors of Home Depot, he is immediately immersed in what I’m sure is a fascinating mental discussion of the benefits of 1-5/8 inch drywall screws as opposed to 1-1/4 inch drywall screws. I am left to wander around aimlessly and without purpose.

Sometimes I wind up in the paint department where I pretend that I live in a world where I actually have a say in the colors we choose for our walls (if this makes no sense, see my PEACH BLOSSOM MIST post). I pick a dozen or so paint swatches and create wonderfully colorful schemes that will never see the light of day in our house. Then I get sad and depressed, crumple up my paint swatches and continue my pointless meandering.

On one such meander, I found myself in the flooring section and came across some very plain, bare, white twelve inch ceramic tiles. They looked so lonely sitting there amongst all the colorfully decorated smaller tiles. I felt an immediate kinship with them, having spent more than my fair share of time as one of “those” moms who watches her daughter’s gymnastics while attired in a bulky sweatshirt, dirty sneakers and no make-up, while sitting next to one of “those” moms with trendy flipped-up hair, smart leather jacket, high heel boots and a french manicure. My heart went out to those lonely twelve inch tiles and I experienced an “I AM NOT AN ANIMAL, I AM A HUMAN BEING” epiphany, grabbed those tiles up and headed to the checkout where I met up with Nate who, though he’ll deny it, had completely forgotten that I had come with him.

At home, I went to work. I created my designs in photoshop, had them printed, trimmed them and then battled fiercely with Mod Podge, a battle I ultimately won but not before I had cried buckets and doubted my self worth. After I reached what I thought was the end of my journey, I leaned my tiles up against our walls to admire my handiwork. I dragged Nate from his beloved TV to show him and he stared at them for a minute before asking what purpose they served. Out of sheer frustration, I yelled “THEY’RE ART – THEY DON’T HAVE TO SERVE A PURPOSE – HENCE, THEY’RE ART” and proceeded to move them around to show their versatility. Upon moving one of the tiles, we immediately noticed that our walls looked as if we had locked a rabid cat in the room that had scratched her claws down to the nub trying to escape. Apparently, the naked backs of the tiles did not play nicely with our freshly painted walls and after Nate turned all shades of purple but before he had an actual heart attack, I ran out to the fabric store, picked up some felt, covered those naked backs and thereby saved Nate’s life, and that of my tiles, in one fell swoop.

And these are the fruits of my labors:

And because I had tiles and creative juices left over, I decided to make some more, taking full advantage of the free time I had since I had decided that doing laundry and going grocery shopping just wasn’t fun anymore. And you know, you can never have enough altered twelve inch tiles, a fact that I keep trying to drill into Nate’s head, but he won’t listen to me anymore:

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with these, but I like looking at them. They make me think of possibilities, of creating something out of nothing, of making that proverbial lemonade out of lemons.

If this inspiration lasts, I’m thinking date night at Home Depot won’t be such a bad thing after all.

By request: The Infamous Chia Pet Incident

I’ve been asked to blog about the infamous Chia Pet incident that happened in our household a couple of years ago. For those of you who are familiar with this story, I apologize and will try not to be offended if you up and abandon me at this very moment. No promises, though.

For all you uninitiated folk … it’s about the fall of a good, kind hearted man who had the best of intentions and stars a tall, dark, handsome, thoughtful, loving, utterly clueless husband and father who shall remain nameless, except that I’ll call him Nate.

A couple of days before Christmas 2006, our youngest daughter, then six, happened to see a Chia Pet commercial on television. Because it did not resemble the 2,732 toys currently strewn about her room, she wanted one. And because it did not resemble a Polly Pocket, I considered it.

It’s not as if she longed for a Chia Pet. In fact, Helena would most likely have forgotten all about it by the next day, much like her promises to pick up her underwear and stop burping in public. But if we did get one, another ten dollars was not going to break our Christmas budget. A budget that was immortalized in all its glory by the very anal, bordering-on-obsessive-compulsive, brightly colored two page Excel spreadsheet I had created. That thing rocked.

As Nate was already going out, I mentioned that if he happened to run across a Chia Pet, to pick it up for Helena but no biggie if he didn’t. And because Nate is Nate, he heard me say DO WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO DO, SELL YOUR SOUL TO THE DEVIL IF NEED BE, BUT GET THIS POOR, DEPRIVED CHILD A CHIA PET, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. PICK UP SOME MILK WHILE YOU’RE AT IT.

A few days later, I remembered the Chia Pet and asked Nate whether he had found one so I could update my very anal, bordering-on-obsessive-compulsive, brightly colored two page Excel spreadsheet. And he said to me “Oh yeah, that. I ordered two but I don’t know if they’ll get here by Christmas.”

Ordered? Two?

Upon further questioning, I learned that Nate wanted no part of the bloody, gut wrenching, cutthroat slaughter that is holiday shopping so he decided to order it online. And he got one for Zoe as well.

I wasn’t surprised that Nate had bought them online because if it came right down to it and it was available on the Internet, Nate would buy the air we breathe online. Who cares that we live within a five mile vicinity of at least ten major retail chains that stock Chia Pets? Online shopping saves time and gas and there’s no hassle dealing with real live people. Online shopping is nirvana.

I also wasn’t surprised that he bought one for Zoe even though she is allergic to anything green or messy, because Nate is a very thoughtful father like that. He always thinks of both girls. Like when Helena was two and Zoe was eight and Nate bought them each a star for Christmas. An actual star in our solar system with coordinates and everything. But because it’s against postal regulations to ship nuclear energy encased in a fiery ball of gas across state lines, the star company sent the girls official certificates instead. They could read about the stars they owned. How the company became the presumptive owner of all the stars in our universe in the first place was a little baffling but who cares? IT’S A STAR. WITH COORDINATES AND EVERYTHING. The certificates even came framed. All for $90. Each. Zoe wasn’t sure what to do with a gift that lived a billion light years away but she was appreciative of her certificate. Helena clapped happily and drooled all over hers.

So I ask Nate what he paid for these Chia Pets that may not even arrive before Christmas. And he tells me $20. Each.

I try to curb the wave of panic that I can feel riding over me as I mentally try to reconcile this piece of information with my very anal, bordering-on-obsessive-compulsive, brightly colored two page Excel spreadsheet. In my head, I’m shuffling items from one column to another, changing colors and crossing certain items off the list entirely, such as Christmas dinner.

And then it hits me. I didn’t ask the key question. Can you guess what it was?

Wait for it … here it comes …



How much was shipping?

To his credit, Nate did not lose his composure, fall to the ground and beg for mercy as I would have done. He did not stutter, he did not stammer, he did not plead temporary insanity. He just stood there and said clear as a bell: $20. Each.

Are you with me so far? Because that is a grand total of EIGHTY DOLLARS. For two stinking Chia Pets that may or may not arrive in time for Christmas for two little girls, one of whom would almost certainly say “ewwww” upon opening it and the other, having completely forgotten about seeing it on television, would ask why Daddy was giving her grass.

My very anal, bordering-on-obsessive-compulsive, brightly colored two page Excel spreadsheet went up in flames and I turned to Nate, resisted the compulsion to throttle him on the spot and demanded to know what, in the name of all that is holy, possessed him to cross so far over into the realm of lunacy that I barely recognized him? Nate who?

And do you know what that man said to me?

“Don’t you think $80 is worth it if they enjoy it and it improves the quality of their lives?”

Nate, can I just confirm that we are talking about the same thing, specifically an inanimate object made out of terra cotta with foliage sprouting out of its freakish head? I just want to make sure we’re on the same page, because I’m feeling like you called in sick, packed your swim shorts and bought a one way ticket to the dimension known as I HAVE LOST MY MIND, THE WATER’S FINE, COME ON IN and I have no idea how to get there. But as my feet are firmly planted in the dimension known as REALITY, I feel compelled to tell you that I read What To Expect When You’re Expecting twice, Mr. Lunatic Fringe, and NOWHERE IS THERE A CHIA PET MENTIONED.

That eighty bucks grew exponentially as I did mental math and calculated in the cost of bail and the court-issued anger management therapy that I could guarantee was in my immediate future.

For those of you who have stayed with me until the bitter end … no, they didn’t arrive in time for Christmas.

Wii … the odyssey

We’re all familiar with this little gem, right? I give you the Wii, in all its glory:

Last November, my husband wasn’t a big fan. When I broached the subject of getting a Wii for the kids for Christmas by saying “hey, why don’t we get a Wii for the kids” my husband took that to mean “hey, why don’t we get a PlayStation 3 for the kids” because he’s quirky that way. When I responded that the kids didn’t want a PlayStation 3, they wanted a Wii, he tried to dazzle me with techno jargon about how superior the graphics were on a PlayStation 3 and how awesome they would look on our brand spanking new TV.

TV did you say? You mean that 42″ ultra modern, flat-screen behemoth of high-definition that dwarfs everything around it and currently resides in our living room with all of our normal sized furniture? That “bargain” of a monstrosity that was only going to cost this much but actually wound up costing that much because we couldn’t have a TV like that without having the proper stand on which to put it, the appropriate receiver with which to run it, the best speakers with which to hear it and the top-of-the-line remote with which to control it? The TV I didn’t want? That one?

We had a sit-down with the kids to discuss the Wii vs. PS3 scenario. Nate had our eldest almost convinced that PS3 was the second coming while our youngest was steadfast in her desire for a Wii but willing to negotiate in exchange for a later bedtime. I finally convinced the family that the Wii was the better choice as it retailed for about half of the PS3 and was better suited for family time. It was a struggle and there were tears and temper tantrums and hissy fits but Nate got over himself and finally conceded.

Nate thought he would just walk into Target or Best Buy and pick one up after work. I asked him if something heavy had hit him on the head and then dragged him to the aforementioned behemoth parked in our living room so that he could see the CNN sound bites showing mobs of people lining up for days to get one. It then became Nate’s personal mission in life to get us a Wii, come hell or high water, so help him God.

To his credit, Nate did try the conventional approach once. He woke up at 4:00 am, drove through the bitter cold, sleet and snow to stand in line at Kmart for a shipment of Wii Systems expected that morning (by the way, what exactly is the plural of Wii? WiiWiis?) After about an hour, a blithely unaware Kmart employee came out and announced to the 50+ cold, wet, hungry, caffeine-deprived customers that a newly arrived shipment of twenty-six Wii Systems would be available in minutes. I have no idea if that poor guy ever made it out alive. All I know is Nate came home around 6:00 a.m., empty handed and with a dazed expression, mumbling something about mob mentality, rioting and Darwin’s Law.

I told Nate about an online service that sent notifications of newly arrived Wii Systems at local Wal-Marts and wouldn’t it be a nifty idea if we signed up? No, apparently we did not have time for such nonsense and besides, Nate had a plan.

And that plan went something like this:

On November 21, 2007 Nate purchased a brand new, unopened, factory-sealed, receipt-attached Wii off eBay. He paid nearly double the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Approximately 9.2 seconds after submitting his PayPal payment, he became ticked that the seller didn’t immediately respond. Through gritted teeth, I suggested that he calm the hell down and give the seller a break since it was the night before Thanksgiving. Then I left the room before I killed him.

On November 22, 2007, after Thanksgiving dinner, Nate purchased a second brand new, unopened, factory-sealed, receipt-attached Wii off eBay for a little over double the MSRP as a backup plan. I should have known something was up as he had been staring at his laptop for hours, during which time I actually touched and held the TV remote, an act that normally causes him to twitch, break out in hives and have a seizure.

Did I mention that the receipts clearly showed that both Wii Systems had been purchased from a Wal-Mart? I didn’t? Well, they did. And it was all I could do to remain vertical as I literally watched sparks fly off my body and fought the urge to dismember him right there on the spot. Then I disassociated from my earthly body and went to the Land of Denial where it’s sunshine all the time and no one bothers me and I look thin and pretty.

A couple of days later, we were the proud owners of two brand new Wii Systems. And then Nate came home from work and what do you suppose he was carrying? Flowers? Chocolate? A prescription for Xanax? No. He was carrying a third brand new, unopened, factory-sealed, receipt-attached Wii.

When he saw that I was nanoseconds from outright spontaneous combustion, he quickly explained that he had purchased this Wii for only $30 over the MSRP, no eBay/PayPal transactions were involved, and he would list the other two Wii Systems on eBay that very night and recoup our money. I questioned him as to where he got this particular Wii. Oh, funny story this one … his co-worker bought it from Wal-Mart that very day. And how did he know to go to Wal-Mart that very day for a Wii? Nate muttered something about a lucky email. Oh yeah, that extra $30? That was just to compensate his co-worker for all of his efforts in procuring a Wii for Nate. I actually don’t remember too much after this. I might have passed out.

But I’m thinking that it just may have been worth it:

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