What’s shopaphobia’? Well I don’t think the word actually exists but it should. And it would mean a fear of shopping. Thankfully I don’t suffer from this non-existent misnomer so I’m not a ‘shopaphobe’ but I don’t exactly enjoy shopping either. Especially for clothes.
It wouldn’t be so bad if I were a perfect size ‘x’ (you didn’t really think I’d let on what size I am, did you?). I happen to have long limbs so long-sleeved clothes and trousers which would probably be a perfect fit for others my size usually look ludicrously undersized on me. It also doesn’t help that the clothing industry can’t seem to agree on standard measurements as almost each store has different measurements. This means that whenever I go clothes shopping, I don’t have the luxury of just choosing what I want (if I do succeed in finding it) paying for it and walking out of the store. To make sure I don’t have to make a second trip back to the store just to return or exchange the items, I must try them on in the shop. I will not even go into the hazards of manoeuvring and navigating some fitting rooms, the long queues, the drapes that never quite protect your modesty and the list goes on but I won’t.
This, in turn, means I have to carefully consider what I wear when I go shopping so as to minimise the trauma of constantly changing into and out of clothes. Woe betide me if I make an unplanned trip to the shops dressed in the required number of layers to stave of the wintry cold!
In my ideal world, there would be no need to go clothes shopping if I didn’t fancy it. I would have a personal shopper who would know my measurements, style and preferences. She/he would buy all the clothes and have them delivered to me at home where I would have a very large walk-in closet. A member of my domestic staff would arrange the clothes in some sort of order, I wouldn’t care which as I’d have little or nothing to do with it. Said member of staff would also catalogue the items of clothing, accessories and footwear in a bespoke computer application.
All I would need to do would be to enter what sort of look I was after or what event I was attending into the computer and it would put together a stunning ensemble to suit the occasion. I would then walk into the closet, retrieve the outfit, kit myself out in it and step out in grand style. Obviously money would have to be no object for this pipe dream to even dare to become reality.
Ah! If wishes were horses…!
Anyway back to my not-quite-shopaphobia-but-more-a-strong-dislike-for-shopping. I know where it stemmed from and exactly who is to blame for it. My mother!
I grew up in Port Harcourt, a capital city in the south east of Nigeria. There were three large supermarkets; Kingsway, Leventis and Chanrai’s however, to the best of my recollection, a lot of people still shopped in the local outdoor markets. There were quite a few of those dotted around the city but the main and larger ones were Mile 1 market, Mile 3 market, Town market, Borokiri market, Elekahia market to mention a few.
The more organised markets were made up of rows and rows of stalls covered with zinc roofing sheets. I use the word ‘organised’ loosely as they weren’t that much so. In some cases, vendors of similar items could be located in close proximity to each other, in other cases, they would be spread around the market.
In my pre-teen and teenage years, I usually accompanied my mother to the market, not out of choice though, I hasten to add. We sometimes went to a couple of markets in one shopping trip depending on which items my mother deemed appropriately priced or fresher or whatever other criteria she may have had at the time.
My mother was no impulse buyer. She had to be sure she was getting the very best value for money before she made a single purchase. Unfortunately for me, this very high and exacting standard meant we would traipse around the market, ‘pricing’ (bargaining) each item on her list with practically every vendor who sold them and sometimes end up buying it from the very first vendor we met. Even a very short shopping list required a few good hours!
All this was usually done in the baking heat of the hot, hot sun or the monsoon-like downpours. Many times I came this close to passing out from sheer exhaustion, thirst, hunger and extreme heat. I would plead with her to buy from the nearest vendors and be done with it. She would silence me with a look that spoke louder than words and carry on with her search for the elusive bargain. If she was in a better mood, we would sit for a while in a stall and she would buy me a chilled soft drink from a passing hawker to quench my thirst and appease me.
Needless to say, as soon as I was grown up enough to have a say, I refused to accompany her anymore. No amount of pleading or emotional blackmail could make me change my mind.
Regrettably, my windfall hasn’t made an appearance yet so while I await it, I still have to endure the drudgery of shopping every now and again.
Roll on, windfall!