Once upon a time, I enjoyed shopping.
Had I the wherewithal, I’d likely be a shopaholic with 6,389 pairs of shoes and a wardrobe vast enough to clothe the combined casts of all those Real Housewives shows that stretch from Beverly Hills to New Jersey. Yes, I really did enjoy shopping that much.
Alas, I now am a pensioner of pauperish means. I go on a shopping excursion only slightly more often than Adam Sandler makes me laugh, which, because I do not have the easily fleeced mind of an adolescent boy, is never. Thus, I shan’t be contributing to Lisa Rinna’s or Siggy Flicker’s walk-in clothes closets anytime soon.
Truthfully, there now is only one day of the year whereby I purposely set aside time for expansive, if not expensive, shopping, and that day of the year always arrives at Christmastime, when good fellowship reigns. Except in shopping malls.
It is my experience that joining the fray in a shopping mall at this time of year is an exercise in the group grump. There is no joy to that world. It is festive like tap water is draught beer. Basically, you’re in everybody’s way, and they aren’t shy about letting you know that it is you, not they, who bear the responsibility and burden of blame for any collision.
On Thursday, for example, I made some purchases at a Bay Centre shop. I had yet to put my wallet back in my purse when the woman next in line nudged me away from the counter. Literally. One of my bags toppled to the floor. I bent down to put it upright, then straightened myself and stared at her, expecting an apology. Not going to happen. She pushed past me and plopped her purchases atop my purse.
“Well, excuuuuuuuse me,” I said with the haughtiness of the haughtiest Real Housewife.
She froze me with an equally haughty Real Housewife glare. My body then chose that very moment to deliver a hot flash, exactly the same hot flash as that which I had experienced exactly one year earlier while shopping at Christmastime. In the exact same mall. I undid my scarf. I unbuttoned my heavy winter coat, which came in handy Thursday since what passes for winter in Victoria actually arrived. I dashed down the nearest escalator, then on to the sidewalk outdoors. I wanted to strip naked, but thought better of it. I stood on Government Street, held my coat open wide and happily allowed winter to bite me and whatever bare skin I chose to flash.
“This,” I said to myself, “isn’t menopause, it’s shopping mallopause. Malls make me overheat and make me want to peel off all my clothing.”
(Listen, fellas, I’m all for good will toward men, but I’m reasonably certain that me standing naked on a street in downtown Victoria isn’t what any of you has in mind.)
I never re-entered the Bay Centre. I couldn’t. I never buttoned up my coat again, either. I went to a handful of small specialty shops instead, and then Bart’s Pub, where not everyone knows my name but no real or faux housewives ever bully me. Along the way, a middle-age woman of unknown identity stopped me in a crosswalk and said, “You look really nice.” Her kind words cooled my heating system. My mallopause vanished.
Guaranteed that stranger’s kindness will be the nicest Christmas gift I shall receive this year.