Ooooh I love a truly ridiculous purchase. Nothing staves off work– real work– which can include defrosting the freezer or removing crud from the gutters or re-grouting the kitchen sink or lesson planning or just putting paid to the dirt of a new poem, yes, real work, nothing staves it off like a ludicrous purchase.
I save pennies (what my friend’s toddler so majestically refers to as “honeys”) nickels and dimes and then I blow the whole lot in a few clicks of cart. I take every effort not to– of course this is a habit that bedevils and it is to be discouraged– but one cannot always shun the siren call of, say, the bejeweled shower shoe.
Yes yes yes I have been following New York Fashion Week with a keen eye and noticed women’s shoes have entered a race to the bottom, the ugliest clunkers. Witness the furry slide, the gold-threaded Teva, the devils’s own Birkenstock. This footrace has intrigued me. Then I found this pair. This pair:
It took a day of solid wrangling. I pinned myself to the ground and I said Absolutely not. Those are way too expensive and they are absurd. You are a lousy fool and this is the best worst example. Release the damn abused credit card and go buy, if you must, some groceries and perhaps an amount of gin. Tuck yourself in early like a good schoolteacher. But no. No. The heart, that loneliest of hunters, wants what it wants and you just can’t tear the damn thing away from itself once it’s set. It is set!
Of course I tried some fancy secret tricks. This and that discount code that had come into my knowing possession. A little soft-shoe on the phone with a customer service representative. But she looked me up. And then it was: We know you. You can’t get that discount again. Goodbye.
Ah such as it is and so it goes. So here is the number, here is the security code, yes that is my name, the address is correct. Okay okay okay, it was all clicked to confirm and I nearly dove under the bed when finished because just the TAX ALONE on these creepers. I had not accounted for the tax, you see.
This question, it just so happens, also crossed the mind of my credit card company, with whom I am in fine and good standing and have never exchanged anything more than tidy monthly sums that are still too high but are not out of control and for this reason, hat in hand, I have been fortunate and steady in my zero-debt commitment.
Said company quickly called me. Here’s what happened:
“Hello, this is Lindsay of XXXX Credit Card Fraud Department, calling in reference to credit card number XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXX3. Is this Caroline Cooper?”
“Hi Ms. Cooper, how are you today?”
“I’m fine, how are you?”
“I’m calling, Ms Cooper, as there has been some activity on your credit card today and I just want to be sure it is valid so we can proceed with the transaction.”
“Oh, sure. Okay. What’s the activity?”
“Today at 12:34 pm we received a charge from XXXXXXXX XXXXXXX in the amount of $THIS FIGURE IS SO RIDICULOUS WE COULD ALL BE IN MOROCCO DRINKING INFUSED VODKAS ON A ROOFTOP AT SUNSET FOR THIS AMOUNT.”
“Ms. Cooper, this figure is in connection to the purchase of the, um, the cat pool slide, A BEJEWELED SHOWER SHOE. Is that correct?”
(One must pause. One must always pause, of course, one must always pause and consider and backpedal and be assured of reasonable outs or at least sufficient time to consider and take stock, but one must specifically and pointedly pause right here. The statement was not inaccurate, as far as statements go. The statement was not inaccurate.)
“Yeah, you know. That sounds about right.”
(I will pause again here and be clear, because I have the side to my heart and mind that all prickly people do and it cannot be easily shocked and awed, no it can’t, but the truth is if this gracious woman had reached me in any less of a mood, any less willing to pucker up to the slights and blandishments of the day, I’dda read her a riot act on the intimacy of this exchange and the very real way tone plays a role in all human interaction and I can not only hear but I can FEEL SENSE SMELL, young Lindsay, the many ways you are hating my purchase right now and its inanity, a point I have never refuted. Yet could we not have administered the automated system for just these circumstances? I felt like the 16 year old boy buying not just one or two, not just a package, of condoms. I felt like the kid that walks into Duane Read and tries to walk out with an entire aisle of prophylactics. It’s just a fact that sometimes we make purchases that speak more to aspiration– life as we would have it lived– rather than life as it is. For the young man, perhaps, that aspiration is the constant availability of protected sex. For me, it would seem, it is the galling option of a fabulously bedecked shower shoe. We take what comfort we can from this life and wisely leave the rest to the cosmos and agents of fraud departments, in that order.)
“Okay, just as long as it’s a valid purchase,” Lindsay intoned.
“Oh I don’t know if I would go so far to say it’s a valid purchase,” I hastened in my chaste little way. “But it’s me, that’s for sure. No sense in lying now. It’s me.”
“Thank you, Ms. Cooper.”