No matter how locked up we are, no matter how screen-confined we’ve become, no matter that we have nowhere to dress for, a motto for my consumer generation could be:
“Have internet, and credit card, will shop.”
I’m not a big clothes horse or shopper anymore. I was young enough once, and poor enough once, that a trip to the mall for new clothes for a summer wedding season or dinner event was an outing to be anticipated: browsing and trying on, lunching with a friend, discussing the season’s latest colours. The thrill of the hunt, finding the perfect shoes to match, the happy exhaustion at the end of the day, unpacking bags, saving receipts (maybe), admiring the shiny new outfits, the earrings, maybe a new record(or cassette tape, or CD) or a fancy Body Shop lotion. Some fudge, or caramel popcorn picked up to share with my homebound husband, (who had given up accompanying me on these marathon shopping days very early in our marriage. Sigh. He was a great bag carrier. Not so great a shopping buddy, though. “It looks fine. Get it. What? Back to that first store again? It’s at the other end of the mall!”)
Just describing this former activity – shopping all day in a mall – sounds foreign to me now, and not just because I’m in the middle of pandemic lockdown. I am old enough that such a day would not be an activity of choice regardless. Maybe once in awhile, when I need new runners, or jeans, or a dress for a family wedding. But certainly not often, and not for a marathon day. I honestly don’t wear most of my current wardrobe anyway, pandemic times or not. Retirement has been quite freeing in allowing me to be more of myself, meaning I wear what I want, not what any outside activity dictates. Jeans and runners, even out to dinner, (I think, my memory is fading about going out to dinner!)
So what possesses me to – once in awhile – to click on the internet shopping ads of those beautiful models and jewelry? Those colours, those styles! To browse and daydream and even occasionally to go to the full website and even put something in an online cart? To almost imagine that swirly dress or comfy sweatshirt arriving in my oversize mail dropoff box via Canada post parcel key in my little mailslot? To go get my credit card. To fill out the shipping info. So, here’s how it goes:
“Jess, do you like this sweater? What colour?” I show the ad on my phone to my daughter-in-law, who I do get to see during pandemic, as we live nearby and babysit for them sometimes, answers that yes, it’s very nice, and yes, all the colours are nice, which do I like? It’s early fall, time to think about sweaters.
And later, at home, surfing online and checking out the “10 best diets” or “new TV series ratings” or “latest archaeology in Britain”, when that same ad pops up again, I click. I pick a colour, wine. Oh, no delivery charge if you order two sweaters. I pick a pretty blue for Jess, to go with her blond hair. She’s my size. I fill out the shipping info. Click. Done. Ping, email notification, order received! How thrilling. A few days later, ping, email, tracking information for your parcel, madame. A week or two passes. Maybe the sweater will be a nice Christmas present for Jess.
Here’s where I start to realize that um, maybe I was a bit foolish to order from an unknown company online. Obviously, (now), my sweaters, despite sounding like coming from a Canadian company on their website – and maybe they are a Canadian company – it’s obvious now that they ship from China. How do I know? I had to pick English as language on the first tracking notice, Chinese being the default. Then, on the Canada Post tracker (after months of waiting, after the charge had already come off my credit card, just when I was going to call them to find out how to cancel it), ping, my parcel is received… in Richmond, British Columbia. Hmmm. I live in Aylmer, Quebec. Next notice, ping, (weeks later), processing, and customs, in Mississauga, Ontario (Toronto, basically). Ping, (weeks later – this is becoming kind of fun to watch, this tracking on Canada Post), Montreal. Now, Aylmer is across the street from Ottawa. To send from Toronto to Montreal bypasses Ottawa. Ok, where next? Haha – Ottawa! Then finally (months and weeks have now passed), received in Aylmer, Quebec!
It’s late January. Maybe today I’ll get that key in my mailslot to open the oversize package box in our condo mailroom. Oh Joy! And very late Merry Christmas to you, Jess! At least it’s still winter – we should get to wear the sweaters for a little while more this season. I hope the colours aren’t out of style by now. 😉