Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Analysis of Purchase

One day at the store I urged a family of aged Ukrainians who were buying the store out of its entire supply of citrus fruits to go ahead of me in line. They were really old and did not entirely speak English, and it seemed a good thing to do. As a consequence, they offered to have me join them at home for what one can only imagine was one hell of a fruit cocktail. Actually they gave the impression that they wished to adopt me in some way just on the evidence of one good deed.
This is an example of my pastime of trying to figure how the items chosen by others fit into their lives, and whether this tells me anything about them. I may have to found a school of psychiatry on this analysis of purchase. At the very least, it can be no more harmful or less accurate than the casting of bones.
Often I find myself in line behind a person with 8 loaves of white bread, dog food, cheese curls and sardines. You do the math, this is not typical, and seems like just picking up odds and ends, and that is probably all that it is, but in other cases, it seems like I have been behind someone provisioning a lost boys’ home, or dateless girl binge evening, or something imminently more disastrous. One has only to be observant, and imaginative to turn a mundane chore into a psychological survey.
Last night, a friend of mine told me he had been to some kind of therapy called excer-dynamics or something of the kind. It involved holding strenuous physical positions while talking about your problems. So Dan sat against the wall without benefit of a chair for so long that the therapist had to remark on it. Dan replied that it is a ski exercise and that he is a ski instructor. You think he could have asked you? I wondered aloud. Dan said he felt better, but on the way home had a few cocktails, and so when he called me at 12A.M. I had questions on the efficacy of the therapy. Perhaps if I were to go to the grocery store with him we could clear up all of his problems.

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