It has been read into the record that I hate shopping (except for grocery). I only shop when I have something specific to buy and even then, I get in and out as quickly as humanly possible. I am a terrible conspicuous consumer.
That said, it's the season of gift giving, so I am forced to shop. Yes, I could do it online, but that wouldn't help the Richmond economy any, would it now? So I invited a favorite couple to join me for a stroll through Carytown to procure presents and end with some seasonal sipping.
And despite the hordes of people clogging the sidewalk in indecision about which way to walk, it turned into a pretty enjoyable afternoon. The leaden sky definitely gave a wintry vibe to it all (looks like snow, everyone was saying) and then there was the usual Carytown color.
We saw a bike strung with battery-powered lights, a purple poodle with red toenails, a three-piece accordion band (including sculptor and parade organizer Lily, who stopped mid-squeeze to throw her arms around me and say, "I love you, Karen!") and the decorated horse-drawn carriage clopping down Cary Street.
In River City Cellars was a dog in full Santa regalia sprawled in the center of the floor, his owners buying New Year's Eve dinner tickets for Secco (nearly sold out) while I bought a gift certificate for a beer geek friend.
At Bygones, the sales staff was fiddling with Internet radio in pursuit of Christmas music when suddenly the Smiths "There is a light that never goes out" burst forth. I was thrilled, as were a couple of those girls, although they acknowledged that should their boss walk in, they'd be in big trouble.
I offered to take the fall, promising to tell the owner I'd requested the Smiths while I shopped (I also found the red gloves of my dreams, but I wasn't shopping for me. Sigh).
At Chop Suey, we went upstairs to shop the Bizarre Market, finding several gifts there among all the handmade items crowded into that tiny space. When my friend went to pay with her debit card, she was amazed to see Bird swipe the card on her iPad ("Yea, it's crazy the apps you can get for these things!"). Interesting buying old-school artisan crafts using the latest 21st century technology.
After stops at Mongrel (a favorite DJ friend had somehow "lost" her 6'-plus boyfriend with the magnificent mutton chops) and Luxor (where I love to ogle dated labels: Julius Garfinckle & Co. Miller & Rhoads, Arden), I was over shopping.
My solution was to go to Can-Can for hot chocolate, easily the best in RVA, in my humble opinion. And since I don't drink coffee or hot tea, when I crave a warm drink, it's my only option.
I'd learned my lesson the last time though, and ordered the small rather than the large (which comes in a soup bowl-sized mug). Thick and tasting like a bowl of liquid chocolate, it made me forget that I was only there because I'd just spent hours (shudder) shopping. The fries didn't hurt, either.
By the time my sweet/salty snack was finished, it was starting to drizzle and time to head home, gifts procured and taste buds satisfied. If only I didn't have to do it again...the shopping part, I mean.