I ran across this in my old files and it was written when Bathsheba was still living in my house and the Christmas shopping season was upon us.
I was doing some reading in a magazine on Economic the other night and I came across the term “consumer.” I expected to see a picture of Bathsheba there instead of a written definition. Bathsheba has learned at the foot of the master, her sister Cleopatra is the Yoda of “the force of shopping.”
Webster defines a consumer as a person who purchases, uses, and disposes of good and services, see shopper, customer, spender. This describes the young ladies of the house pretty except for leaving out the part about having a Pharaoh’s taste.
Bathsheba is to shopping and spending what Michael Jordan was to Basketball. When one searches for adjectives to describe this young lady, the terms thrifty, and hard working are usually missing. Now that the actual shopping days are upon us and the ads and catalogs abound, I have sweaty palms, a nervous tic and I am concerned that I am developing bladdy control problems.
It is fair to say that Bathsheba and I are total opposites about most things. I actually wear those big, floppy, mid-shin, zipper overshoes when there is a lot of snow or mud. Bathsheba would rather put on a pair of $120 high heel pumps to take the dog out in a blizzard. I have holes in my gardening shoes, wear a shirt with paint stains and sometimes fix a hole in my pocket with duct tape or staples and have been known to go to the store directly from the garden with a hole in my backside and a broken zipper. This inflicts raw terror on Bathsheba that someone who lives in her house would be seen in such a manner.
Bathsheba is an unimpeachable source of fashion correctness. Bathsheba would never wander out of the house to take the garbage out without a shampoo, set, nail job, and coordinated ensemble. She would get up 3:00 a.m. in time to do her makeup and hair, so she looks good on a 5:30 a.m. flight with total strangers who only want to grab some sleep.
Not that I don’t have my own vices where spending money is concerned. I own a lot of expensive ski equipment and live 500 miles from the nearest mountain. I spend too much on hardcover books because I don’t have the patience to wait for the cheaper paperback edition.
I believe that in Bathsheba’s bathroom, you would find about every new and different kind of shampoo and conditioner known to the western world. However, there is always a new one coming out that is supposedly better and therefore more expensive that finds its way into her hands. We have enough shampoos and hair treatments at our house to bring the entire 2-acre lawn into a luxuriant conditioned lather that will leave in various stages of manageability and conditioned shimmer. I have not noticed any improvement in her hair over the years, only an increase in price whenever a newer, designer shampoo comes out.
The rest of the family uses bar soap and have had very few complaints that we were leaving trails of dead skin cells and falling hair. After trying most every designer soap on the market, however, Bathsheba now considers bar soap to be the equivalent of bear grease and will only use the latest, which is . . . now get this . . . body shampoo. The only thing that body shampoo has over bar soap is it takes two hands to wash yourself. I predict that within a few months we will have purchased enough body shampoo to make someone else rich and there will be a new product out and Bathsheba will declare that the use of body shampoo is akin to pouring kerosene on your skin only this new product will keep her from turning into a leper.
As I said, she has learned the lessons well. She is well equipped to step into the shoes of her sister Cleopatra. Cleopatra would hail the 5% discount on her 32nd overpriced sweatshirt as being equal to the spending wisdom of Ben Franklin and an honor to thrifty prairie homesteaders. She will pay 40% over suggested retail to get a sweatshirt that has the name of a famous designer on it so that she can wear it inside out.
And now as approach the Christmas season, the ads say to buy, buy, and then buy more. Bathsheba’s Christmas list is usually a few pages longer than the Congressional Record. When I think of these two in a mall together, I get this vision of people spending like they were playing with MONOPOLY money on an acid trip. Yes, I have a Christmas list too. Get me a book, some ski wax and a gallon of generic shampoo.