Monday, June 20, 2011


When it comes to shopping, I demand immediate gratification.

We live in the age of internet commerce, and you'd think someone as lazy as me would love it. The prospect of walking five steps from my couch to my computer sounds a heck of a lot better than an afternoon spent tromping through the mall. Too bad, then, that I just can't buy something without immediately possessing it.

Some people like to comparison shop for the best deals. Not me. If I take that much time, the yucky voice in my brain -- you know, the smart, mature, and thrifty one -- starts invading my inner monologue with such awful thoughts as "you don't really need this" and "you really can't afford this." I've found it's MUCH better to surprise your Inner Responsibility with a well-timed strategy of impulse shopping and credit cards. At the end of the day, you might end up broke -- but at least you'll have a brand new Blu-Ray player to pass the time until the repo man comes.

The same goes for e-shopping. If I needed new underwear, I could quite easily hop on my computer, go to, and have bountiful amounts of skivvies delivered to my door in 7-10 days. But you know what happens when I get up from that computer? I'll still be wearing ratty undies for 7-10 days. E-commerce sucks the fun out of the quintessential shopping experience: Want -> Buy -> Have. It should NEVER be Want -> Buy -> 7-10 days of yearning mixed with a healthy dose of fiscal regret. Every time you click that "buy" button, it's like being a kid on December 15th and knowing there's an interminable 10-day wait until Christmas.

My girlfriend Amy is one of those annoying smart shopper types. She researches her purchases, clips coupons, makes lists and checks them twice. She'll walk in with bulging bags of new purchases under each arm and I'll be tempted to give her grief for over-spending when she'll proudly announce that she spent less than $20 on the whole pile. She claims I'm the one who needs the occasional lecture on over-spending, which might have filaments of truth were it not so darn fun. Take last weekend for instance.

It was Friday night, and we had just pulled into my garage. As I opened the door, I caught the most magical scent in the world wafting our way. Neighbor Russ was grilling out, and it couldn't have smelled better. I was making excuses to linger in the back yard, mouth watering -- and did I mention that we'd JUST returned with full bellies from dinner ourselves?

So when Amy asked me what we should do with our weekend, I didn't even have to breathe. "LETSGOBUYAGRILLANDGRILLOUTANDEATGRILLEDFOODANDITWILLBEGOOD!"

Neighbor Russ didn't give up any of his chicken wings, but he DID tell me that he saw a great deal on grills at a local grocery store, so that's where I pulled Amy.

"Let's take a look at the features," Amy said.

I already had: (a) It was silver, (b) it was shiny, and (c) it looked awesome.

"We should go home and do some research and see if this is the best grill for the money," said Amy. At least that's what I assumed she said. I was already on my way to the checkout line.

Five minutes later, I was proudly marching outside with my new grill. Well, okay, more like proudly sweating and grunting and almost killing an innocent family while precariously balancing a giant box on a less-than-giant dolly. That's when I got to my car and realized the first bump in the road of this impulse buy. Some thirteen years ago, I decided a Volkswagen Beetle would be a neat impulse buy. I love my car, but of the many things it's known for, space isn't one of them. One look at the box, then one look at the car, and then one ache to the head because this grill wasn't coming home in the Wonderbug.

Ever want to confuse a grocery store clerk? Buy a huge grill, then ask for a dolly to get it to your car, lug it all the way outside, then lug it BACK and tell them to keep an eye on it while you go get a bigger car. Amy's car was a tight fit, but we eventually got it loaded.

"We should go to your house and see what we need to assemble this thing," Amy said. Or maybe she didn't. I dunno. I was too busy calling up all of my friends.


Ever want to REALLY confuse a grocery store clerk? Buy a grill, leave with it, come back with it, leave with it again, then come back WITHOUT it. Next thing I knew, I was running down aisles grabbing anything grillable. Hamburgers, veggie burgers, brats, corn on the cob -- a smorgasbord of flavor just waiting to be charred and carcinogized.

Then I opened the box. Rather, once all my hungry friends were pulling up, I opened the box. It turns out that grills do not simply pop out of the box pre-assembled. It also turns out that it was a bad move to NOT have ever impulse-bought a course in Mandarin Chinese. With boxes inside boxes handily marked in hand-written Chinese, this thing was the Rubik's Cube of grills. While Friend Jason and I were on hands and knees staring at an incomprehensible array of tiny grill parts, Amy called her dad.

Within ten minutes, he was over, toolbox in hand. Within twenty minutes, parts weren't fitting right. Within thirty minutes, he was asking if Amy was out of earshot so he could appropriately curse. Within forty minutes, we had given up for the night. And within thirty minutes or less after that, dinner was served -- thanks to Domino's.

So maybe it's possible to be a TAD bit too impulsive sometimes. But this story doesn't end with pizza. Amy's dad was back over at the crack of dawn, and by the time I was even awake, my dream of a shiny new fancy grill was a reality. My friends might not have come back the next night, but it was okay -- more food for me. And when Amy's little sister told me that she was eating "the best corn of her life," I swear I almost started crying.

So, unless you're immune to the heavenly smell of cinged meat, you might want to give my house a wide berth this week. I'm going non-stop until I run out of propane or stomach room, whichever happens first.

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