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I do not understand the appeal of Online shopping. In theory, it saves you time and ensures that you do not have to stand in line for hours, sweating like a pig beneath your down-filled coat, boots, mittens. By the time you make your in-store purchase, you and the other hundreds of shoppers will smell like the barnyard pen at the livestock market. The only distinction will be that some of the shoppers will have doused themselves in perfume before they got to the lineup, bent on guaranteeing that they will outstink the unruly masses, but in what they think is a good way. It isn’t.

But shopping via your computer simply transfers the pain and suffering to the confines of your own home…you may not stink as much, but your blood pressure level will skyrocket and the other members of your family, pets included, will quake in their boots when you start screaming and bitch-slapping your computer in frustration. Talk about Domestic Abuse — shopping online is the ultimate form of it! And make no mistake: Your computer and all of its little ‘shopping carts’ WILL abuse you and your credit card.

Gill has long been a proponent of shopping online. Amazon is her BFF and has been since she had to procure textbooks online that were unavailable in bookstores in the Scottish city where she lived. To hear her tell it, bookshops haven’t improved there since the university was established several hundred years ago. Possibly the invading hoards didn’t mind, but students nowadays require more. With this background in mind, she informed me recently of two amazing bits of info. One, she planned to replace what she calls her winter ‘drug dealer coat’. She dubbed it this since it looks sketchy enough to contain something illicit (possibly hot watches but more likely, small bags of things to smoke), a portable ‘storefront’ at the ready. That’s what happens when you watch too many episodes of Weeds and Breaking Bad, etc. The second bit of info was that she had found, if not an exact replica, a close enough substitute for it at a store online.

For most people, finding a suitable coat isn’t a large problem. For Gill, it is. As you readers will recall, Gill dislikes change. She also dislikes what passes for ‘fashion’. For her to make the decision to replace her old coat was earth shattering. The fact that she found one that looked enough like the old coat to merit a second glance was The Christmas Miracle. What I could not comprehend was WHY she wanted a duplicate. Picture, if you will, a frumpy grey shroud-like garment, the fuzzy wool rubbed bare in spots (not unlike a favourite childhood stuffed bear) with an overlay of brown dirt. It features a ripped pocket and the one remaining button is hanging by a thread. Gill’s unnatural attachment to this coat reminds me of dads who cling to their old school football jerseys, refusing to give them up unless they’re ripped from their (to quote Charlton Heston) cold, dead hands. In this case, Gill isn’t dead but the coat looks to be. Never mind. She loves it — and insists upon wearing it when she walks through the neighbourhood on her daily holiday constitutionals. I’m surprised, given her odd and suspicious looking demeanor, that someone hasn’t called the cops to follow her. She is the first to admit it LOOKS like she could be selling drugs from the coat…but I think she takes a certain perverse glee in confounding the neighbours. The parents are  unsettled because Gill looks like a hobo who has wandered into the area by mistake and is bringing down the tone. The kids are disappointed because she actually ISN’T selling the drugs they’re looking to buy.

She found this remarkable new coat online.

“Are you sure it’s wise to buy a coat online?” I asked with trepidation.

“Of course, Ma. It’s my size and everything. I’m excited that I found it.”

“Pardon me, but I didn’t realize the Drug Dealer coat HAD a size. I assumed that it was a one-size-fits nobody kind of deal.”

“Not funny, Ma. I love that coat. I am worried that I won’t be able to touch the fabric to see if it’s soft before I buy it, though.”

“Yes, I realize you’re a tactile person. The old coat appears to have been touched a few too many times. I think you took out your OCD tendencies on that coat, rubbing it raw. If it were fur, I’d suggest the person who killed the animal did it a favour, releasing it from its battle with the mange. But I don’t think wool gets mange. Well, I’m happy for you, dear. Oh! Does that mean I get to throw out the old coat??!!!”

“Ma, step away from the coat! You are NEVER to throw that coat out. It belongs to the ages. Do you understand?”

“It certainly smells of the ages. I know, I know…Charlton Heston and the whole cold hands thing. Sigh. One small question, though. Am I allowed to have The Thing fumigated?”

“Fumigated? Are you mad, woman?…What is that noise, Ma?”

“Oh, nothing. ” I gesture to the team of cleaners in the next room to turn off their spray machines. What Gill doesn’t know about the fumigation process won’t hurt me. I hope.