Monday, October 25, 2010

Cheap Retail Therapy

I think we can all agree that life can be very stressful. People have many different ways of coping with these daily stresses. Some have hot stones laid along their spines while they drool peacefully into a massage table. Others put on tiny shorts and determined expressions and run, explaining that their endorphins then pump more happy juice into their brains. I am not into rocks—neither heated nor cool. And I only run if someone, waving a machete, is chasing me. Or upon realization that if I am not prompt at the buffet, there will be no cake left. I have another method of alleviating stress and many of you share my approach: Retail therapy.

Allow me to explain. I will never be seen floating into an exclusive department store to thoughtfully finger a wisp of a scarf that costs a week’s salary. Nor will I be found in a trendy boutique choosing a handbag whose leather comes from the pampered tuchas of some exotic bovine. I am talking The "Dollar Store" approach here, folks…or the Christmas Tree Shop. And, if I’m feeling flush, I may hit Target where I’ve been known to cap off the day by visiting the cosmetics aisle and bringing home the one single item that has all the potential in the universe to completely change any woman’s life for the better for a very reasonable sum: the perfect lipstick (which, and this will surprise none who know me, I have yet to find).

But let’s return to my giddy orbit of cheap. A really good dollar store is a gift from the heavens. Where else can one load up a cart and achieve that heady retail rush for less than a twenty? And I’m talking things we all really need: a roll of twist ties for securing vines to a trellis, a pack of seasonally themed post-its or even some movie candy--the real deal-- in little boxes to be kept at the ready in case I suddenly find myself at a matinee. Or, how about a six pack of hand cleaner that may or may not contain lead and arsenic but for a buck, I’ll risk it. This is what I call stress relief, people.

From there, on to the Christmas Tree Shop to stock up on planters that look as if they were chiseled from the marble used to build the Coliseum but weigh only 12 ounces each. Or a clever snow globe that will display a family snapshot in its’ wavy surface. This is paradise, don’t you agree? And, allow me to remind you how little cash actually leaves my wallet. I’ll bet at least a few of you are either salivating slightly or need a cigarette about now. I told you this was good.

If  I’m still not properly soothed, it’s onward to Target, the final stop on the cheap train. Here I will buy a charming card to mail to my son in college. Or I might choose a pair of flip flops adorned with shiny wooden beads. Who knows--I might even find a set of melamine plates with a lovely autumn motif!  Big spender, right? Not even close.

But the best is yet to come. After I’ve pranced through house wares and pirouetted amongst the picture frames, it’s on to the mecca of cheap thrills---the lipstick aisle. Coral, mauve or nude? Frosted or matte? Plastic case or metal? Here, amidst the glosses and balms, resides the holy grail of stress relief. I always hope that I will choose one that will make me see Christina Applegate (or, at the very least, her grey-haired counterpart) smiling at me from the mirror. Unfortunately, more often that not, it’s someone who more closely resembles Kirk Douglas than Miss Applegate staring back, albeit with a luscious pout. Who cares?? I have achieved cheap retail nirvana!!!

So, life is simple.  I hardly ever peruse the expensive catalogs that make their way daily to my mailbox. I don’t need that Swarovski owl for my collection or imported Scottish cashmere to drape around my shoulders come winter’s chill. Give me some cheap plastic junk and a lipstick. After all, I am Kirk Douglas.

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