shopping in seattle and getting it

Dear Uma: It was funny to listen to you go on and on about the snow in Vancouver when I'd left some serious winter in the Yukon; I thought the day of city slush was sort of fun.

Dear Uma:

It was funny to listen to you go on and on about the snow in Vancouver when I’d left some serious winter in the Yukon; I thought the day of city slush was sort of fun.

I stayed another day after you left and thought of taking your suggestion of a facial and some shopping, but it seemed I was just not the sort of woman who really knows how to get pleasure from such activities; any more than you are.

I ended up going to a game farm in Langley with MJ and Oliver and then to a pub in Steveston with them and some friends of theirs. It was a good time altogether and I could have stayed longer, but I’d already promised Lari I’d be in Seattle for his show and that is where I am right now.

The couple of days you and I had in Vancouver; movies and great food – yes! But it seems I was not to be allowed to escape the girl-y stuff because Lari had already planned the first day of my stay: we went to his favourite spa and had body wraps, massages, manis and pedis and a facial. The day began at 10 a.m. and wasn’t over till 2 p.m. and, fortunately, included a lunch, of sorts.

I don’t find these forays very peaceful or relaxing to tell you the truth.

There is a suggestion of pity on the part of the immaculate priestesses who serve in these establishments when they view my unshaved legs and bare toe nails, my open pores and my rough elbows.

When my lack of shame for my condition becomes evident, their pity becomes patronizing, as though they believe I don’t know any better, simple peasant that I am, than to be ashamed of being so unkempt.

I also find myself conscious of the cost, even though I myself have never paid for any of these treatments; they have always been a gift, or a surprise or like Lari, a friend who is so keen on such things and so keen on my company that he will pay for a combination of both. It doesn’t matter whose money, though, it is still a waste in my opinion and I have yet to notice any real difference in appearance other than having neat clean fingernails and gaudily-coloured toenails.

Lari and I had a great talk fest, though, throughout this day of scented prinking and pampering. He told me the next day was going to be shopping, and hair. Clearly he was longing to redo me, and despite my utter lack of interest I agreed to do whatever he wanted on the condition that we spend the following day doing things I wanted to do: go to a sumo match and check out a dog show. The deal was struck.

Living in the Yukon seems to have done away with any desires I ever had to buy stuff. I was never one to shop for the fun of it, but I was OK with getting things needed and sometimes even with things that were just good to look at and nice to have around.

Now I wander through the stores and wonder why anyone would buy most of the items I see. In food stores there is little real food and in other stores there is little real need for the goods. How many sheets and pillows and blankets can one sleep in? Bath towels and dish cloths don’t wear out quickly enough to warrant buying them every few months, nor do clothes or household items.

The next morning found me sitting in a barber chair drinking coffee with Amaretto and cream while Lari described to Jean Luc what he expected him to do with my hair.

Unlike my hairdressing adventures with you, this one took very little time. But I was left with very little hair. What there was stuck up in twisted tufts, each one made pointy with careful application of a substance realistically branded Mudd.

The jar of take home Mudd cost nearly as much as the haircut, but I have found that it is necessary if I am to look as though I have human hair on my head. Mudd-less, my hair has no body or lift of its own and lies on my skull looking like a mouse hide. However, I liked this new look, and started the shopping expedition feeling sorta cute.

Maybe feeling sorta cute explains the shopping, or maybe it was the Amaretto for breakfast followed by the martini lunch, but I seem to have really gotten into it. We got back to Lari’s place in time to change into some of our new clothes and go out for dinner with Ali and Drake. A late night, and the next morning I told Lari that if he didn’t mind, I’d rather do some more shopping than watch sumo or dogs. He was surprised, but not displeased and we spent another whirlwind day of buying stuff.

I have had to buy another suitcase. It is a poison green and has a fabulous plaid lining. There are a number of items that I have had shipped north and this morning, my last in Seattle, I have decided to sit down for a quiet moment and examine my purchases before Lari and I go to this auction he found out about yesterday. It sounds very good; an estate auction with a promise of Chinese antique furniture.

So, I have bought some accessories, necessary to pump up the basic black pants, skirt, sweater and dress that I was assured make me look as though I am a born New Yorker, so sleek and sophisticated are these items. The belt is a work of art, being made of thick leather and embellished with polished stones, fringes and brass studs. It has pouches hanging from it and I was assured these various sacks made the carrying of a handbag superfluous. And whoever carries anything more than a credit card and a cellphone anyway?

Tall boots, also with pouches, though these are zippered instead of buttoned or tied.

We both bought wide-brimmed hats that can be crushed into small corners of a suitcase.

Jeans with zippers all the way up the outside of the legs, from hip to ankle, and also purchased by both Lari and myself.

A denium poncho for me, with slogans written in some eastern European language all around the hem.

Lari bought a shirt for himself with zippered breast pockets and I bought one for Pete.

We both bought the canvas jackets with the built-in backpacks.

I got a necklace of brass gods and goddesses of India.

We bought espresso cups and big bags of biscotti and I got an espresso maker and some glass dragonfly spoons. I forgot that neither Pete nor I drink coffee.

Lari got a pasta maker and convinced me I would like one, too. It began to rain hard so we bought umbrellas; Lari’s has ducks on it and mine has frogs.

I bought a flashlight that runs on solar power or can be wound up by hand, and a watch for Pete that does much more than merely tell the time of day. It tells you where you are and how you got there and how to get to the next place and what you can do when you get there. It shows the phases of the moon, converts money and even weighs fish, I think.

We bought boxes of seaweed wafers that taste hotly of chilies, and some frozen gnocci. I bought dozens of containers of exotic spices and a mortar and pestle with which to grind them.

A patio set of a round table and two chairs, very chic, has been shipped, and a table shaped like an elephant.

Oh, and a really interesting floor lamp. That was a terrific store; it was right beside the bistro where we had lunch and beer. We found a store that sells nothing but beeswax candles, which, we learn, are the only environmentally safe sort to burn.

Rereading this, I think I ought to pass up the auction. In fact, I am feeling abruptly sobered, like someone coming off a drug high, maybe. The glow is still present; I am liking what I see, but at the same time I can’t help but think I may not feel this way when I get back to Watson Lake with my new stuff.

Maybe the arrivals of the other stuff will keep that warmth happening, at least till the VISA bills start to come in and totally kill my quiver.



Heather Bennett is a writer who lives in Watson Lake.

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