Shopping Around

This time I am going to shop around.

I met my last lover at a party. I had had too much to drink. We had a brief and tempestuous affair, which ended horribly after three months. I told myself then, I will never make that mistake again.

Linda was my first lover. She was tall and slender. Her hair fell straight along her back, ending where the spine curves inward to form the base of a smooth concave pocket. Her eyes were dark brown, her skin pale. I remember that her teeth were remarkably uniform, as if they were artificial. I did not know real teeth could be so straight.

I’ve had dozens and dozens of lovers. I remember only a few. I’ve probably embellished them beyond all reality. My memories may be fictions.

Tanya had short hair. She dyed it henna. Her hair was bell-shaped and hugged her head like a snug wig. She used a product that made her legs as smooth as those of a store-front mannequin. She said it was excruciatingly painful and expensive to get her legs that way, but that she felt that it was worth it.

Maggie wore clothing from a local Middle-Eastern bazaar: silks and flowing scarves and Jinn pants. She wore pink foundation and red blush. Her preferred products were: Noxema, Clairol, Seabreeze, Neat, Max Factor.

Brenda was slightly overweight, but disguised it well with bulky sweaters and skirts. She worked primarily in odours: L’air du Temps, Channel and Night Musk. Her shoes were always of the highest quality, even those that she wore when taking the garbage to the curb.

Rachel liked to wear hats. She bought most of her clothing through mail order catalogues. Her favorite colours were hunter green, teal, and royal blue. She said she was a Winter. I met her during her black and white phase. She also had a brief leather phase, during which she wore tight black pants and cowhide vests. She liked to wear earrings that dangle to the shoulder.

All of these women were bad for me. I remember their clothing and the way that they smelled, and specific physical details: the curve of a leg, the flatness of a stomach, the darkness of eyes. What I’m not going to tell you about is the grief and the frustration.

I’ve tried for years to block it out of my mind.

Linda was never happy with anything I ever did. She hated the way I cut my steak, and was determined to reform me.

Tanya ate only vegetables and said it is morally wrong to kill cows. I said I only killed them to stop them. I said, Cows are the most vicious and hateful creatures alive because they prey exclusively on helpless vegetables. I told her that I was thinking about going after other vegetable haters too.

She left me.

Maggie was a singer and sexually voracious. She was also insane. She told me that Janice Joplin once came to her house and complimented her on her musical talent.

Brenda tried to make me feel guilty about every bad thing in the world. She told me I never really loved her, which was true, and that I was leaving her only because she wasn’t thin like a supermodel, which wasn’t. She held me personally responsible for the “chauvinism and cruelty of my gender.”

Rachel was unfaithful and ran off with a neighbour of mine. That was during her Spiegel earth-tone phase.

Relationships are so difficult. It’s woeful. But this time I’m going to shop around.

***

What I have learned about shopping

Do your research

Find out where the product comes from. Was it produced by a respectable corporation? Or by one that is exploitative? Check into warranties, and see what kind of experiences other people have had with this product. You may discover things of great importance.

Look under the hood

We’re not talking just about cars here. Whatever it is, see how it’s made and how it works. Have a professional come along and help. Kick the tires.

Ask about trial periods

If possible, take the product home for a few days for a trial run. Be explicit that this in no way implies a commitment. There ought to be no obligation to buy.

Compare and save

Don’t take the first thing that comes along, no matter how shiny and fancy it looks. And don’t enter into a bargain until you know all of the facts! Often a salesperson will only tell you what he or she thinks you want to hear. Don’t trust these people.

Take your time. Get the best deal you can.

Get everything in writing

Remember the expression: a verbal agreement is worth the paper it’s written on.

If you do purchase, keep the receipts and accompanying documents in a safe place

You might want to make an exchange at a later date. Perhaps get a refund. You are not personally responsible for defective goods, but be careful: there are no user serviceable parts. It’s also wise to keep the packaging. Often, with the excitement that accompanies a new item, we fail to consider the possibility that we may grow tired of it later. Or it may not work the way we had thought it would. If you have discarded the packaging, you are stuck with your selection.

Consider the costs

Ask yourself, Do I really need this product? Isn’t the aggravation more than I want? And the responsibility?

In today’s throw-away society, most products break down after only a few years. Then you’re stuck with a useless product and the costs of getting rid of it.

Be honest. Why are you considering this purchase? A lot is at stake. Do you think you could live without it?

You’d be surprised. Many people nowadays are.

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