“The quickest way to know a woman is to go shopping with her.” Marcelene Cox, Ladies Home Journal, 1950.

My friend Banana Jo gave me a tiny calendar a few years ago with this quote from Marcelene. I don’t know who Marcelene is, and believe me, I have been searching. I think she was “just a writer”. Oh, if only …. I have searched for a photo of her, to no avail. In any event, it is safe to say that a) Marcelene knew what she was talking about and b) fifty-nine years later, her words still ring true.

Banana Jo and I used to love to go shopping together. Her successor, Mrs. O’Leary and I excelled at the sport. Maria-the-Dentist knew all the chic shops in Sao Paolo. Then there is Ms. Dela and Martita of my Mexico days who, fueled with a few margaritas, could put any serious shopper to shame. KT elevates it to high art, even in the lowest of places.

Then there is Wee Lass. Being Scottish, she claims she is tight as a tick, a muller in the extreme. I have resorted to telling her that I am going to buy a certain item if she doesn’t – this usually does the trick and then we all congratulate her for the purchase.

My aunt, Tia Susu, a Navy Wife, though, is the Queen of the Shopping Cart. She learned from my grandmother.

Recently, Princess Ai Lin, Bea Long, and I headed over to Ikea. Misery loves company. I only needed paper napkins. Since traveling to Ikea is such a godless trek, we each had a list. Mine was very short. Bea Long had just returned from a weekend jaunt to Bangladesh with Princess Z, a citizen of the country. Bea had gone to Bangladesh with a certain authorized amount in her pocket plus a little extra squirreled away.

Bea explained, on the ride over, how she was forced to shop. Princess Z would drop her at a shop and tell her she had 15 minutes to make her purchases, no faffing about. Princess Z is something of a militant shopper: focused, driven, and well aware of her limits. She had a year to hone her skills when every member of her extended family visited her in Shanghai and she was constantly challenged to find new venues. She can tell you where to find the cheapest eyeglasses ground to order, handbeaded napkin rings, Tibetan rugs, and gift wrapping supplies in Shanghai. Get her in her home town and she is a dervish.

“So what you are saying, then, is that you are a muller .” Ai Lin stated.

“A muller?” Bea asked.

“Yeah, a person who mulls over a purchase awhile before buying it.” I said.

“Yes, that’s right.” Bea replied.

“The problem with being too much of a muller,” I said, “is that some key purchases can get away. Melamine free milk or an apothecary chest from Hebei province, it really doesn’t matter. When it’s gone, it’s gone. I have learned the hard way.”

Ai Lin agreed on this point.

Bea, on the other hand, likes to think about her purchases before she forks over her cash. Sometimes she even consults her husband before buying an item. Big or small, it makes no difference. So, when she went to Bangladesh, she was unaccustomed to the shopping rigors of a tight time frame. Faced with the prospect of never returning to the country, home to sequined sandals, silk scarves, and beaded blouses, she became fearless and shopped away, cured of her mulling ways. Pleased with the results, she displayed all of her wares in her living room for my personal viewing, a vicarious thrill if ever there was one.

I am somewhere in between. I would rather live with a minor purchasing error than to have let it get away, assessing my time spent in the car and money spent on gas. If I have to mull, it’s because I genuinely need to discuss the issue with Mr. Understanding or I don’t have enough cash on hand. In general, this would mean it is a big ticket item. We have had only one argument over a purchase, a KitchenAid Mix Master; although I stand by the purchase, I am mindful of Mr. U’s price point. (Now that I think about it, there are a few purchases he doesn’t even know about).

Ai Lin, Bea and I all left Ikea with our carts brimming. As Bea says, it’s the closest thing to Target. In addition to the paper napkins, I bought some candles, placemats, wooden hangers, and (sigh) more clear plastic boxes. There was no mulling for me. Bea, on the other hand, is thinking about twelve dinner plates and Ai Lin is researching lamps.

Question of the Day: Duh! Are you a muller?




Filed under Life, People, Shopping

10 responses to “Muller

  1. flaky friend

    No – except in this market I am not buying anything full price so I have been waiting for things to go on sale.

  2. 425Heidi

    I am like Princess Z, I don’t like hanging around thinking about what I want to buy. I am in and out. However, I am married to the biggest muller around!! He drives me insane. And what is even worse (and this is an American thing), after a purchase he will continue to scour the ads to see if he can find it at a lower price! Shopping in a foreign country with him is a nightmare. What usually happens to us is when he finally decides to purchase something, he will find it for a much lower price a few stores away. This sends him into such a fit he no longer wants to buy anything. We have shopped for HOURS and not bought anything because of this handicap. Then he regrets not having a momento from the trip! I guess I should be happy I am married to man that likes to shop, if only I could teach him how to buy with no regrets.

  3. susan

    I am a combination of the two. Antiques and jewelery, I mull. I am much quicker on art and clothing purchases. Still laughing when Ms expat princess was at my house when my husband found a large painting ( not expensive, market place) I had purchased knowing my husband was not wild about anything that was not an impressionist type painting. I had hidden it in the bike closet never used except that day to get bike pump. I figured he would see on the wall in the states. We all had a good laugh. He loves it now.

  4. MCV

    Unfortunately I am a muller. Fortunately I don’t really shop.

  5. FF: waiting for an item to go on sale is different than mulling. There really are no sales in the PRC but I think that is about to change.

    425Heidi: I feel your pain! I have shopped with these type of people before and it is a hideous experience. I would simply have to part ways. Why quibble over a $5 item???

    Susan/Mrs. O’Leary: I can still hear your husband calling your name from the bike shed! For the readers, I was not present when the item was purchased, although she did stop by my house to show me.

    MCV: that’s because you are busy working and being a good mother.

  6. maria

    I buy precious minutes or hours.Spend money doing things we like and perhaps will not have another chance is my target in life.A nice suite in Santorini with sunset view,a good wine or champagne in my house with friends,the best restaurant in SAo paulo/Chigago or NY,animada com amigos!.All this things are precious for me.By the way I will spend some money in an air ballon trip with friends this month….Fernando will be on earth(too scary he says);I need a friend to force him with a contract,will you princess?

  7. SarahP

    I’m not a muller but my husband is. He will wait and wait and research and research. Normally this drives me crazy but because of his mulling we did not get around to investing some money in the stock market last summer. It is still sitting in the bank. (Thank god!)

  8. Expat:
    Not a muller. Not even a half-muller. Just. Dont. Know. How. To. Mull.

    The cure for mulling is learning how to recycle. If I buy something I can’t return, I give it to Goodwill, take the tax write-off, or give it to someone else who wants it. Easy come, easy go.

  9. Raftbuddy

    Depends on the item and the price!

  10. warrop

    For all of those “Muller” husbands, do what I did for mine. Buy him a “Nike shirt”, and when he is torturing himself over a purchase and struggling to find the best deal, have him put the shirt on and remind him to “just do it”.

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