Shopping

Yesterday I went shopping. Now some women are natural shoppers because they are endowed with the shopping gene. But there are some women who have perfected shopping to an art form. I am not one of them. I have some of the traits: I can find a mall in a city I’ve never visited in less than 10 minutes. I never forget a shop. I know where which types of merchandise are located. I can remember the exact color of the dress I am trying to match. However, I do not have the trait of patience or the gift of endurance.

One amazing day in 1996 my friend (whose name I will not mention both to preserve her privacy and to save her from those who would demand her services) said to me that she was going to take me to buy a dress for my son’s wedding. (Fortunately, this happened just a few weeks before he was scheduled to get married.) Early in the morning we set out. She took me from one shop to the next. As I responded to what we saw, I think she was trying to figure out what I liked. I knew what I didn’t like. I didn’t like many of the colors of the dresses (I am very fussy about colors). When I found a nice color, I didn’t like the style. This dress was too open. This dress made me look like an old woman. This dress was too young. I drove her crazy. Hours later, she was still taking me from store to store. She didn’t give up. I thought I would drop from exhaustion. Then we found the dress. It was perfect. It was also the wrong color. She asked if they had it in another color. The answer was no. I thought it was a very good time to give up. She didn’t. On we went (she had driven; I had no choice.) We must have gone to another four stores when lo and behold, there was the dress. THE dress. It was the right style and in the right color. It was also on special and cost about 20% less than the exact dress in the other store. In my by then semi-comatose state, I thanked my friend, who I have crowned, shopper par excellence, for patience, endurance, and bravery above and beyond the call of duty.

And now here I am, several weeks from another wedding, trying to figure out how to find a dress in a country where people don’t get very dressed up for weddings or other occasions. I am always surprised (or as we said in the South, “tickled”) to see performers and weather people on TV here wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Last summer, we went to a classical concert at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center and one of those who took part in the very formal program was wearing jeans, a T-shirt, and sandals—which prompted my sister to ask the question, “What WOULD he get dressed up for?”

So this isn’t an easy place to shop for fancy clothes. But I decided to check out the local stores first. As I went from store to store, I noticed that all of the clothes were for people under the age of 30. I began to formulate in my mind what I would say to a salesperson if I were asked what I was looking for. I decided that I would say that I was looking for something appropriate for someone my age. Of course then I started to grin as I imagined a well-meaning salesperson bringing me a shroud. The concept didn’t work, though. I was still shown ruffled skirts and belly shirts. But this was just the first foray. As John Paul Jones’ wife said, “I have not yet begun to shop!”

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