“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?