When I walk into a department store, I get the sensation…

Do you remember that commercial with the woman who got a sensation that looked very much like a mint-induced orgasm when she bit into a York Peppermint Pattie?

When I walk into a department store, I get the sensation that a giant cloud of molecule-scrambling toxins surrounds me. Lights flicker, alarms go off, the “check price” scanner won’t read the tag no matter which freakin’ way I turn it, my muscles tremble from carrying too much, I get stuck in a pretzel position with my arms above my head as I try to take off some top that I should have known was too tight as I was putting it on, I sweat profusely, my hands smell of metal hangers, I have to scrape someone’s chewed gum (formerly stuck to the filthy, smelly-feet-scented dressing room carpet) from my shoe, the lady tells me I can take only 3 items in of the 350 I have schlepped into the dressing room, the “sanitary” strips in the crotches of the bathing suits mock me with their whispered taunts of “STD, STD, STD,” the sales clerks never let me use any of my coupons.

Cigarette? No? Wasn’t that good for you? You must not have masochistic tendencies. Neither do I. That’s why I do all my shopping in front of a computer monitor.

What makes my department store shopping experiences even more depressing is that I know they aren’t like that for everyone. When my Mom walks into a department store, it’s like that scene in the Wizard of Oz when the four pals gain access to the Emerald City and are whisked off to the spa for mane curling and other pampering. Everything is on sale, everything fits, all coupons are accepted, the sales lady even allows her to use multiple coupons on the same purchase and then gives my Mom her special employee discount and hands her a wad of bills as change.

I have tried everything from reciting motivational mantras in my car before entering the store, to having Dr. Phil-like pep talks with myself (“Behave as if you’re not a big shopping loser”), but it’s no use. They smell my fear. The crowds in the aisles part like the Red Sea as I approach. Even the perfume ladies won’t deign to spray me with their designer DDT. That may be the best part.

When I stay at home and shop online, I get the sensation that I’ve just avoided the biggest rat race in the world, that I’ve bought things at the same sale prices without the hassle and with free shipping in most cases, and that there won’t be any emergency GYN appointments in my future.

Happy Holidays!



  1. Mommarge said,

    December 10, 2010 at 8:06 am

    I know we have been discussing this for years but it is much funnier in writing. Love you, Mom

  2. Richard said,

    December 10, 2010 at 10:11 am

    You’ll get no defense of the shopping experience from me. I totally sympathise with your rant. And at this time of year it’s even more unbearable. It’s like being in a zombie movie.

    I loved the line, ‘I get stuck in a pretzel position with my arms above my head as I try to take off some top that I should have known was too tight as I was putting it on.’ ROFL! 😀

    You should write comedy. 😉

    • December 10, 2010 at 10:19 am

      It *is* like being in a zombie movie except money is getting sucked from your wallet instead of brains from your head.

      I’ve found myself in that pretzel position too many times. It’s terrifying when you think you may have to walk out of the dressing room like that in search of rescue. I swear dressing rooms are where Houdini practiced his craft.

  3. huffygirl said,

    December 10, 2010 at 10:52 am

    I’m with you Margaret. The stores, the crowds. They never have the right sizes. And this time of year stores often bring in clothing and other items of lesser quality than what they normally sell. Everything from big chunky sweaters to cheaply-made jewlery boxes. They clog the aisles and make the shopping experience even more stressful. I shop online as much as I can. Even if the store has a bricks and mortor location in my own town.

    • December 10, 2010 at 5:30 pm

      Plus, a lot less impulse shopping happens when you shop on your computer. I suspect that most people don’t go online to hunt for cheaply-made jewelry boxes, but they might succumb when they walk by the cutesy, glittery display.

  4. Richard Huttinger said,

    December 10, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Happy Humbug Maggie,

    I’m also a shop-a-phobe. Is there anything in a Mall or dept. store that isn’t toxic? The mobs of coughing, sneezing bearers of air-born viruses are enough to keep me at home. I also avoid parties for this reason. I prefer to get my STDs from direct contact, so I’m more inclined to take a willing stranger(s) rather than piles of garments into the dressing room with me. This can also prove helpful with the pretzel problem. Catalogs with free shipping and a liberal return policy have the most appeal to me on the rare occasions that I actually buy something other than food. The idea of entering a credit card number into a computer gives me a deep sense of insecurity that can interfere with the important business or hibernating.

  5. girlboxing said,

    December 10, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Great rant! I find it easier to order a garment, try it on and return it if it doesn’t fit then dealing with the fitting room at Macy’s!

  6. Zahara said,

    December 11, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    I, too, experience a severe reaction to the molecule scrambling toxins present in department stores. By the time I’m done I usually end up putting back anything I might have miraculously found and leaving the store in a stupor.
    Online shopping is a godsend.

    • December 11, 2010 at 9:09 pm

      I’ve done that so many times myself, totally overwhelmed. Stupor is a good word for it.

      Thanks for stopping by, “Softie Mom.” 😉

  7. Jessica S said,

    December 13, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    You know what I hate about going shopping? That dry, recycled air. My contacts hate it, so when I walk in, they immediately start scratching at my eyes. By the time I get to the checkout I look like the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. I’m strung out, anxious, and ready to throw something at the cashier’s head, yelling, “You’re late for tea.”

    • December 13, 2010 at 7:24 pm

      Now that you mention it, I have the contacts issue, too. There’s a drug on the market for dry eyes, but it makes you wet your pants, vomit, have violent urges, and shoplift.

  8. fordeville said,

    December 13, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    Oh God, the sanitary strips!! My skin is crawling just thinking about them. Uggggh. Nasty, nasty, nasty. I’ll take my merchandise in the faux-hermetically sealed online packaging, thankyouverymuch.

    • December 13, 2010 at 11:44 pm

      You see? Just the thought sends you into convulsions. I’ve never been able to figure out just what the purpose of those things are.

  9. Blockader said,

    December 19, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Margaret, Much like you I hate shopping. I even considered switching to online, but it turns out that the mall supplies me with such a wealth of story ideas that I have to keep going back. Check out this encounter.


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