SHOP TILL YOU DROP – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I love shopping when I’m looking for something specific. It’s like a treasure hunt. My pulse quickens and all my senses go on high alert. I’m like an animal stalking prey. Will I find it down the next aisle? Or around the next corner? The perfect short-sleeved top in a bright summer color with a round or V neckline. Or the earrings that will go perfectly with my turquoise and white print dress.

Why do we get such a rush when we find some item to buy that meets the needs of the moment? Why do we get such a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction when we buy it and take it home? Why do we get so excited when we take it out and use it or wear it for the first time?

The endorphin rush I get from shopping must have physiological and evolutionary roots. It’s such a common phenomenon among humans. Maybe it’s like the primeval drive of the hunter or gatherer to provide for his family. Maybe we are programmed to enjoy the search for the necessities of life. Then, by extension, we end up thrilled by the search for amenities and even frivolities as well.

People can even get addicted to shopping – online shopping, QVC television shopping, all kinds of shopping. Most people can control their shopping urges. I have actually been on a long shopping hiatus. These days I only shop at the supermarket, the hardware store and the pet store.

I’m at a point in my life when I really don’t need much. I have enough clothes and too much jewelry. Also a house full of books. After two years of decorating, my house won’t need anything decorative for years. My only recent purchase was a new Cuisinart to replace the old one that broke.

So I satisfy my shopping needs by shopping with friends. I get the thrill of the hunt with none of the guilt from spending too much money. Or the angst of deciding what to buy and whether or not to actually buy it. It’s also fun figuring out what someone else will like. It adds an intellectual element to the game.

I went clothes shopping with a friend today. I’d forgotten how intense and focused I get when I shop. I was thrilled when my friend said I have a good eye and that I’m a great shopper. What a compliment! I felt elated!

Now that I’ve got my shopping fix, I can go back to suppressing my shopping urges. At least until I can find another friend who has to go to a wedding!

20 thoughts on “SHOP TILL YOU DROP – BY ELLIN CURLEY”

  1. If you are a collector like I am the thrill of the hunt is nearly as much fun as acquiring the item. It’s what takes us to markets, op shops, antique shops and of course online. I have a long eBay watch list but I know that I have no intention of buying most of the things on it. I like to find them and see how much they will sell for if they are out of my price range so I guess I am addicted to looking if not to buying.

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    1. You are so right about the thrill of the hunt! I used to have long lists of fsvorites from Etsy in lots of different categories. I might actually buy one or two items, but the search itself is the real fun! And the meticulous decision making process.

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  2. I always thought of shopping for bargains as the ultimate contact sport. Carly Simon and I once went at it over an orange silk blouse on a street on Martha’s Vineyard. I’m proud to say that I got the blouse. Garry once fought off Garson Kanin at Filene’s Basement one afternoon. Contact sport. My mother taught me well.

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    1. I “beat off” Garson Kanin, with Ruth Gordon’s help, for a pair of jeans in an Edgartown shop. The nerve of that old guy. Just because he was a Hollywood celeb. I saw those jeans first.

      I was regularly assigned to cover the “Bridal Wear” shopping frenzies at Filene’s basement. Talk about mortal combat!!

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          1. I should amend that. UNLESS you are the President. Then, the press never stops trying to come up with a story. I know because Garry was on the Clinton detail twice and the problem was, there WAS no story but he had to come up with something. Lots of beauty shots of the sun setting and stuff.

            The reason Garry was on the assignment, as was his photographer? They already shared a house on the Vineyard, so Channel 7 didn’t have to pay for housing, which would have cost them money. But it was a GREAT 2-week assignment anyway. I got to lounge around the dock all day — or go shopping or wandering around with a camera — and at night, Garry came back for dinner and we did something entertaining. I loved the Vineyard. It was not at all like going to a resort.

            It’s a place out of time and out of synch with the rest of America. We used to talk about going back to the Cape as “going to America.” The Vineyard was special in a way that you only understand when you are there for a couple of weeks. You develop your own separate social life — very much like you guys with your sailing friends, actually. And of course — sailing is really huge there. Our house WAS on a dock and everyone had a boat, even if it was just a little bitty thing.

            You need to spend some time there to really get it. By the third day of the first week, you lose your watch. By the end of the week, you lose your underwear. By the second week, you’ve forgotten what you used to do in America. It’s THE place to forget the rest of the world. After we bought this place, we couldn’t afford it anymore. The place we had shared had been sold, so we had to find a place of our own and we did. It was reasonable and great for the first couple of years, but then they doubled prices, then raised them another 50%. We were putting this house together, so even with two salaries, it was too much to carry. Also, living — not in Boston — didn’t need it as much. While this isn’t the Vineyard, it is the country.

            We had our own rivers and trees. Okay, not Nantucket Sound and we didn’t get to hang our with James Taylor’s family (we never actually met James — we did hang out some with his sister and brothers — there are like five of them and they ALL sing). And Kate could make a roll of maki the length of your ARM and slice fish direct from the sea into sushi slices to die for (fresh sea bass is pretty good, especially when it just came off the hook). We didn’t get to meet all the pols and celebs Garry interviewed at work (and Garry was still working, so HE was a celebrity at the time, too, though we tended to forget it while we were there. So many folks were REALLY famous and powerful. A local news reporter didn’t seem such a big deal.

            THAT’s how we met the Clintons and THAT’s how come we knew Patricia Neal and Alfred Eisenstadt — all from the Vineyard. You were not allowed to EVERY ask for an autograph (uncool in the extreme) … but you could meet people and actually have a conversation, although I do have a tendency to totally clam up when I meet someone I really admire. I couldn’t even say hello to Prez Clinton — and I met him twice and was totally tongue-tied both times. But so were most people. But Eisenstadt was a HUGE thing for me and a little push pull with Carly for one bright orange silk blouse was a fun sport on a warm afternoon in June.

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  3. This is where we differ Ellin. I really don’t like shopping. It takes up so much time and I often can’t find what I need. It can be very frustrating for me so I put it off as much as possible.
    Leslie

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        1. True every once in a while, i realize one of my night gowns is in tatters and I need to replace underwear and socks, but clothing? Unless I have a Big Event, I don’t need anything. I may NEVER need anything. Now, about other things — like vacuum cleaners and DVD players and toaster overs and such — they do NOT last a lifetime. I only wish they did!

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            1. I have collected enough clothesnover the years that I don’t have to wear the same things too often. So my clothes last for a very long time. Underwear maybe not so long. But I have noticed that my newer clothes get tiny holes in them after about a year, no matter how infrequently I wear them. Usually jersey material or cotton knits.

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                1. Thinner fabric and it is all natural — without that bit of polyester to keep it a little tougher — yes, the polyester actually DID something. Also, the thread they use is really cheesy. If you ever made your own clothing, even briefly, it’s the kind of thread you would never buy because you wash it once and it dissolves.

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      1. A friend told me about personal shoppers that you can get by appointment at major stores. She used them to find a mother of the groom dress. SHe said it was a wonderful experience. Who knew?

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    1. I rarely go shopping in person anymore. I do it as a fun activity when my daughter is in town. Particularly shopping for clothes. We can be chief critics for each other and help with what can often be a painful decision making process. Otherwise, I shop online for the few things I need each year.

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      1. I can see where it would be a fun time with your daughter, Ellin. It’s always good to have a second pair of eyes on your clothing choices.
        Leslie

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