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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic

It’s taken me almost a week to sit down and write something about Confessions of a Shopaholic because I’ve been extremely busy. I have a lot of problems as most of you know, and they take a lot of time to address. Mondays and Thursdays I see my therapist, and on Monday evenings I attend my nine step meeting for compulsive spending. I know you are thinking “Nine steps? Isn’t it supposed to be twelve steps?” and the answer is yes, it should be, but we are a weak group, and we’ve cut out three steps. Okay, actually we cut out ten steps and kept two of the original twelve then added seven before we gave up because we like to end our meetings by seven p.m. so we can all adjourn to Macy’s for group ‘retail therapy’ before the store closes at nine. On Tuesdays, I begin the day going to Friendly’s for my Overeaters Anonymous meeting breakfast. We usually linger after our pancakes and bacon, talking for hours, right into the lunchtime menu, which is kind of embarrassing because by then we almost have to order lunch since we’ve held the tables for so long. Besides, who can resist their Cheddar Jack Chicken Basket? Of course, having had the waitress give us dirty looks for sitting there for four-and-a-half hours, I inevitably get an anxiety attack and need to rush off to my Anxiety Support Yoga Group as soon as I finish my dessert sundae. That takes hours, as you can imagine, what with all the heavy breathing, and “letting go” involved, not to mention just getting everybody into their yoga wear. This usually involves a bunch of corpulent women in Spandex wrestling with the idea of stress relief by lying on their backs and bringing their knees to their chests. It looks and sounds a lot like an army of Roseannes trying to give birth simultaneously. By the time I’ve finished with all this I’m just too tired to think of anything except swinging by the mall for an hour or so to blow off some steam with a little recreational shopping before going home to dinner.

Wednesday I really was committed to sitting down to tell you how much fun I had at
of a Shopaholic when my friend Shyvia called and whispered five words that could not be denied: “Dress Barn, Half Price Sale.” My hands went cold. My head broke out in beads of cold perspiration. “Thirty minutes.” I responded before hanging up. I gripped my Visa cards so hard in my hand that I cut my index finger until it bled, but I didn’t care. To me, bloodletting is part of the ritual in becoming a real shopper. You’ve got to be willing and ready to spill a little and shed a lot for an exclusive Umberto Fabrizini pure cashmere mock turtleneck direct from Milan and only available at Clay’s. I’ll admit it, I’ve done my fair share of community service for bitch-slapping a grabby goose now and again, but it’s all been worth it when I’ve been able to show up in court in a classic Karl Lagerfeld with matching Pucci bag and shoes in spite of my nemesis’ best efforts to get hold of all three. Ha! I look at it like this: afternoons picking up litter for a month by the side of the road are nothing but a good time to work on my tan so I’ll look all the better for my August White Party. As for her injuries, those stitches are going to barely leave a scar, or, if they do, she can always wear bangs, which, frankly would be more attractive on her anyway considering her pie-shaped beach ball-sized head (which, I might add, would never look good on any Lagerfeld original).

Finally, today (Thursday), despite my exhaustion from my day with Shyvia (which eventually led to a
sweep through Fashion Bug, J.C. Penney, the Bon Ton, and about a half-dozen boutique stores at the University Mall), I am going to try, Dear Readers, to unfold my arthritic fingers, so stiff from carrying the dozens of shopping bags of great sale items I’ve snagged in the last few days to tell you that I did, indeed, go see that trifle of a movie called Confessions of a Shopaholic this week, and I thought it was cute, if terribly unrealistic. I mean, really, please. How shallow does Hollywood think some people can be? Outside of Beverly Hills and Bel Air I mean. Scriptwriters Tracey Jackson (The Other End of the Line), Tim Firth (Kinky Boots), and newbie Kayla Alpert would have us think that their heroine, Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher; Definitely, Maybe), has no self-control as she blows throw nine grand in credit card spending in a month’s time without seeming to grasp the concept that she’s going to get a bill for this all this stuff she’s been buying. Suddenly, her way-too-understanding roommate, Mother Teresa, er, I mean Suze (Krysten Ritter; 27 Dresses) breaks the awful truth to her and I couldn’t help but wonder how it is that Rebecca had this crisis happen all in the course of 30 days. Did she just wake up one day with a purse full of plastic for the first time in her life? Did a former “Sugar Daddy” now out of the picture (literally) quit paying for everything when she quit putting out everything? Did she get hit on the head and develop an overnight bingeing mentality that forced her to buy like never before? None of this really makes sense because I’d expect if she was anything like me she’d be used to ‘the first and fifteenth syndrome.’ Oh, and if any man ever overhears you mention it and asks, just tell him you thought it was some kind of football terminology and then shrug. Don’t let him know that the first and fifteenth syndrome is in reference to those times of the month when the bills arrive in the mail, so this also correlates to those times of the month that it is imperative that a) you meet your postal carrier religiously every day of that particular week to intercept the mail before your male equivalent gets hold of it, b) insist you need the checkbook during that week and then pay the minimums and send those bills off before your hubby sees squat, and then c) distract him with a little bit of what he begs for night after night and you swear gives you a headache ~ that’s right, surprise him with a big bowl of ice cream now and again so he won’t be tempted to ask you for the other thing he begs for night after night and really gives you a headache. But I digress.

Anyway, Rebecca, in a panic, finds herself in need of an immediate job, and God Forbid she
should get something she might be qualified for, like as night shift cashier at Arby’s, so instead she shoots for something completely out of her reach, and applies for a position as a writer for a high-end fashion magazine. Seriously. Uh-huh. I guess she felt there wasn’t time to push President Obama aside, so she settles for second best. Well, by a series of bizarre ‘what-the-hells’ Rebecca ends up being offered a job writing for a Finance magazine instead, explaining the ins-and-outs of responsible credit usage to the common man and woman in layman’s lingo. This isn’t bad for someone who has to “Google” the word ‘finance’ to know exactly what the term means.

Suddenly Rebecca becomes a huge media sensation and the toast of financial bigwigs and Wall Street tycoons everywhere. Her boss, Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy; Adam), isn’t overly surprised, but Rebecca can’t believe her own good fortune. Now, if only he will fall in love with her and this suddenly obsessed debt collector named Derek Smeath (Robert Stanton; Gigantic) will just get off her back before anyone finds out she is a complete fraud when it comes to knowing how to manage money. But, hey, every story needs a little complication to keep it interesting.

Do you smell an obvious betrayal and rescue in the wings? Is this a good time for Rebecca’s parents, played by the terribly underused and always delightful John Goodman (Speed Racer) and Joan Cusack (
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl), to drop in and add a few quirky if loving moments? Or for Wendie Malick (Eavesdrop) to show up to do her absolute best impersonation of an SS Officer leading a 12 step program Rebecca agrees to attend as a last ditch effort to get her spending habits under control. Honey, it would be easier to put an ad on Craig’s List and marry an illegal alien so he can get a green card and then saddle him with at least half your debt. You do that three or four times and I’m sure you can whittle down whatever you owe, and you’ll probably get enough in alimony to keep up the payments on your Saks card in the process too.

Would I recommend Confessions of a Shopaholic? Oh, I suppose so, but only as a complete and silly fairy tale. Isla Fisher is a cutie and pulls off a commendable American accent (Are there any Americans playing Americans in American films anymore?) Hugh Dancy is also bootalicious as her stuffed shirt but secretly ri¢h bo$$ who also happens to have more than just professional interests in her. Confessions of a Shopaholic is a cute enough love story, but it isn’t exactly going to satisfy a true shopaholic’s habit. There’s barely a Christian Siriano to be seen, much less an Atelier Versace, but other than that, it’ll do for the novice with an itch for the plastic and a taste for some romantic comedy.

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