New Segment: Retail Therapy


There’s a couple of things I really like to do, and there’s a couple of things I’ll admit that I’m good at. If I had to get those things down to their empirical form, they’d be:

  1. Finding good deals
  2. Brightening other’s days
  3. Telling boring stories in a humorous way

So, it’s no surprise that as I get to know myself better, I become more prolific in all three of these categories. But today is when I merge them together, in a new series I’m going to call Retail Therapy, or, more commonly known as What I Bought When I was Sad AF.

It’s not that I’ve never wanted a pet, I just don’t really know what to do with one. My mom was one of six kids, and my kickass grandmother raised all six of them with the help of her mother, after my grandfather was killed in the military. Half of my aunts/uncles went on to own animal friends, the other half went petless. I was one of those households. Currently, my mother has been in a 16 year long “discussion” with my step dad and brother that “it’s me or a dog”…we’ve yet to welcome a Husky into our home.

I say this only so you know the seriousness of our “No Pets Policy”.  I should say that somehow, around ’99, we acquired a brown bunny for Easter. I was told it was a FAMILY pet, but it was only ever me that cleaned her cage, walked her (yes, she had a leash), lovingly cuddled her, and carefully fed her (even when she got so mean she would attack anyone who went near her.) It was also me who cried her eyes out when we had to send her away to my aunt’s Rabbit Rehab, so she could live a more free life – which she never got to experience, as she had turned an irreversible hormonal corner, bit my cousin, and had to be sent to Bunny Heaven.

In 2012, me and my boyfriend at the time were moving into an apartment building that my company was renovating. During construction, doors and windows were left open, which allowed for all kinds of furry friends to visit. As we walked through the barren basement, I heard a noise that I couldn’t place. “What is that?” I asked. I started scanning the dark, empty rooms off of the hallway. The sounds got louder. “I think that’s a cat! But where the hell is it??” “Sarah, don’t move,” my partner said. I froze in a hunched stance. I looked at him, and he pointed up. I let my gaze follow his direction, and there, perched on some narrow pipes was the skinniest, cutest, loudest kitten I’d ever seen. “Oh my gosh! We have to save him!” So, off I went to grab a can of tuna, while my boyfriend assembled the necessary rescue tools. Once I got back, we coaxed the baby kitten onto a shovel where an open can of tuna was waiting, and then lowered him to safety. We played with him, fed him another can of tuna – which he happily devoured – and then tried to figure out what to do next. “First, we have to name him!” We decided on “Cinco”, in honor of the Cinco de Mayo holiday on which he was found.

Cinco proved to be very independent, and did not appreciate the cardboard house we made for him. He sprang out of the box, ran down the hall, and burrowed back into the hole in the wall, which had been his “home” for the past few weeks. No cans of tuna were luring him out this time. “We’ll come back to get him tomorrow and take him to a shelter,” my boyfriend said. So, the next morning, we went down into the basement and as soon as I started calling out “Cinco! Cinco!” the familiar little face scurried along the pipes and practically jumped into our arms!

Oh God, was I a cat person now??

We drove our beloved baby to the shelter, where we found out that “he” was actually a “she”. We filled out the paperwork, said our goodbyes, and left. We were heartbroken. “I’m just going to…uh…call and see if Cinco found a home…” my boyfriend would mumble, while he held the phone up to his ear. Day after day, she was still homeless. We finally decided that if we called the next day and she was still there, she was coming back home to be a part of our family. The following day, our hearts pounded as the shelter’s phone rang. “Calling about Cinco again?” the shelter volunteer laughed. “Well, you’re in luck.” My heart was bursting. She was ours! “She was just adopted today!” Our hope came crashing down, hard. My eyes welled up with tears as I mourned the loss of the pet that was never mine. “It’s OK, ” my boyfriend purred as he pet my head, “she’s off to a wonderful home where she’s going to be loved and grow up to be a happy little cat!” “But she was supposed to be our happy little cat!” I wailed. The sadness resurfaced the next day, when I saw her tiny paw prints in the dust of one of my storage spaces at work.

And now, the purpose of this long, gut-wrenching story. No, we didn’t go back to the shelter and rescue Cinco before her new owner could claim her. No, we didn’t go back to the shelter and adopt another happy little cat.

We went to Marshall’s and I picked out 2 new dresses for summer.

The point is: Once I found those printed maxi dresses, I felt better. Although they could never take the place of my sweet, sassy Cinco, they still brought me some joy. Retail Therapy is a real thing, at least for me. I’m willing to bet that half of my closet was gained through the devastating loss of a lover, cancelled plans with a fickle friend, or a disappointing call about the apartment that got leased out from under me.

So, here’s to the cats that become dresses, the missed brunches that become bracelets, and the missed hikes that become heels.


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