Local Schmocal: By ZoŽ Abel — Not only am I proud to pay the meals tax at many locally owned restaurants and coffee shops, I've also been doing some shopping down at the plaza.
I've been feeling pretty good about myself lately. In particular, I'm proud of the way I've been supporting the local economy. Not only am I proud to pay the meals tax at many locally owned restaurants and coffee shops, I've also been doing some shopping down at the plaza.
Shopping on the plaza isn't something I normally do. I love all the little shops down there, and I do my yearly Christmastime excursion through downtown with my sister with a regularity you could set a clock to, but generally there's just not much down there that I need. I like to look at kitchen gadgets, but as I don't cook, and I try my hardest not to clean, I can't usually justify buying myself any of those things. I also don't need pajamas, though they always look really nice in the window. Generally I just collapse into bed in my sweatpants after an evening of wearing myself out through a rigorous routine of snacking and watching "Grey's Anatomy."
Jewelry is gorgeous. I love it. I watch the bracelets on my sister's arm clink against each other and always wish I could pull it off. Unfortunately I lack the graceful limbs necessary for that. I lose rings, and I live in terror that my son will rip an earring right out of my head. I can already envision my two-pronged earlobe flapping in the breeze.
But while I was downtown on my post kindergarten drop-off coffee pilgrimage, I actually started to shop downtown. I bought myself a book, which made me feel pretty pleased with myself. It was a book I had been looking forward to, and I even got it at a discount because it was a best-seller. I went home and read the whole thing that very day. I'm not going to say what the book was — I tend to read fairly trashy books. That's why paying cash at a bookstore is better than using a library card: there's no proof. I'm sure America's counterterrorism unit would be thrilled to know that I've read, several times, a book chronicling a late night TV host's one-night stands. I'd also like to take this moment to send a brief apologetic thought toward my high school English teachers. Apparently I have never learned to appreciate The Great Works. My sister comes home for a visit and reads Anna Karenina; I reread the "Harry Potter" series.
After doing my part to support the local, independently owned bookstore, I took myself to Target (after all, I can only do so many good deeds at a time). I was disappointed to see the very book I had just bought and read and dog-eared beyond returnability was for sale a whole $5 cheaper than what I had just paid. I suddenly became a muttering, pacing, grumbling version of myself. I walked up and down in the aisle in front of the book. I felt like the book had been placed there as a personal affront to me. I sadly looked in my wallet and tried to imagine what it would look like with an extra Abraham Lincoln looking back up at me.
So now, as I ruefully do some online banking, I try to cheer myself up. It's not that I lack financial savvy, it's that I'm supporting my local economy. I don't shop at Shop'n Kart because it happens to be the closest grocery store to my house, I shop there because I'm doing the environmentally correct thing. I don't drink my coffee at The Roasting Company because it's just plain, good coffee, I drink there to stick one to the man up at Starbucks! Now excuse me while I go get myself some muffin pans, an organic cotton nightgown and some handcrafted jewelry, all to make myself feel better about paying an extra $5 for a book.
Zoë's dream is to have a book club dedicated to trashy novels. Contact her about this, or anything else, at email@example.com.