Friday, March 5, 2010

If We Were Dating...

Shopping is a social experience.  Shopping with friends conveys trust in their opinions and tastes.  The shared experience is relived with every wear of the sparkling new object.  It's not a coincidence that most of my clothes have a story.  "I bought this one in New York with so-and-so, this one in Chicago with whats-her-name...."  I remember the hours spent shopping with my mom as she taught me about fit and quality and proportions.  My mom doesn't cook, but she can shop.  Those days and hours together connected us.

Shopping also connects us with our community members.  Casual conversations and run-ins with acquaintances often occur at the mall, in the dressing room, over lunch or coffee.  The other day, I bought a bottle of Cuevo Gold tequila at the liquior store near my house.  Necessary?  Probably not.  My friend, Allison, requested it for margaritas at our Supper Club tonight.  The man at the register said, "If we were dating, this is what you'd be drinking...." as he held out a sample bottle of Hornitos tequila. 
I looked at his long white hair and smiled.  "Really?  It's that good, huh?" I replied.  "If you don't like it, bring it back here and I'll finish it off for you."  "It's a deal!"  That small purchase filled my day with a funny story and a feeling of connection to my neighborhood.  But even that man defined his identity with a specific brand or product.  What's good enough?  High class enough to represent me and my tastes?  We often tie our worth to the worth of the products we consume.  He may not have much, but he'll be drinking the best tequila tonight!  He'll make sure all of his loved ones experience that luxury, too.  I'll probably see that old guy again before my next party or beloved bottle of Baileys.  Oftentimes, to refuse to buy is to refuse to connect.

Another example... a student of mine, Zoe, asked me to buy girl scout cookies last week.  I instinctively said yes.  I knew that my purchase was a gift to her, even though I was the one receiving the (blessedly delicious) cookies.  The box even declares, "Courage, Confidence, Character!" as though my purchase helps cultivate these qualities in little girls like Zoe.  It practically screams, "Get your checkbook right now, you attempt of a role-model!  It's the least you can do!"  Zoe's little voice, her big eyes peeking out of her long hair and her buding seeds of confidence needed my money and my affirmation.  Are you believing me yet?  Of course I wanted girl scout cookies, but mostly I wanted to support my student.  Buying is a social experience.

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