I hate planning vacations. Or rather, I hate planning vacations with my wife. You see, she’s a shopper. Sounds like an innocent enough term when tossed casually into a conversation doesn’t it? Being a discriminating shopper is a good thing is it not? To carefully weigh ones options before deciding on a course of action is a sign of a logical and rational mind. There is however a fine line between making careful considerations and that of entering a land of fun house mirrors in which up and down have no meaning, left and right have lost all relevancy. A land of obsessive compulsive looking without any hope of deciding. I have again been drawn into the world of shopping without buying.
About two weeks ago we began planning a twelve day road trip from our home in the Pacific Northwest to Southern California and back, hitting all the tourist attractions and traps along the way. By “we” I mean that I was to make the calculations regarding how much time it will take to get from point A to points B,C,D etc. while she made the lodging decisions. I accomplished my duties in short order with the help of AAA’s invaluable triptix function, and tossed her a list of cities and the dates that we would be in them. I assumed that her portion of the planning, consisting of choosing an appropriate hotel or motel in each stop of the trip, would be finished in equally short order and we could return to life’s customary autumn rhythms while pleasantly anticipating our Christmas time journey. I unfortunately had failed to take into account in my assumption that my wife, while certainly possessing the traits of rationality and logic, is a shopper of the compulsive sort and as such these traits are rendered moot in the context of making the simple day-to-day decisions that we are all faced with on a regular basis.
Over the next three or four days, I had noticed that she was spending an inordinate amount of time on the computer, and that this was accompanied by a progressively shorter fuse on her already quick temper. “What are you doing on that thing anyway” I finally asked, only to be met with a string of expletives and a less than polite request for my assistance in choosing our hotels for the trip. In hindsight it probably would have been wise to just pull up a chair and throw in my two cents worth, but for reasons unclear to me now I simply stated “Well…how many hotels have you booked so far?” After a long pause, she stared unblinkingly at me and said…”none”. Again for reasons unclear I retorted “You’re not finished with that yet!? What the hell have you been doing on that computer for the last four days!!? Her unblinking stare turned decidedly icy. Quickly realizing my tactical error I altered course. “I’m sorry honey. What I meant to say was, if we don’t get these rooms booked, they will all fill up and we will be SOL and spending a goodly portion of our vacation evenings searching for vacancy signs at motels that rent rooms by the hour. So again…and please don’t interpret this as anything other than criticism of the most constructive sort, what the fuck have you been doing for the last four days?” “Shopping” she said. “Shopping to save you money.”
Ten years ago after a long and thoughtful search, I purchased our large living room sofa. I was careful to select it for the qualities of size and comfort that might befit a man of my physical stature when in dutch with the wife. Its cushions have gone threadbare while never letting me down in this regard. I like to think that one day I will understand the value of and develop a patience for careful, deliberative shopping…but not yet.