The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Beauty

July 22, 2015 | by

From a 1960s Avon ad.

There are certain unpleasant life experiences that are not palliated by the fact that you know that they’re meaningless. I am speaking here of something specific: the particular horror of being pressured into spending money on things you know you do not want.

When I was seventeen and had to go to the prom with a senior in my homeroom, my mom and I went to Nordstrom so I could buy some simple makeup. Neither of us wore any. My mom entrusted me with a credit card, went to do something else, and came back an hour later to find me miserable, clown-like, clutching a tiny bag and having spent a hundred dollars, then an astronomical sum. And somehow it was very hard to explain to her that the saleswoman had had a wooden leg, and I’d felt unable to deny her anything. I used the lipstick for six years, to justify it, even though the color looked very strange, and it was quickly caked with sand and grit. Read More »

Expertise

July 1, 2015 | by

Boots

An advertisement in Moving Picture World, March 1919.

There are folks out there who enjoy shopping for hiking shoes. These people love researching the flexibility of EVA midsoles, fingering crampon fittings, debating the merits of lug patterns and heel brakes with knowledgeable salespeople. When they walk on in-store inclines, they imagine future expeditions; when they discuss the durability of nubuck versus split grain, it is because they are investing in the future.

For the rest of us, it’s a minor ordeal. Unlike with other sorts of clothes, athletic gear doesn’t inspire visions of who we could be; it shows us clearly who we are not. Every aspect of the process illuminates new facets of ignorance. Read More »

Good Digestion

May 29, 2015 | by

Hieronymus_Bosch_-_The_Seven_Deadly_Sins_(detail)_-_WGA2503

Hieronymus Bosch, The Seven Deadly Sins (detail), ca. 1500.

It’s impossible to be completely happy when you have no appetite—or when you’re sated. People talk about the contentment that comes with a full belly, but to the food lover, this seems paradoxical. After all, if you are of the sort who lives to eat, rather than the other way around, being full means that, for the moment, you don’t have much to live for.

I’ve quoted Iris Murdoch on the subject before, but the quote bears repeating: “Every meal should be a treat and one ought to bless every day which brings with it a good digestion and the precious gift of hunger.” Read More »

The Symbol of Hospitality

May 26, 2015 | by

Ferenczy,_Karoly_-_Pineapple_(1911)

Károly Ferenczy, Pineapple, 1911.

Yesterday, I was walking down the street, enjoying the warm weather and the city’s relative emptiness—a lot of people had gone away for the long weekend—when I saw someone who looked familiar, an old man on a bench outside an empty asphalt playground. How did I know that face?

It came to me all of a sudden. It was the old man I had seen some months ago in the supermarket, yelling at the cashier and accusing all and sundry of elder abuse. Back then, his face had been contorted with impotent rage and the terror of senility.

Now, as I stared at him, arrested, he met my eyes. “Can I have a few pennies?” he said. “A few pennies for a pineapple?” Read More »

Wack Job

May 4, 2015 | by

Ronai_dottedlady

József Rippl-Rónai, Woman Dressed in Polka Dot Dress (detail), 1889.

Nothing can make you feel older than thrift shopping. As you walk the aisles, thumbing through the racks, young you keeps up a running monologue: That 1940s square-dancing outfit is cool! Look at those Polynesian-print slacks and the matching vest! You’d look like an awesome fifties-pulp lesbian cover model if you wore this shirt and tie! Sure, that leather dress is totally unflattering—but it’s neat! And five dollars! Have you ever worn your other five fake-fur chubbies? No, but maybe now’s the time! 

And time was, you’d have bought all these things. Each would have symbolized a you you might have been, or could have been for a day—an identity you could don or pretend you’d don. At the very least, the cheap thrill of the moment would have overridden any other concern. Who cared if your closet looked like it belonged to a hoarder pied piper? Anything was good enough for class, or for the existence of a creatively inclined, sensitive young person in the urban wild. Read More »

Elder Abuse

March 11, 2015 | by

Orłowski_Old_man_in_a_fur_hat

Alexander Orlowski, Head of an Old Man in a Fur Hat, 1815.

For something that inhibits creativity, depression inspires a lot of metaphors. You can read about it likened to a vine-covered house or a black dog or a dreary balloon, or see it portrayed as a lowering cloud. Maybe because it’s a state so characterized by its lacks—of joy, of fun, of perspective, of energy, of hope, of self-love, of memory—people are eager to imbue it with substance.

When it hit me—in the abrupt way it does when you’ve forgotten to take your meds—I was on the subway. It was like being deluged by a tidal wave—no, make that a wave of slush from a passing taxi. The drear was powerful and immediately exhausting. I told myself it would pass. We all have our tricks. When things aren’t too bad, I can sometimes get myself to the dog run. The best thing to do is to help someone else, although this is easier to say when you’re not in the grip of it. When the prospect of dressing or bathing seems beyond contemplation, when keeping yourself from others seems like one of the few good things you can manage, the energy required in engaging with others is daunting. Read More »