Shopping Envy

Nothing much happening in “middle earth” folks. Halloween has come and gone. We had one doorbell ring with five kids on Halloween night. Weather could have been a factor in the abysmal turnout (it was cold and windy with occasional bursts of rain). Still, if you ask me, that doesn’t explain one doorbell ring!  I can remember many a Halloween night spent following my kids door to door in less than desirable weather conditions. Naturally we have plenty of candy left in the bowl as well as two large unopened bags. Before the lights went out that night I had picked out a small handful of my favorites from the bowl (Mounds-sometimes-feel-like-a-nut, and a few Snickers bars) and the rest, before I was tempted to open them, went into Rocket-man’s car to take to the office.

So after spending more than a week in California I feel like I’m back in Green Acre’s-ville…sort of.  I’m Lisa Douglas on Green Acres pining away for the city life. I’m glad I’m not alone. I just met a gal via a former colleague from my Northern Virginia days. This gal also got dragged to “middle earth” in much the same fashion that I did. She used to live in Washington D.C. and her husband’s job took them here. She, like me, laments the lack of good restaurants, fabulous museums and entertainment venues, and shopping.

“I miss shopping the most. I have to buy everything on-line,” she said just the other day while we worked out together in punch bag class. “It’s just so annoying,” she said as she gave the heavy bag a strong jab-cross punch.

“Did you work outside of the home in D.C.,” I asked breathily as I delivered a series of switch kicks to my heavy bag.

“Yes, but here I cannot find a job in my field. Can you believe there are no investment banks here? I’m working in a traditional bank getting paid far less than my previous job.”

I feel her pain, although to be truthful, as a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none type I didn’t leave a high-paying job.  But I totally concur about shopping here.

In my humble opinion, shopping in this town leaves a lot to be desired. It’s definitely not exciting, lacking in too many ways to count. Sure, there are two traditional malls (and you know what those are like!) as well as two Barnes & Noble’s, one Costco, several Targets and way too many Wal-Marts.  No offense intended to Wal-Mart lovers but I’m fairly certain that if Armageddon happened tomorrow and a Wal-Mart was all that was left standing, I would not step foot inside.   I will confess to going to a Wal-Mart several years ago but only because I love Rocket-man and he needed help: We had to pick up party-food items that had been ordered for his mother’s eightieth birthday party.  With two grocery carts piled high with enough Hoagies to feed two armies, I all but ran out of the store.  I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.  Rocket-man was supremely grateful and promised I’d never have to do it again!

“Damn straight,” I say in my sweetest voice.

Wal-Marts aside, imagine my surprise when my new neighbor needed to go dress shopping. Specifically, evening dress attire.  I honestly stifled a laugh as the first thought that came to mind was that this would be an exercise in futility.

I had received a text message on Wednesday evening of last week from my neighbor Tonia:

Tonia: Are you going to the Saint Barbara’s ball this weekend?

Me: I hadn’t heard about it.

Tonia went on to explain that it was an event Rocket-man would know about and indeed, it turns out Rocket-man knew about the ball but in his predictable absent-minded-professor kind of way forget about mentioning it. To be fair, he was literally drowning in a sea of work emails.

“Rocket-man knew about the ball,” I told Tonia early the next morning while out walking The Poodle.  “In fact, I’m sure he’s quite relieved that it’s too late to get tickets since I’d have to go shopping for a gown,” I added.

“Speaking of gowns, I’m heading out later today to shop for a dress,” says Tonia.

“Oh, would you like company? I ask.

“Sure thing,” she says.

We made plans to meet at the local mall in early afternoon. As I walk The Poodle back home I’m thinking that my neighbor is going to be in one serious pickle. First, she is shopping for a ball down in this small town and secondly, she’s shopping for it on Thursday afternoon…literally a day and a few hours before the event. Nuts!

We meet later that afternoon at Dillard’s. I make my way to the second floor where the women’s dresses are located and in two minutes, as I scan the racks, I can see that there is not one thing that calls my name.  It’s a darned good thing I am not going to this ball,  I think to myself.  Mind you, I’ve been to this mall a total of three times since moving to this town just over two years ago. It’s barely twelve miles from my house so distance is not the issue. With the exception that it has the one and only Williams-Sonoma in town it’s just a thoroughly b-o-r-i-n-g place to shop. I’d rather floss my teeth than go shopping here. I’m positive that this makes Rocket-man’s heart sing.

I find my friend pouring over one of the racks of evening gowns. She’s decided that she doesn’t want anything floor-length since her husband won’t be wearing a tux for this event. Still, she realizes the pickings for cocktail length dresses are mighty slim. Honestly, I’m amazed that she seems so calm. I’d be absolutely frantic by now.

“What if you cannot find something?” I nonchalantly ask.

“Oh, I could get by with some older items in my closet,” she says.

It’s just about then that a sales associate asks if she can be of assistance. Tonia fills her in on what she’s shopping for and a few minutes later the associate returns with an armful of dresses. We “absolutely no” several of them and then talk over the remaining three that are potentials. Ten minutes after arriving Tonia retreats to the dressing room with dresses in hand to try on.

Amazingly she finds the dress, and it’s the one left in her size. I’m shocked frankly. Some people are lucky this way.   Oh me of little faith was sure that she’d come up empty-handed. Such a find, that fast,  would not have happened to me, even in a good shopping town.   I’m happy for her…and the dress looks absolutely terrific on her.  We shop for twenty minutes more before going our separate ways.  This doesn’t change my mind about shopping in this town, at least not yet.  And, as I drive home I think about my sis.  I’ve got shopping envy because I know she’s got a plethora of places to choose from.  I think about how we could spend hours–making nearly an entire day of it– shopping together in Northern Virginia and downtown, in Washington D.C. Half the time we don’t buy a thing as simple window shopping is an entertaining treat for us.

I need to get some sister-shopping time before the year is out.


Tonia got lucky with this find!

Lucky find! This is not Tonia but it’s the dress and it looks fabulous on her.

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