Thanksgiving-ing Part 2: Shopping


Thanksgiving 5ths of mashed potatoes 🙂

Random Observation/Comment #110: I’m not obsessed enough with fashion to stay on top of every seasonal style at all the release dates.  In fact, I have become very judgmental and close-minded towards those bizarre, new designs.  My shopping entries from Japan rant about this exact out-of-this-world weirdness that has gone beyond my taste and reason.  It leaves the line between metro- and homo- way too thin for my personal preference.  Over about 4 years of gathering data, I developed my own image of each ideal article of clothing.  For example, jeans should not be sewn onto another pair of jeans to make it look like you’re wearing one of them at ass crack length (when they come to America, you’ll know what I’m talking about).  I am not always looking at what people wear, but sometimes it’s hard not to notice disasters or commendables.  Whether it be a t-shirt, sweater, long sleeve, collared shirt, button up, button down, jeans, shorts, khakis, slacks, wool dress pants, vests, hoodies, etc, these external influences will not drastically shift my current fashion standards (I didn’t even start naming accessories or categories based on season, weather, or occasion).  I only wish my wallet was thick enough to support these urges.

My taste for clothes has changed over the years.  Actually, “change” is quite the understatement.  I went from second-hand, nerdy, and Asian stereotypical clothes with unkempt hair in middle school, to corduroys, middle-parted hair, and discount rack clothes in high school, to now – designer central.  I see the trend of increased price range over the years, but I consider all of these very sound investments.  The more days I wear the clothes, the less I am paying per day that it is used.  This means that if I wear the same exact same outfit two days in a row, the daily cost of my image on the second day would be less than the first because the extra day has been averaged into the overall payment.

It’s like buying a monthly unlimited subway ticket: You pay the price in full ahead of time, but every ride brings you closer to the threshold of getting a discount.  In other words, an $80 unlimited card’s first-time-use feels like the first ride costs the full $80.  However, the second time you use this card, the first and second ride sums to $80, but is averaged by the number of uses (in this case, $40 per ride on the second day).  If you use this 40 times a week, then you have broken even with the normal $2 ride.  Obviously, then, if you use it more, you will be spending less money per ride than you would if you bought it at a regular price.  If you don’t get it, I don’t know why you would even bother following my random train of thoughts.

Anyway, I’m not sure of the exact time this transition from Geek to Tool occurred, but it was somewhere within those three years of being a part of a fairly upper class family when I felt obligated to camouflage in their Giorgio Armani and Joseph Abboud ways.  Shopping with her began as a terribly boring and time-consuming chore, but I soon followed that old Chinese proverb (probably doesn’t exist, so don’t try looking it up) “it’s hard not to catch a cold if you’re always running outside naked.”  I was addicted by association, and my acute sense of categorization gave me these super powers.  I had obtained The Eye.  It’s like I was touched by a gay guy and then completely left alone with the sole purpose of pleasing girls (for the record, I was not touched by any man).  Some say it is a gift, but I consider it a curse.  Even when she left, it was already too late – the bug had bitten me and my ways had changed.

As Black Friday rolled around this year, I felt more judgmental than ever.  Not only was my spending-money dramatically decreased from the poor economic times, but I also developed a fairly respectable wardrobe that didn’t really need much addition.  I looked for the essentials with this urge to splurge my savings, but surprisingly, I left empty-handed.  Nothing particularly caught my eye, and I didn’t spend hours just browsing.  There must have been a solar eclipse or aligned planets because this was a phenomenon.  The day I came back from my Thanksgiving trip, I went to Macy’s in the city for another test of will.  Mind you, I was already breaking one of the shopping codes – never shop alone.  But for the name of science and experimentation, I made the sacrifice.

I spent two hours browsing and scanning, and yet, I still had that itch that needed scratching.  There were clothes that fit my taste, but the accountant in my head (mom’s conscience) held on to that plastic firmly.  I left with a very nice sweater-vest, but I considered it one of the most disappointing shopping experiences this year.  On my way to meet my friends, I passed by Ben Sherman in Soho.  I walked in for a quick glance, but left an hour later with a sports jacket.  I would have stayed longer, but the consistent buzz in my pocket reminded me of my prearranged plans.  If I stayed any longer, I think I would need to start selling my organs (not really, but the literary effect adds a flare, doesn’t it?).

So what do my experiments say about this season of shopping?  I had unconsciously realized the value of saving this holiday before actually spending any money (which is a good thing), but more importantly, I weighed my needs and obsessions much more maturely.  I am in no way a minimalist, but I have saturated myself with enough stuff to consume less frequently.

It makes me wonder how much we would save if people just stayed content with their old and still usable stuff.  Sure, the golden arrow of consumption will fail and our economy will perish, but – wait, never mind.  American people: keep buying new stuff every few months because of new features.  Engineers: keep building things that are only durable to a certain extent.  Advertisers: keep feeding us the bullshit that we love to hear because it makes us less guilty.  Corporate: keep getting rich so the money trickles down to us.  Government: keep flushing our money down the toilet.  Everyone else around the world: keep hating us for being the annoying, arrogant, and smug superhero.  Happy Holidays J.

~See Lemons Consume