In a word ... shopping

 

Dear reader, I hate shopping. Loathe, detest it. I can end up like Yeats’s old man in Sailing to Byzantium – “a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick” rather than go into a shop and buy a new jacket, coat, pants/jeans. Whatever. Though not an old man. Worse, I do not understand those who enjoy shopping. They challenge the most earnest of my determined-to-be-tolerant instincts.

Some years ago we went on a family holiday to New York city, marking one of our mother’s more recent significant birthdays. Our uncle, her twin brother, lives there. We had such a great time, except for the shops and the women.

Consumer daze

While they were gone, myself and my brother walked all around Manhattan exploring the scenes of my J1 years in that great city and all of the Ground Zero area before realising we’d been walking for seven hours – we’d better get back or the women would be wondering where we were.

Such fools, such fools. We might as well be our Fenian dead. We waited and waited.

They returned, eventually, but were gone again the next day!

It passeth all understanding.

It is shopping for pants/jeans that I detest most. All that stripping off and trying on. But I found myself having to do so recently. It did not help that I had forgotten my waist size. This may be unconscious as over recent years it has become so much easier to confuse my age with the spread there.

To make matters worse, the young attendant had the physique of a fit soccer player. He measured me and, at a guess, I’d say his leg was as long as my waist was broad; his waist equivalent to my leg.

Who needs the humiliation? So I bought three pairs the better to avoid such an ordeal for a long time again. Then he’d be useless as a rugby prop or sumo wrestler.

The word “shopping” is around since just 1922 while its parent word “shop” goes back to the 12th-century Old English scoppa, itself a close relative of the Old French eschoppe, meaning a booth, stall or room set aside for sale of merchandise.

inaword@irishtimes.com

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