Friday, November 10, 2006


So, last year, I had this really cool idea.  What if I take one of those days like Columbus Day (which I get off, but not everyone does) and go to some massive Outlet Mall and do all my Christmas shopping before the rush? 

I tried it last year.  It was a remarkable success.  Although I didn't finish all my holiday shopping, I got a good lead on it and was able to complete the rest on the internet.

Totally forgot about it when Columbus Day rolled around this year.  But today was Veterans Day!

There's an outlet mall about an hour's drive from here.  Got myself a real cheap hotel room (their rate included dinner and breakfast) and drove out there last night.  Got a good night sleep, woke up bright and early, had my free eggs and fruit, and was at the outlet mall ten minutes before it opened.

Dude, I parked right next to the wheelchair spots.  That's how early I got there.

Had a list of names.  No real ideas for presents.  Just names.  And there were two things I wanted to buy for myself.  Just two.  (Last time, I got a little carried away on the shopping-for-myself front, so limits seemed in order.)  I needed to buy some sort of shoes that I could wear in the rain and still wear the ankle brace (flat boots that lace up) and maybe, if I'm really good, a dress.  I'm getting kinda tired of wearing my two "one-size slimmer" dresses to the theatre, and, besides, I need something with sleeves as winter is coming up.

My mother says I am a good gift-shopper.  I am not.  I never know what to get people.  The only strategy I can use is to walk into every store (even stores I think I have no interest in) and scope the place out -- in the hopes that some item that I see will trigger a thought with respect to some person on my list.  (Often, the item won't be the right gift, but it will make me think of the right gift -- which I'll then buy online, now that I know what I'm looking for.)  The one exception is that I don't walk into every clothing store -- unless I'm planning on getting someone a particular clothing item, I really don't do it.  (Ihave enough trouble buying clothes for myself -- way too much pressure to figure out someone else's size and style.)  But, even with clothing stores eliminated, walking through a massive outlet mall store by store is gonna take some time.

About eight hours, as it turned out.

Very slow going at the beginning.  The third store I walked into ("Cost Plus World Imports") did not trigger any thoughts for any names on my list -- but, it triggered thoughts for about six people I'd accidentally omitted from the list.  Great.  My list is expanding and I still haven't bought anything.

And the walk-into-nearly-every-store-and-let-it-just-wash-over-me thing did pay off in a couple of unexpected ways.  Pretty early on, I walked through a store selling quartz jewelry and rain sticks and various touchy feely items, and I saw something that would be really ideal for a friend of mine.  Except it was a rather heavy item.  I bought it, and the woman at the counter promised to hide it back there for me until I came by to pick it up later.

By about the third shoe warehouse store (apparently no shoe brands have their own stores now -- it's all those warehouse-type places), I scored a pair of low, flat, black, lace-up, guaranteed waterproof, Timberland boots.  They're ugly, but who am I to complain?  It isn't like I'll be wearing them with skirts or anything.  The damn things were reasonably priced and now the stupid ankle brace won't get soggy in the rain.

Almost halfway through the mall, I found some stuff for some folks at work.  By now, I'm balancing four bags of presents and one bag of Timberlands and I figure I'm never getting through this mall hauling all this stuff -- but, of course, I'm at the farthest possible point for hauling it all back to my car.  It's about now that I see the SmartCarte stand.  You know, like those rental luggage carts you see at airports.  This is a fairly slim cart (so it can get through narrow aisles) with a huge, industrial strength bag hanging off it.  For three bucks.  It irks me to pay three bucks for this, but I need it.  I can even go back and pick up those rocks from the touchy feely place...

Except with SmartCartes, you gotta rent the first one in line.  And the first one in line has a whole bunch of, like, rock salt (that's what it looks like, anyway) in the bottom of the bag.  No way I'm subjecting my delicate purchases to that.  I stand around for awhile hoping someone else will rent that first cart (leaving me the clean one behind it) but there are no takers.  I slog on.

I continue around the next corner into another store.  It's a shop that has all sorts of T-shirts, and sweatshirts emblazoned with logos from various colleges.  Now, my friend Peg went to UC Berkeley and her husband went to UCLA.  Thought I might get them some good-natured rivally type items. 

OK, Peg, if you're reading -- this store sucks.  For men, they've got college T-shirts, and college long-sleeve T-shirts, and college sweatshirts, and college fleece, and college sweatpants ...  And for women, they've got T-shirts that say, "I'm a virgin, but this is an old T-shirt."  Um, guys?  Women started going to college, like, years ago.

So I walk out of there feeling all discriminated against, and I walk right into ... another SmartCarte rack.  And there's some guy there with a free cart, just sorta staring at it.  I'm not clear on why this is (maybe he was trying to return his cart to the wrong end of the rack) -- but he's complaining that there's this loose cart off the rack and I'm all, "Hey, let me take that off your hands."  Woo-hoo!  Free cart!  I gently pile my purchases in the bag -- it's not even half-full -- and head on out with a spring in my step.

It was around here that, after several annoying false starts in warehouse-style clothing stores, I finally found a dress!  Off the freakin' rack.  (Size 8 -- no tummy panel!)  It's black and it's long-sleeved, and it fits, and I actually look kinda slim in it.  I admire my profile in the changing room mirror for a good long time, and buy it.  I also tried on ... in what I was certain was overconfidence ... a straight skirt.  (I can hear the gasps.)  I've been wearing flared skirts for, like, three years, due to the aforementioned big fat ass.  (Hell, long before the weight gain that led to the weight loss ... I been only wearing flare skirts.)  So, here's me trying on a straight skirt.  And it fits.  (OK, it was a size larger than the flared dress -- but there will be no raining on this parade.)  Very exciting.  Nice black wool straight skirt.  Can wear it to all sorts of theatre events.  (Just not in the rain.  I'm tellin' you -- them boots are ugly.)  Even bought a really cute jacket that I can wear with both skirt and dress.  Amazingly pleased with myself and my very first clothing purchase since I got on this diet, I move on.

After a lunch break (salad, of course -- nothing motivates you to keep to the diet like looking good), I got back on the gift bandwagon.  Ended up getting seven more presents (and only one was for someone I added to the list when I saw the item) and hauled my now heaping cart back over to the touchy feely store to pick up those rocks.  Left the mall at 6:00 -- exactly eight hours after I'd begun -- having acquired twelve gifts and the two things I wanted for me.

.... and, hopefully, I can avoid the mall scene until January.

1 comment:

helmswondermom said...

Sounds like a super-productive day!  And fun, too!