I can’t watch movies with other people. At least movies that aren’t “The Hangover” or “Miss Congeniality.” Any movie that’s even the slightest bit more highbrow I have to watch alone. If other people are around, I can’t focus on what I’m watching. I get obsessively preoccupied with other people’s reactions and worry about their reactions to my reactions.
For example, if my fellow viewer laughs at a mediocre line, then I feel like I have to laugh so he or she won’t feel stupid. I wish I could say that this tendency is some grand personality component that has to do with validating other people’s emotions, but it’s probably just insecurity.
I much prefer watching movies on my own. I can laugh when I feel like it and get teary without feeling awkward about it. I can get fully absorbed into the mise-en-scènes or whatever mumbo-jumbo film professors like to go on and on about. Similar to my movie-watching tendencies are my habits as a consumer. I can only go shopping by myself.
Moseying around stores with friends is fun and all — especially if you just want to drive sales associates crazy and browse your way through an entire rack of sunglasses without any intention of buying a pair — but when it comes to hardcore shopping, I have to be alone.
Trust me, you wouldn’t want to be around when I have my sights set on a wardrobe overhaul. It’s not something you want to witness.
This is how my shopping experience goes: Step one is caffeination. The most integral part of the shopping experience, a strong cup of coffee is what separates the shop-till-you-find-it from the check-one-store-and-leave.
So I get to the mall, my caffeine buzz at full-throttle and head to the stores I can’t afford. Looking at $500 cardigans that don’t have missing buttons and loose threads refines my taste and makes it less likely that I’ll buy a lot of crap later on.
Once I’ve successfully ended my cravings for polyester blends, I head to the budget retailers. This is where it gets ugly.
I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to all sales associates who have ever had to work in the fitting room on a day that I’ve entered their store. I know, I’m a huge pain in the ass. I’ve worked in retail and I am, in fact, my own worst nightmare.
I head in and slowly comb my way through the racks. I only pick up what I’m instantly drawn to and make commentary for everything I see. “Are people really still wearing t-shirts that proclaim they love their boyfriend? Who would buy anything that looks this cheap? This dress would make Kate Moss look obese.” I get annoyed with the obnoxiously giggly teenagers and people who block the mirror while I’m trying to decide if I can pull off hats.
By the time I reach the back of the store, I realize that I’m holding four black t-shirt dresses and scold myself for not thinking outside the box. So I return to the front of the store and start over. This time, I convince myself to look more closely at everything and pick up stuff I don’t already own in three versions.
I head to the dressing room where the poor girl who’s working back there explains that, “Sorry, you can only take in six pieces at a time, but I’ll hold these extra 12 things out here for you.” So I head in, invariably hate everything and make my way through the massive pile of stuff that I mistook for necessities.
Sometimes I won’t like anything, but I feel so guilty about trying so much on that I’ll keep a few things, tell the sales girl I love them and then hang them back up myself.
I then circle through the store again and make sure there is nothing left to try on (there isn’t) and start digging through the accessories. At this point, if someone has braved accompanying me on my shopping trip, she grumpily taps her foot by the door and repeatedly checks the time on her cell phone.
Shopping alone is simply better. I can focus, and other people don’t convince me to buy things I don’t need.
I tried to research my theory that shopping alone affects how much money you spend and what you buy, but I didn’t have any luck. So if any grad school out there would like to give me a full scholarship to study shopping behaviors, consider this my personal statement.