When I decided last year that enough was enough and that my debt needed to go far, far away, I wasn’t sure exactly how I would (or could) get its bags packed and put it on the bus… I mean, I have needs, and wants. I’m a human being after all, desire is one of the seven great things about being such. I mean, with my robot friends, it’s all altruism all the time. They’re good guys but not so much fun when wanting to go on a spending bender.
Now, I know my robot friends, with their mathematical minds, can balance their books like nobody’s business, but us humans aren’t so lucky. We’re prone to impulsiveness and greed, and as a result sometimes we dip into the bad places, the debt reserves, all in the vain to make us feel better in the short term. Robots don’t know what it’s like to feel better, or to feel at all, so they don’t get the idea of a spending bender, it makes no sense to them.
Since I know they’re reading, dear robot friends, let me define “spending bender” for you… it’s when you go out and blow a large chunk of money on things you don’t really need that give you simple satisfaction for a few hours, and after your high wears off regret truly kicks in. Most spending benders involve dispensing of cash which you cannot afford to relieve yourself of, or heading deeper into debt justifying to yourself why it’s okay to do so.
Most spending benders take place when us humans are either a) upset or b) bored. Sometimes nothing relieves heartache or an unsatisfactory workday or a pathetic life or sexual frustration like a good old shopping spree. I’ve been there, I know. This past Monday (and Tuesday) for instance, work was unchallenging, mildly annoying, and at times boring. Monday and Tuesdays are the days the wife and I stay at work an extra 90 minutes to make up for the other days when we might leave a half hour early, and that extra 90 minutes, especially on a slow or annoying day can really detach the mind, causing it to explore random thoughts like “I wonder what DVDs came out this week” or “I think I need new shoes”. This is the type of thinking that leads homo sapiens to spending benders, since our pink, meaty mind is in a mood that’s receptive to spending money. When the workday is finally through, instead of going home and making a meal, exercising and watching a reality tv programme like most humans would, (or, leaving the workplace for your storage container, plugging yourself in and putting yourself on standby for the evening, as you electronic beings would) one leaves work for the busy downtown streets and malls of Toronto to “look for nothing in particular”, except to say there’s some money in that pocket there that’s causing a rash, if only metaphorically.
But there is a cure to the spending bender, dear robot friends, it’s called willpower. I know you know nothing of the will, but just download yourself forty year’s worth of Green Lantern comics and it’ll all make sense to you. I had to employ willpower this week, for the itch was there and I could not scratch it. On Monday, the worst day of the week (since new DVDs and CDs come out on Tuesday, new comics on Wednesday and new movies on Friday, nothing happens on Monday), the itch was the strongest it’s been since last November. Christmas tends to take care of the shopping itch rather handily. Anyway, the wife needing to buy the stepson a new pair of track pants was coerced into going to the Eaton’s Center to do so, and in the process I decided to look at toys for the little guy, and for myself. Now the wife and I have decided not to buy him any more toys for a while since his birthday came not long after Christmas and the kids up to his neck in Thomas, Cars, Mega Blocks, stuffed animals, and other things. But I’ve gotten into playing with the Matchbox Mega Rigs he was given over the past two occasions, and I love them I think as much as he does. Having spied a couple more sets he doesn’t have on Monday, I was so so so tempted to buy them, as much for me as him. Two things saved me 1) having left all my credit cards at home and 2) having no money in my bank account since it’s all gone on debt. My lovely wife, thankfully, was resistant to my coercion tactics and we left the mall with but some clothes for the child.
Tuesday, a different matter though, with new release Tuesday hitting and the wife wanting to buy the new Justice League: The New Frontier DVD. Well, she didn’t necessarily want to buy it on new release Tuesday, and thus she did succumb to my coercing then. We made our way to the Future Shop, where I had a $50 gift card (received from the in-laws at Christmas) and was searching for the new They Might Be Giants album Here Come The 1, 2, 3s, which wouldn’t be a break in the BNY moratorium on CD buying since it would be for the wee one moreso than for me (he loves No! and Here Come The A, B, Cs, the Giant’s previous albums which makes me happy… you don’t know what that feels like, do you robots?). Well the Future Shop sucks for selection and didn’t have it, and with the urge to spend-bend building over the two-day span, I had to buy something, so I snatched The New Frontier from Aden’s hands and said the gift card would take care of it (calculating in my head whether I’d have enough for Frisky Dingo, out later this March… I do). After departing the store, a little frustrated but also a little jazzed from the “purchase”, I asked Aden if we could go into HMV next door (just to see if they had TMBG), the most enabling store in town for a pop culture junkie. I hadn’t been in an HMV, nevermind the Yonge Street mecca since BNY began, and I got weak knees and the junkie shakes the second I stepped in the door. There it was… Flight of the Conchords (the TV on DVD I meant to buy before BNY started), finally in Canada, and it was everywhere… Aden ignored my whimpering and went off in search of Dylan, while I tortured myself perusing the aisles, looking at the miraculous 2/$25 and 2/$30 DVD deals, seeing CD after CD of things I’d totally dig, and just having a general good-thing-I-left-my-credit-cards-at-home meltdown. After nearly an hour of this self-torture (and noticing that Here Come The 1, 2, 3s was more expensive than on Amazon, we left, Aden with her booty of two 2-disc Dylan sets and me empty handed (and no further into debt). That, my robot compatriots, was a spending bender averted.
Let’s just say, I’m going to be staying away from HMV for a long, long while. I can walk down the snack food aisle and ignore things quite easily (okay, maybe not that easily… another thing you don’t understand, my robo-amigos, hunger, flavour, food cravings…) but being surrounded by colourful covers and vibrant sales tags makes me weak in the wallet. Now that the Ikea 6-month shopping boycott ends this week, I can replace that with a (an?) HMV boycott. Probably for the best.