I have a friend who says that in NYC, there is $40 tax on leaving your apartment.  Her theory is that it’s near impossible to leave and come back without spending at least $40.  I think she is almost right – the one potential flaw being that $40 is too low.  Or maybe it’s just me – perhaps I have an insatiable need to get things. 

How terrifying.  An addiction to purchasing. 

Today I needed to find out if that was true.  Do I really have an obsessive need to buy things for the sake of buying?  Inquiring minds want to know if acquiring minds need to buy.

So I was out running errands.  Nothing unusual about that, it’s Sunday in the City, after all.  I had a very tight list of things I needed to get, and I was curious how many times I would be tempted to go off list.  In the course of the errand running, I paid slight attention to my purchase urges…not judging them, just observing them (how Buddhist zen of me).  Below is a summary of what crossed my mind as I walked home:

– "Perhaps I should go into Banana.  After all I have gift cards from there and I get bonus points if I make a purchase in my birthday month!"  Walked on by.  Thou shalt not be such an obvious marketing sucker. (me: 1; buying demon me: 0)

– In Sephora buying hair gel (does not qualify as frivolous purchase – I use it every day and it’s been on the approved "need to buy" list for more than a week now).  However, standing in line temptation abounds!  Cut to scene in line: "Oh how interesting, chardonnay skin smoother?  Odd but could be refreshing.  And smell this yummy perfume.  And I am going on a trip tomorrow, don’t I need more mini shampoo?"  Argh!  Many near misses!  I was surrounded, but made it out OK.  Bought only hair gel and felt most proud of unwavering self control. (me: 2; buying demon me: 0)

– "Oh, we would love to have a bottle of wine tonight!  And Warehouse Liquors is right here.  We have wine at home but those are really for dinner parties…perhaps a cheaper bottle just for us."  What am I thinking?  Just because it’s a Sunday night do I really need to consume half a bottle of wine?  (me: 3; buying demon me: 0)

– "I love Shakespeare Books…maybe I will just wander…" STOP!  Absolutely not.  Stopped in front and made very dramatic turn away from the door.  I buy more books than I read – not a good trend!  (me: 4; buying demon me: 0)

– And last but not least, my new obsession with peonies: "My god aren’t they stunning!  Just look at them!  And I have the perfect vase for them.  They would look fabulous on my table.  $4 a stem or $10 for 3…"  Did she make it?  YES!  My cool head prevailed and I walked away flower free!  I do so love them but given that I am leaving tomorrow on a business trip I would not really appreciate them.  And fabulous fiance would be of course appreciative but let’s face it, peonies are girly.  Besides, my cats would eat them and barf everywhere, leaving said fiance with mess to clean up.  (me: 5; fiance 1; non-barfing cats 1; buying demon me: 0)

All in all a success but I was amazed at how often my mind wandered into the land of retail therapy, marketing victim hell and money wasting cat killer.  There were other temptations besides those listed above…fruit smoothies, magazines, shoes, small fun jewelry stores, a plant in a very fun vase, cat leashes, manicures, don’t even get me started on Dean and Deluca!  Best to stay inside sometimes and not even tempt the tax…of course, there is always Internet shopping…