Somewhere in middle school I missed the class on how to dress in clothes that look good. This omission left me incapable of distinguishing between outfits appropriate for not getting teased in 7th grade and those appropriate for repainting a doublewide outside Wal-Mart in 1987.
Conveniently, I also missed the lessons on how to be self-conscious, thus preserving my love of brightly-colored stretch leggings and extra-large t-shirts from the science fair. That’s how I reached the decision to adjust for cold weather by wearing red stirrup pants with my new lavender dress.
This was the day my balloon of blissful ignorance began to leak and I begged my mom to buy me a pair of jeans. This was also the same classmate who, a few weeks later, took advantage of our napping substitute teacher to wrap masking tape around my eyes and drag me across the floor by my braided hair, so I got those lessons in self-consciousness after all.
Anyway, my continuing lack of fashion standards makes clothes shopping an ordeal that I only attempt when all of my existing garments develop enough holes to be used for draining pasta. Paralyzing anxiety about the term “business casual” couples with my ingrained unwillingness to spend more than $20 on anything short of a life-saving appendectomy.
On top of that, I primarily shop at discount superstores that require you to navigate around the 87% of the options that proclaim either “Hootchie Mama” or “Thanks for coming to my retirement party.”
I am also not big on shopping when it comes to gifts for non-relatives approximately my own age. I have no ability to determine maturity-level-appropriate presents. I also can’t use the “buy something you would like to receive” metric anymore because I would just get everyone Play-Doh, and anyone who has invited me to a previous birthday party already has some.
(Two-hour intermission while I browse the Play-Doh website. Did you know there’s one with confetti in it? You can also buy it by the pound, or teach children to inject it into dogs.)
Ultimately, the only shopping I really enjoy is at the grocery store. While I’m there I can imagine myself as the kind of person who prepares mouthwatering delicacies instead of just smearing things with peanut butter.
That’s how I end up with a pantry full of orphaned crab meat and saffron and a kitchen spattered in Cement of Béchamel Sauce.
The resulting failure-related reversion to a ramen-based diet is also why I keep having to go shopping for pants.