Tuesday, December 13, 2011

No One Told Me about This Place

Take away my gay card now. I hate shopping. There, I said it. Walking down aisles, browsing around, trying on clothes, looking at this item, looking at that, not knowing what you’re looking for … uucchhhh.

When I go into a store, I know exactly what I want, I find it, I buy it, and I leave. This has driven many of my friends crazy. They like to browse and look around. If I don’t see what I came to buy immediately, I ask for help. If they don’t have it, I leave. And, I have been known to leave my friends in stores.

Wait a minute! I get to keep my gay card. Straight men never ask where anything is or for directions. I always ask for help in stores and directions when I'm driving. I don’t have time to get lost.

A few weeks ago, I needed to get a purple sweater for Spirit Day. I walked up the street to Filene’s Basement, back to the men’s department, found a purple and a green sweater, paid for them, and returned to my office. Six blocks round-trip with a purchase in between took me twenty minutes. One of my co-workers could not get over it. She didn’t even realize I had left.

I don’t mind going to discount or grocery stores to buy what I need. I just do it as quickly as possible. I can grocery shop for a month’s worth of food in thirty minutes and redeem my coupons in the process. I go to Target and Walmart at least once a week. I go in, get what I need and leave.

But, don’t ever take me to a mall. Oh my God! I am convinced that if you are evil in this life, you spend the afterlife in a mall. I don’t know what is worse, the parking, the crowds, or the stores that sell nothing I want. Take Spencer Gifts. How many black light posters of Kiss do I need? Can you tell it has been thirty years since I went to a mall?

With the exception of the sweaters, I usually buy my clothes online, especially shoes since I wear a size 14, and no one carries that.

I refuse to walk into a shoe store. I don’t know how many times I heard, “We have up to size 13, and they fit large?”

My answer, “If they fit large, they would be size 14.”

My favorite was at Virginia Beach in the early 1980s, at one of those shops that sells flip flops (now they call them thongs and wear them with formals). The clerk looked at me as if I were Lurch and said, “We keep the larger sizes upstairs.”

My question, “Aren’t you afraid the first floor ceiling won’t support the weight of all those heavy shoes?”

Speaking of Lurch. When I was fourteen, I took a four-week tennis course in the summer, and the instructor, who couldn’t stand me, kept calling me Lurch. I told him if he didn’t stop, I would sign up for four more weeks. He didn’t. I did. And, he never taught tennis again.

Back to shopping. I do admit I love discount stores. K-Mart, Target, Walmart, you name it. I may shop quickly, but I do it with a smile. Bargains always get my juices going.

Want to seduce me? Show me a price tag that says “50% off.”

My mother worked in a high-end women’s clothing store called La Vogue, but she loved cheap stores. In Newport News when I was growing up, there was store called King’s. I don’t know if they had King’s where you live, but let me try to describe it for you.

Have you ever been to GC Murphy, Co.? Or a K-Mart in a really bad neighborhood? Imagine a store that makes those look like a boutique. Even the parking lot was full of potholes. My father used to say that they should open an alignment shop next to King’s.

I still remember piling into Mother’s red Corvair and going to King’s. I loved King’s. They also had a grocery store attached to King’s that was separated by those plastic strips you see in walk-in freezers. The grocery department was so trashy, the meat department only sold road kill.

I’m not kidding. She bought a chicken there that to this day I swear was a fat pigeon.

Mother once bought me shirts from King’s. One was yellow with white bands on the collar and sleeves. After one washing, the bands fell off; after two, we couldn’t find the shirt in the washing machine.

Too bad. I really liked that shirt.

Anyway, back to shopping. As you know, I have yet to landscape. However, even I was getting tired of my home looking as if someone parked a camper in an empty lot, so I took a trip to Walmart to look around their garden department – in December!

Their garden department wasn’t even open. I then drove over to Lowe’s, but all they had were Christmas trees. You can’t plant those.

On my way to the Metro every morning, I pass by a place called Behnke Nursery. They always have a sign out front that says what kind of greenery they have on sale. I know absolutely nothing about plants, except that one should trim his bush regularly but never remove it completely because a little grass on the playing field is a good thing.

I decided to drive down to Beltsville (yes, we do have a city called Beltsville – it’s near the Beltway of course). As usual with any of my shopping adventures, I knew what I wanted, and I was determined to get it in as little time as possible. I wanted six planters, and six bushes to go in them to surround my deck.

I grabbed a cart, walked in, and I immediately asked where the hard plastic pots for planting outside were. A friend told me not to get clay pots because they crack, and crack is whack. The clerk showed me where to look.

Then, I saw it: “All pots, 50% off.” I thought I was going to have to change my underwear. I looked at all the pots. I browsed. I pondered. I laid them out as I envisioned they would be around my deck. I walked around them at different angles. I turned my head and back again to see what kind of first impression they would have. And being Jewish, I turned them over to see where they came from (which is why flying saucers never land on Jewish lawns).

What the fuck was I doing? Was I shopping? Was I enjoying myself? Was I taking my time?

I was!

Why didn’t anyone tell me about this place? If I had known what fun this would be, I would have landscaped something twenty-five years ago!

After picking out my pots, I asked for help from a young fellow who looked like Louie Anderson. He showed me the bushes. And there it was again, “All bushes 50% off.” I needed a cigarette!

He helped me pick out six bushes. Then he showed me the right kind of potting soil, and he even helped me pick out the right kind of crushed marble to line the area between my walkway and my house.

I was spent.

I paid for everything, loaded up my car and drove home with a smile on my face and the inability to see out the passenger side or rear of the station wagon.

But, don’t get too excited. I managed to complete the entire shopping trip and unload the car in ninety minutes. Hey, it’s a start.

The following weekend, I returned to Behnke Nursery and bought six more bushes to plant around the house, and I was home in an hour. I just cannot resist a 50% off sale, and I now know I do like to shop – in garden stores or landscaping shops or nurseries or whatever they call them!

My neighbors love my landscape design – or they just love the fact that I finally did something. Who cares? I’m happy.

I cannot wait until spring, when I can buy flowers or bulbs or annuals or – I have no clue, but I'll learn. I hope Louie Anderson is still working at Behnke Nursery then.

If you trim your bush, follow me, get on my email list, join me, tell your friends.

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