Buying Habits

Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagine.” I loved that somewhat cheesy but undeniably inspiring statement even when I thought it was the tagline of a bank, though I was relieved to find out it was one of the great thinkers of the 19th century who had so moved me, and not just a bank.

One of the more superficial ways I implement this idea is by dressing for the life I imagine. I only buy loungewear, black boots, bikinis and t-shirts with faces on them, and this is why I never have anything to wear to work. I tried to rectify this with a recent shopping spree aimed at fleshing out my respectable working wardrobe. Instead, I bought: sheepskin slippers, two bikinis, a black satin kimono with a dragon embroidered on the back and my third t-shirt with a face on it.

The result of these buying habits is that I am very well-dressed in my house and at the beach. The rest of the time things don’t quite add up.

But I can explain. The black satin kimono I need for a variety of purposes, including this very moment. More specific purposes of the black satin kimono include: running for the door when awakened by the UPS man from deep, naked sleeping (a problematic convergence of my internet-ordering tendencies and my sleeping-till-noon tendencies and my sleeping naked tendencies) and smoking and martini-drinking with my colleagues, friends and confidants. The kimono, I think, could just as easily also be a smoking jacket. The official tag says, “Happy Coat.”

The sheepskin slippers are practically a medical necessity, since I suffer from a rare disorder that causes your body to drain your extremities of blood at the earliest sign of cold, causing pseudo-hypothermic reactions to 50-degree weather, but only in my last two toes. In my new sheepskin slippers my feet, once chronically cold, are now so happily warm that they’re coming alive like patients awakening from a coma. These slippers are so great that wearing them is an experience unto itself. As my grandmother would say, “So stimulating! So alive!”

The bikinis I need for swimming which is what I do every possible moment from June to October.

“You really love to go to the beach,” said Rebecca, when I showed her my new bikinis.

“Who doesn’t love to go to the beach?” I asked.

“Lots of people like to go to the beach, but with you, it’s different. You really love to go to the beach,” she repeated somewhat ominously.

It’s true. I keep a beach umbrella in the umbrella bucket by the door, just waiting to be called into use. I also keep a fishing pole, a wiffle bat and a deflated beach ball in there, during all eight months of the year when there’s no possibility of going to the beach, just to be ready when it’s time to go to the beach. I really do love the beach, in the way that I love everything I love, which means missing it when it is far and feeling nostalgic for it even when I am there, conjuring it through objects and memories and seeking it everywhere.

Having missed the Polar Bear Club New Year’s Day Swim again this year, I have resolved to swim independently of their brand-name event in the frigid, filthy waters of Coney Island, and that is another reason why I bought the bikinis. I mean, I have half a dozen other bikinis, but I figure an activity like that warrants new bikinis.

The face t-shirts I can’t entirely explain. It amuses me when the eyes line up with my boobs, and I kind of like the metaphor of showing multiple faces to the world, and the reality of quite literally having two faces on my person. Sometimes I have this strange paranoia that my face reveals too much about my thoughts. I think it came from a series of nightmares I had in which my thoughts became visible above my head in little thought balloons like in a comic book. It’s caused me to wear aviator sunglasses somewhat addictively to prevent people from reading my mind through the windows to my soul. The face t-shirts, I feel, provide a stoic counterpoint to my actual face, a face I can show the world whose expression never changes and who therefore reveals nothing while my actual face reveals everything.

Inevitably, at some point in my wearing of one of my face t-shirts, I acquire a new paranoia–that the face on my face t-shirt is prettier than me. I become competitive with my face t-shirt, determined to outwit her, outshine her, outsmart her. “It’s me they love,” I hiss to my face t-shirt while refreshing my lipstick in the bathroom, “me, me, me, not you! You’re just a face with boobs stuck in your eyes!” The face t-shirt often becomes my enemy, though she is also my twin, and in this way we are all at war with ourselves.

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