February 12, 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic

I laughed my way through the candy-of-a-novel Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella in 2002. Now—the movie, which releases tomorrow. At the time of my reading, I was penning a personal finance book that was published the following year, so I was rather reading the chicky fiction through that lens.

What struck me was how much the protagonist's shopping experience had elevated (or declined, depending on your perspective) to a sort of religious experience.

For the highly evolved consumer (particularly you waaay smart and savvy mommy bloggers who have stopped by—and thank you for visiting), shopping has become both art and science. Shopping, in this era, has varying degrees of eptitude—beginner, advanced, graduate and PhD.

In Confessions of a Shopaholic, shopping was a sensual experience for the fictional character Rebecca Bloomwood. She mused,

"I count out the money in tens and twenties and wait, almost shivering as [the clerk] ducks behind the counter and produces the green box. She slides it into a thick glossy bag with dark green cord handles and hands it to me, and I almost want to cry out loud, the moment is so wonderful..."

"That moment. That instant when your fingers curl round the handles of a shiny, uncreased bag—and all the gorgeous new things inside it become yours. What’s it like? It’s like going hungry for days, then cramming your mouth full of warm buttered toast. It’s like waking up and realizing it’s the weekend. It’s like the better moments of sex. Everything else is blocked out of your mind. It’s pure, selfish pleasure."

For Rebecca, the experience becomes religious. Upon arriving home, she opens the box and reverentially lifts the scarf from the folded tissue.

She says, “For a moment we are both silent. It’s as though we’re communing with a higher being. The god of shopping.” Even the book title is suggestive of sin and the booth where Catholics go to acknowledge their wrongs.

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