With the exception of hunting for the occasional fuzzy blanket or CD, I will intentionally go out of my way to avoid retail stores. Whether my sisters are driving to a nearby city for a weekend or my friends want to go to the mall before seeing a movie, I will quickly find a way to get out of it by scheduling work, planning family dinner or having too much homework. After years of this behavior, no one can overlook the truth: I hate shopping.
Obviously my distaste for shopping – especially for clothing – did not spontaneously develop. As a child, I was cursed with premature growth spurts that left me easily a foot taller than many of my peers. Having gone to a school with a strict “to-the-knee” dress code, it was nearly impossible to find anything less than frumpy to wear to school. On top of that, my off-the-charts height for my age put me in the awkward gap in-between adult and children’s clothing. Since then, the announcement that “we’re going shopping” has always carried a negative connotation: one of empty hands, unopened wallets and wasted time.
My two younger sisters are quite the opposite of me. Rebecca, now a senior in high school, has always been artistic and at one point aspired to be a fashion designer. Sarah, a freshman in high school, is the queen of social interaction and takes pride in her style and ability to pull of heels. My family usually spends Thanksgivings with our extended family in Ohio, and on Black Friday my sisters and aunt wake up at 3 AM, throw on santa hats and flock to the mall. Each year, I will predictably roll out of bed around noon and smile as they sink into chairs, exhausted and overwhelmed by hours of standing in line. This year, however, I decided to challenge myself and do the very thing I vowed I would never do.
This year, I flew back to Virginia to spend Thanksgiving with my family at home instead of in Ohio. After enjoying a hearty meal with my parents and sisters, the inevitable question arose: “So when are we going to wake up to shop?” Always adamant on getting their way, my sisters explained how important the tradition of early morning shopping was and how Thanksgiving break just “wouldn’t be the same” without the Black Friday experience. My mother agreed to their plea and, in order to uphold their beloved Black Friday tradition, I too gave in to my sisters’ persistent nagging and agreed to tag along for a few hours.
At 7:30 AM the next morning, we sat down for a quick breakfast at Panera to formulate our plan of attack. My sisters ordered the same thing they have every year, a spinach and cheese soufflé, and proceeded to outline a list of stores we had to visit. When we pulled into store number one – Old Navy – the parking lot itself was enough to raise my blood pressure. When we got inside, the line ran all the way to the back of the store, winding between racks of sweaters with big, red signs obnoxiously screaming “50 percent off!” My sisters made a beeline for the dresses as I lumbered to the clearance and pajama section of the store where I thought I had the best chances of finding something adequate.
When trying on a t-shirt in the dressing room, my mother decided to bring in what seemed like dozens of pairs of pants for me to try on. As a tall female, pants are my worst nightmare. Yet by some miraculous feat I emerged from the dressing room an hour later with two pairs of pants to take home, and each at half price!
Thankfully, my mother had saved us a spot in line, thus avoiding the hour long wait that many customers faced. Over the next several hours, we went to three additional stores, where I distracted myself with the miscellaneous clearance items while my sisters continued to look for clothing. In the past, a whole day of shopping would rarely yield multiple pairs of clothes; yet that day, after only a little over an hour, I was able to walk away with two items. To me, this was a rare success that deserved celebration (thus, I sat out the rest of the morning and merely observed).
Despite the repeated dressing room visits, I survived the morning. After a mid-afternoon nap and a hot cup of tea, the emotional impact didn’t seem all that traumatic anymore. My sisters were eager to model their new clothes for us and retell all the funny moments of the morning. All in all, as much as it pains me to say it, I had fun shopping with my sisters and just might consider partaking again next year.