We Hate Shopping – Honoring Brian at 50

zb brian and iThis is the countdown to March 17, and a happy 50th to my brother, Brian, the best brother anyone could ever want in the whole world.  By the way, I am writing these for the most part back-to-back.  If you see me hoisting a Guinness or a Crown in his honor, yes, I’m aware these publish at 0600 EST and I’m not actually sneaking one in at work.

So, I’ve been a little sweet and funny and reminiscent and from the reports, made a few of you cry. And so we move on- more snark, less of that mushy stuff.

For all the ladies in our lives, past, present, and future, there’s a little something about the two of us that endears us to you (tongue planted firmly in cheek). Brian and I both HATE to shop. H.A.T.E. to shop.

Me personally, I would rather suck-start a shotgun than shop. And have considered it as well, while they are trying stuff on, and poring over colors, and debating accessories…

So, Mom used to drag Brian and I, and in due time, Colleen, shopping. To fabric stores, to King’s, and anywhere else in between.  Of course, we have to start at the Sears in Norristown.

Years ago, there was a decent sized Sears store in Norristown.  I thought in my later years I remembered reading Dante’s Inferno and seeing Sears’ Norristown store as either the fourth or fifth circle of Hell, but I can’t remember which. While I’m pretty positive we didn’t go there every other day, it SEEMS like we went there every other day. It’s kind of like the difference between five minutes and five minutes underwater.  Right off the bat, I to this day do not have a good explanation for it, but there was ALWAYS this high-pitched, almost-imperceptible squealing droning noise in that building.  It was annoying, it was baffling, and it was omnipresent. It’s what they heard in that house in Amityville that caused them to go apeshit.

And there was a vacuum cleaner display that fascinated Brian and I, so of course, we had to always go fuck with it (yes, I used that term, and you’ll see why). The alternative was trying on clothes, so anything was better (go back to shotgun idea). They had this beach ball that was perpetually kept in the air with the outflow of a vacuum. This was the Sears version of the Perpetual Flame.  I know this because years later I was dragged into that store before it was shut down and there it was…the same display.  Same ball. Probably same vacuum cleaner and salesman too. Much to the displeasure of the Sears staff, and while Mom shopped blissfully unaware, Brian and I conducted every variable on Bernoulli’s Principle until they were literally looking for her to turn us over a knee for some real punishment. The only thing I can ever say positive about those trips were those fruit candy slices she would bribe us with afterward. We were never good, so I guess it was just a reward for endurance.

Another mind-numbing shopping experience was going to fabric stores. Mom liked to sew (probably because Dad was cheap or we were poor, take your pick) so again, we would be dragged kicking and screaming to the fabric store. If you think Sears was bad, think again. There wasn’t even a physics-defying ball there to keep us entertained. While there was no whisper of Satan like in Sears, you might as well have put a big ziplock bag over your head and add two angry wasps to it to echo the amount of pent-up energy Brian and I had when faced with that experience.  Given the choice of waterboarding and fabric stores, strap my ass in and turn on the hose, dammit. Pretty sure before there was PTSD, there were fabric stores, and we were permanently scarred.

As we grew older, and our friends became more style conscious, we of course took the diametrically opposite path.  Up in Quakertown was found a Sears Outlet. Yes, really… how bad is it when you can find a cheap-ass outlet for cheap-ass clothes? The next best thing, really, would have been simply, yes… generic clothes. You know- because we shopped there too- that 1970s thing that predated Sam’s or Costco? A warehouse full of government cheese, clothes, beer, and cigarettes, all in basic black and white (with no bags- bring your own box).

I am horrified to show the pictures of my brother and I in 1970s polyester, wide-collar, off-color clothes. And terry cloth. Ugh. Elton John himself would have been horrified at our fashion ensembles. In his baby-blue three-piece suit, my brother was conservative in his styling. Me, always the ENTJ, I was in brown with orange-faux-suede platforms and long hair.  Thank God this was back when photography cost an arm and a leg, there are mercifully few pictures. They exist, but I’m pretty sure we have burned most of them.

We continue to share the horror of those times, and they were much simpler then, but as I have said before, I’m blessed to have shared them with my brother.

Here’s to you, Bri-Guy, from the Hamburger Dude (hoisting my drink). This is the countdown to March 17, and a happy 50th to my brother, Brian, one year and three days younger, and easily the best brother anyone could ever want in the whole world.

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