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I Do It Alone: Shopping

IT'S BACK BITCHES. Guess what it didn't die; I just didn't have any contributors for a long time.

I Do It Alone: Shopping
by Erin Cline

We all have our weird shit. The shit no one sees, save for MAYBE your BFF or MAYBE your partner—and even those are big maybes. The beautiful thing about the weird shit is that it’s not necessarily something that is kinky or hazardous to the health or safety of yourself or others; no, nothing like least, not in this story. Right now, I’m simply referring to the shit you don’t want to show others for fear of them confirming exactly what you already know: You’re a huge fucking weirdo.

My preference for shopping alone started when I was a teenager, and, initially, there was only one person I refused to venture out with—one of my dearest friends to this day is a serious shopping addict and always has been; she has to look at every item in every section and has an annoying habit of calling dibs on everything in the store until she decides she doesn't want it and only then are you free to have it. No joke, she once snatched a hanger from my hand and bolted to the dressing room so that she could have the first claim at a simple pullover hoodie. Even just thinking about it now pisses me off and this was like 15 years ago. My dismay for shopping with her was very much a it’s-not-me-it’s-you situation; but as I got older, I came to realize that I have a shopping habit/quirk/weird thing of my own that, if witnessed, would likely have people loathing shopping trips with me, and it was then that I vowed I’d only invite someone shopping over my dead body, and I’d never accept a shopping invite again.

Because I am hyper self-aware (which is both a blessing and a curse), I acknowledge that I have a hard time making simple decisions. And by “simple decisions” I mean the absolute simplest of decisions. Major, life-changing problem; I’ll handle those like a boss all day. But the simple day-to-day decisions that, in reality, do not fucking matter at all: they’re my kryptonite. And where this weakness peaks is on supposedly-simple shopping trips.

For example, tampons. Does the brand really matter? No. It doesn’t. Tampons are tampons. Sure, some brands may be preferable in regard to price or ethical business operations, but at their core, all tampons are just cotton vaginal plugs on strings. They are all pretty much the same. This is the rationale of a mentally stable person. But, to me, this is a decision that must be mulled over for as long as is necessary to be sure that I will not experience buyer’s remorse. Over tampons. Because we all know how common it is to get home with a box of tampons and realize you’ve made a huge mistake and you really should have thought it through.

Let me paint you a picture: you walk by me in the feminine hygiene aisle at the grocery store, holding two different boxes of tampons, trying to decide which to buy. I might look normal, but in my head, it’s going something like this: “OK this one has 36 Regular tampons total for $10, but this one is a variety pack with 8 Light, 16 Regular, and 8 Super on sale for $7, but I already have a bunch of Supers and I need more Lights, but the only box of just Light ones says they’re scented and I don’t like those, so OK if I get the $7 box (opens phone calculator) that’s like $.22 per tampon, but the other ones are (calculates) $.30 per tampon, oh but I just read that article about how store-bought tampons are usually dipped in bleach which can cause all kinds of reproductive issues, so I should really just order them online from one of those organic companies that doesn’t use chemicals but I should have done that a couple weeks ago because I’m on my period now and I need tampons, and I guess I could drive over to Whole Foods for those, but (checks time) I’m definitely cutting it close on time, so I really just need to get them here and I can figure out a better brand before my next period, so OK this one has 36 Regular tampons total…” and it continues on like that until I realize that I’ve literally been standing in the aisle for 20 minutes, having an unjustified internal battle over tampons and that I probably need to start going to therapy again because This. Is. Not. Normal.

Some of you reading this might be thinking, “You’re making informed purchasing decisions so you get the best value for your money, what’s wrong with that?” Of course, being informed is a good thing, but I can afford the additional $.08 per tampon and 20 minutes arguing with myself about tampons is irrational and anyone who sees me like this will never look at me the same again.

But you’re not always going to get to shop alone. People need to run errands; we have to buy things all the time and sometimes it’s super inconvenient to wait until you’re alone to make a trip to the store when it’s right there and you’re already out. So you make a silent promise to get in and out of the store in an acceptable amount of time and not turn it into rocket science. Not only am I hyper self-aware, but I am also hyper-aware of others’ comfort—again, a blessing and a curse. So, even if my shopping guest is perfectly polite and courteous and patient as I turn into Rain Man while buying tampons, I am absolutely going to have anxiety about it and apologize every 30 seconds for taking so long. They’ll say, “It’s ok, don’t worry about it,” but I know they’re judging me because WHO TAKES 20 MINUTES TO CHOOSE TAMPONS.

Don’t even get me started on a trip to Target. To give you an idea of what that’s like, just take my anecdote about the tampons, put it on steroids, then add sensory overload and caffeine—because, of course, all Targets have Starbucks now.

I don’t care if it’s my mom or my best friend or my partner; I don’t care if it’s a quick in-and-out of the grocery store, a five-hour trip to Target, or swinging by a drug store for a birthday card on the way to the birthday party (ugh, the debacle of greeting cards FML). The point is: I know who I am. I am total fucking weirdo who can’t make simple decisions and I prefer to shop alone.
Erin Cline is a native Phoenician, a writer, a storyteller and most of all a huge weirdo. She began writing poetry at 10 years old and has evolved into a personal-narrative writer who loves dogs and prefers to shop alone.

Talk to Britt if you're interested in contributing in the future. 


  1. I have to admit, my MO when it comes to buying lady thingzzzz is pretty similar. Sometimes i just overwhelm myself and leave the store without anything.

  2. I don’t even like strangers around me when I’m shopping.

  3. Britt I want to share music but stuff I discover is usually not new!


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