It's not something that I like to talk about. I've been one for as long as I, or anyone who knows me, can remember.
Nor is it something I take lightly. Never have I allowed things like a personal life, sorry financial state or need for fresh air interfere with my calling.
I am a professional shopper.
As such, I find myself compelled to yield to my natural urges and truck off to a mall -- any mall -- hoping to quell the rhythmic beckonings of huge, pricey department stores.
So naturally, today being a day like any other day, I headed off to one of my favorite haunts and that's when it hit me. Or rather, didn't hit me. It didn't happen all at once either, but gradually, as I surveyed the darkened corridors, or what seemed liked darkened corridors, of The Mall in Columbia.
There were no holiday shoppers,no decorations, no lights, no music, no nothing. Just your average bunch of shoppers. And you know what fun they can be.
I knew then Iwas suffering from a common ailment that afflicts many die-hards about this time of year. I am speaking of course, of PHPST -- Post-Holiday Professional Shopper's Trauma. (It's in all the books.)
What can I say? I miss the mobs. I miss the glitz. I even miss the parking congestion. But most of all, I miss the camaraderie. After all, what other activity is as bonding as waiting in line for 45 minutes with a fellow exhausted shopper to buy an electric plaque remover?
Here, you and this perfect stranger can complain together about slow sales clerks, ridiculously high prices and the horrors of shopping at this time of year.
God, how I love shopping at that time of year.
Not that I miss Bing Crosby singing his rendition of holiday hits. (Hey, even we fanatics have our limits.) But the departed costumed carolers and seasonal piped-in music have left a void in my shopping life.
I look back fondly on my last outing when the blisters on my feet brought me to my knees. But just one look at the quaint craft carts and I was revived. In an instant, I shot back "Visa" to the sales clerk, who, with her indelible smile intact, asked how I intended to pay for the deflatable living room set, batteries not included.
But all that is gone now. And I find it quite depressing. Shopping -- window and otherwise -- just doesn't have the same draw as it did a mere 10 days ago.
I know I'll get over it. I always do. After all, I am a professional.