I wonder if Christmas shoppers rummaging through stores ever wonder,
“What happened to the really good stuff?”
I will now solve that mystery for you.
The Chanukah shoppers got there first.
This is not a question of under-the-radar religious competition. It’s just the calendar – Chanukah inevitably precedes Christmas. Although, to be totally honest, through numerous decades of Chanukah shopping, I have never heard the words,
“Leave something for them.”
There are, however, occasions, stemming more from an insidious character flaw than ecumenical generosity, that we inevitably leave a few absolute nuggets behind.
What I am referring to is not, I believe, a uniquely Jewish insidious character flaw. It is universally pervasive. I think. I cannot be sure about that, as I am only one thing.
Consider the following and see if it sounds familiar to you, regardless of race, creed, country of origin, or height.
The specific character flaw I am referring to?
Seeing something you want desperately to buy, and inexplicably, not pulling the trigger.
Ring a bell?
Oh, the heartbreak! Oh, the regret!
But you can’t help it, right? It’s like the opposite of “Impulse shopping.” It is “Impulse Passing-It-Up.” And then kicking yourself till you’re blue in the shins.
There was this pair of chocolate brown suede loafers I saw in shoe-store window in Rome…
I cannot talk about it, fearing a complete emotional breakdown.
You would think that by now I’d have learned my lesson. And I did. But it was a different lesson, that lesson being:
I never learn my lesson.
My most recent folly in this regard?
Early December (sorry to rub that in, just going for accuracy), 2015.
I am Chanukah shopping with my daughter Anna, visiting various emporia that have come through for us “gift-wise” in the past. We stop in at Mohawk, one of the trendier boutiques on our list. How can you tell an Los Angeles boutique is trendy? By the quality of the salespeople’s tattoos.
While perusing the merchandise, Anna excitedly brings over something for me. There is no rule that you cannot buy something for yourself while you are Chanukah shopping for others. Maybe for the extremely Hasidic, but I am not into ringlets and tall hats.
A Significant Side Trip: Here’s what I wear most days. I am actually wearing a version of this as I write.
A t-shirt, and gym pants. Or as they will be referred to in this story – and the manufacturer not inaccurately calls them – “House Pants.”
It is generally understood that I am always on the lookout for sartorial supplements of that nature. And Anna has hit the absolute bull’s eye.
Olive green, soft cotton, lightweight “House Pants” in my waist size and length.
“Check, check, check, check, check.”
And only seventy-three dollars.
So very enthusiastically, “Check again.”
I try them on; they’re perfect.
Anna is delighted she made her Daddio happy. She further reports that there is a second pair of “House Pants”, exactly the same, except, she says hesitantly, they are dark, navy blue.
Anna knows that blue is beyond my acceptable color spectrum – “Earth Tones”. Plus black, which is not technically, I imagine, an “Earth Tone”, unless the earth in question had survived a fire.
Final Mohawk Shopping Summary:
Olive green “House Pants”: “Ring ‘em up.”
Nix-ola on the blue.
Months go by. It should be mentioned, probably earlier but better now than never, that Mohawk is in Silverlake, an eastside district of Los Angeles twenty miles from our home in Santa Monica. So driving there myself is out of the question. It might as well be St. Louis.
For some reason, however, Dr. M and I are in that general vicinity one weekend, and, out of the blue, I ask her to drive me to Mohawk, and she does.
When we arrive, I move immediately to the clothing rack where the olive green “House Pants” were discovered. And, of course, the navy blue “House Pants” I had unconsciously begun lusting for are no longer there.
I do, however, find a pair of olive green facsimile “House Pants”, and I ask the bejangled with tattoo-accessorizing baubles and bangles salesgirl if she has my size in these “House Pants” in the back.
And it turns out she does.
Just before I am about to step behind the not-particularly-privacy-insuring curtain and try them on, I inadvertently check the price of these “House Pants”.
Instead of seventy-three dollars for “The Pants That Got Away”.
I did not buy them. Four-hundred-and-five dollars for “House Pants”? It is not that nice of a house.
Well, what are you gonna do? It has happened before – in the window of Paris antique store I once spotted a deck of vintage “round” playing cards – and it will happen again. Barring an alteration in behavior which I am not betting on, my only alternative is to accept my stupidity, and move on. (The Parisian boo-boo? 1967, And I’m still angry about it. So I have some work to do there too.)
Am I over the “House Pants”?
“Okay, they were blue. But otherwise, it was ‘Check, check, check, check, check!’”
But I will definitely keep you posted.