I grew up in an era where hanging at the mall was a regular weekend activity, and lingering in the food court was as natural as sampling lip gloss flavors in the department store. My sister and I would get double-scoop cones at the end of the day, and our mom would wonder out loud why we weren’t hungry for supper.

Then, I grew up, and moved on and away. I don’t currently live near any major, retail-therapy locations and that’s probably a good thing. At the very least, it’s saved me a ton of cash over the years. If you can’t shop, you can’t buy.

The internet has helped me cope with my non-mall access. Heck, the internet is like a mall on steroids. I can find anything and everything online, and I usually do. Thing is, I usually go looking for one item, purchase it and hopefully find a coupon code for free shipping, end of story.

The internet meets most of my needs, most of the time.

Occasionally, however, I have to venture down the road 20 miles or so to gain access to a real-live retail establishment located within the confines of a mall. When I do, I am bombarded by things so many pretty, shiny things.

These things are enticing. They glitter and sparkle, and seduce me with their newness. For a small price or a quick swipe of my plastic, they can come home with me and be mine, all mine, forever.

The more I look, the more I become convinced. I need these things. They would enhance my world in many wondrous ways. They would increase my happiness quotient and quality of life. They would make me look better, younger, thinner, more hip and cutting edge. These things would make my life complete. They are practically a requirement.

No matter that I wasn’t aware these things existed before entering the store, that I’ve lived my life without them, that I have something similar at home.

Facts like this don’t make a difference when confronted with the splash and lure of things. Besides, you can never have too many shoes, blankets, swimsuits, sunglasses, phone cases, toasters, pillows, cardigans or (fill in the blank here). You can never have too many things.

The prettiness of things combined with their vast quantities put the average shopper like me into overstimulation mode. I’m no longer able to think logically or make smart decisions. Spending lavishly suddenly seems the norm. Everyone else around me is doing it, so it must be rational.

I am tempted. I’ll readily admit that. But I also know the real life truths about impulse purchases. When I return home with things I never knew I needed, before I knew they existed when I saw them at the mall, their glitter has mysteriously disappeared. Things that were filled with allure in-store become blatantly less attractive and 82% less useful within 10 minutes of arriving at home. They become ordinary.

So, although it isn’t easy and I am not always successful, I back away from the jewelry rack and say “no” to the cute, succulent garden in home decor. As for the lip gloss counter, I don’t even go there.



Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. More columns are available at the Slices of Life page on Facebook.