For me, shopping and subterfuge have always been inextricably linked. Not grocery shopping. Not shopping for necessities like tyres or white goods or school shoes or sheets. Not shopping for others, not gifts. But buying things for yourself and being deceitful about it go together like ice cream and Milo. Naturally.
Consider one of the most popular modern sports for women: Shop, Hide and Lie where you buy things, smuggle them into your house to avoid questioning and then lie if asked (by a guy), “Is that new?”
We have regular debates in my house about the definition of ‘new’. Is it something I bought this week? This year? Or something my husband hasn’t seen me in before?
My own definition is tight. It’s new if I bought it in the previous 72 hours. Once the tag is off? Not new anymore. Conveniently, this allows me to meet almost all enquiries with the truthful response: “No, it’s old”. (Quick aside: why is it that I bristle when my husband asks if something is new and I’ll always deny it but when a girlfriend asks, I beam and say “yes!’ and disclose all details proudly and unprompted?).
Most women are adept at the art of smuggling purchases from store to wardrobe. Some even keep spare dry-cleaner bags in their cars for this very purpose while others stash swing tags in the glove box or in the neighbour’s wheelie bin.
I’ve given much thought as to why we bother with this charade, even if we’re spending our own money. Even if the men we’re deceiving don’t care what we buy. Perhaps it’s instinctive. Like the way my dog will bury a bone even though it’s unnecessary because there will be plenty of dinner and more bones to come and because nobody else is going to steal the disgusting manky thing if he leaves it on the grass. Still, he buries it. It’s in his doggy DNA.
I bury my shopping even though my husband doesn’t care, let alone chastise me for buying things I may not actually need (the definition of ‘need’ is also highly contentious at my house, I find debating technicalities is an effective diversionary tactic. Try It.).
With less time available to me as the demands of work and kids crank up, I suddenly understand the appeal of online shopping. I’d dabbled a bit in the past. A bit of eBay here. The odd purchase there. But my usual modus operandi has been this perverse thing where I gaily fill my online shopping cart with all sorts of goodies and then abandon it at the checkout, close the window and move on. This is surprisingly satisfying.