“Get over yourself Lana. You can’t spend your life in the doldrums just because you haven’t got any money.”
Married to brothers, Moira and Lana were not only besties but were sisters-in-law too. Moira thought their lives were pretty good. The couples each had a son, both husbands had good jobs and provided an okay living for their families, and Lana and Moira could both be stay-at-home mums.
Lana had a problem. She was a shopaholic. It was as if she needed to spend. She believed her spending was both wise and necessary. She bought quality, and although quality was not cheap, she maintained, that because she only ever bought items that were on sale, her purchases were bargains. And besides, she needed them.
“Let’s make some Afghans.” Lana said as she picked up the coffee mugs the friends had just emptied. “Then another cuppa.”
Lana’s Afghans were the best. Her Belgium Biscuits weren’t too bad either.
“Okay, but while we make them, I’ve had an idea.”
“Oh yes, and what idea is that?” Moira was full of ideas.
As Lana gathered the ingredients, Moira shared her thoughts.
“Well, you are a shopaholic, right? I would love to be a shopaholic too...”
“Sure.” Lana droned her interjection.
“...yes, I would, but I can’t spend what I haven’t got. So, I’m not.” Moira continued.
“What do you mean, what you haven’t got? You always have money when you need it; like for Timmy’s school stuff, for the power bill and whatever.”
“Yes, but that is because I put money away knowing that I will have to pay those things when they come due. I don’t have to worry that way. But it does mean that I don’t spare money very often. We save for the things we need, and shop around for them once we have the money. You would be amazed how cash-in-hand talks. We usually go home with change. But you know that.
Anyway, as I was saying, I would love to be a shopaholic. If I had the money. I don’t, so I’m not. And, I don’t have a credit card bill like someone I know. Aye?”
Lana humpfed, she was ready to add the corn flakes to the Afghan mixture and Moira had the tray floured and buttered, ready for the cookies.
“What are you doing tomorrow after you drop David off at school?”
“Nothing planned for tomorrow.” Lana answered as she flattened the balls of cookie dough with a fork dipped in a little flour.
“Okay, so what say, we dress up, take an imaginary $5,000 and have an imaginary spend up?”
Lana was quiet for a moment. She looked at Moira with an odd expression. She lifted the tray into the oven and Moira closed the oven door. 15 minutes and the Afghans would be ready. Yum. Enough time to make the icing, crack some walnuts and put the jug on to boil.
“You know what? I think that would be awesome. We could spend it on anything we liked?”
“Yep. I’ll grab a notebook each. Got heaps at home. And we record everything we would buy? Let’s see what we could buy, aye? I have enough real money to buy lunch.”
“Actually, I still have the two vouchers we got the last time we went to Pizza Hutt, when they didn’t make the pizzas on time. Remember? They had a guarantee that they would have the pizzas made within a set time...and they didn’t?”
“Even better.” Moira said. “I can get coffee.” Lana was tinny like that.
The girls ate their Afghans while they were warm and the chocolate icing dripped through their fingers. Always fun slurping it off after the cookie was gone.
After dropping the boys off at school, next morning, the girls headed into the city. All Kiwis knew that Sydney City was the place for shopping.
“I am so looking forward to this.” Lana gushed. She had a broad grin on her fully made up face.
“Me too.” Moira added. Not a scrap of make up in sight. She wore her best dress.
Lana was in heels. Moira wore flats...she wasn’t silly. Didn’t shopaholics walk their feet off.
Armed with notebooks and pencils, stashed in their bags, the girls hit the first shopping complex for the day. The Queen Victoria Building, a heritage listed building, on George Street, designed by George McRae in the late-nineteenth-century. It was a beautiful building. As beautiful as any in London or Europe.
“Okay, so I want to go to Alannah Hill,” Lana grabbed Moira's hand and dragged her to the Level one shop. “I saw a couple of dresses to die for on an ad. They're having a sale.”
Moira looked around, her eyes as big as saucers. “Oh, my goodness, I didn’t know this store existed. I love the clothes here. Look at the colours.”
Lana started sorting through a rack of dresses. Finding the two she was looking for; she took one of each in her size and headed for the changing room. "Don’t wander too far, I want you to tell me what you think.”
Moira took her time. She found a dress she liked and a cardigan to go with it. She held them up to the assistant and pointed to the changing rooms. She was rewarded with a nod and a smile.
“So, what do you think?” Lana pirouetted as she came out of her cubicle.
Moira had just come out too. “Nice.” She said as she reached to tuck a piece of bodice lining back inside the neck line. “What about mine?” as she held out the skirt and curtsied.
Lana did another pirouette in front of the store mirror before stopping to look. “That’s nice. I haven’t seen you in a short dress for a while. Sexy knees.” She said as she flitted back into the cubicle.
“I like the cardigan with it.” said the assistant. “Here, try this one. I think you’ll like it.’ She handed Moira a dress in similar colours but in a different style.
Moira could feel her face heating up. She was a little embarrassed that this was a pretense. She accepted the dress. “Thank you.”
“This is beautiful.” Moira smiled at the assistant as she came out for a better look. “It is a much nicer fit than the first one.” She turned to the left and then turned to the right in front of the mirror. Tom would love this she thought.
Lana came out in the other dress. That looked good too.
“Far out Lana. You look good in anything you try on.” She was statuesque and slim. Moira wasn’t exactly dumpy but she was curvy. Lana grinned.
Both girls came out of their cubicles wearing their own clothes at the same time.
“I would really love to buy this,” Moira told the assistant a little self consciously, “I might come back later.”
“Thank you.” Lana left her items on the counter.
The shop assistant’s smile wasn’t quite as brilliant.
Outside the store the girls made their first entry into their notebooks. They were off to a great start.
“I really loved the second dress I tried on. I felt beautiful. I liked the cardigan too.” Moira said as she noted the items and their prices.
“I would have bought both the dresses I tried on if I had had real money.” Lana admitted.
“Let’s go up to the Aboriginal Art Galleries on Level Two.” Moira turned back to Lana who had stopped to look in a window.
“An Art Gallery?” Lana said with a hint of disdain. “I didn’t know you were into art.”
“I’ve never had money for art. I have today. Come on.” Moira dragged a reluctant Lana into the gallery.
“Look at this. I love Dulcie Nanala’s work. This is beautiful. $980. Wow...not cheap. But you know what? If I had $5000 to spend on anything I liked. I would definitely buy this.” Moira added this painting to her list. She had now spent $1,144. Okay, now for Tom. “You ready to leave. Let’s see what Menswear stores they have here.”
Lana perked up. “We could always get the boys some Calvin Klein undies.”
“There’s also Country Road. I love their women’s clothes but they do men and kids too.” Moira pointed across the way.
After hitting several more stores, Lana’s feet were killing her. Every step of their journey was sketched on her face. Time for a coffee stop.
“Far out. I have spent $3,698. This is awesome. I haven’t had so much fun in ages. How about you? How much have you spent?”
Lana took a sip of her coffee. She pushed her bottom lip up and over her top lip. She sucked in and puffed out her cheeks. Reading from her notebook, “$675.”
“What? Surely, you’ve spent more than that. You're the shopaholic, not me.” Moira was surprised.
“Hmm. Haven’t really seen anything I want.” Lana pouted.
“I saw some really cute boots in Anne Fontaine’s when we came out of Hobby Co. The boys are going to love those models. You like shoes and boots. I haven’t had a new pair for years.” Moira led the way. She was really getting into this. It was awesome being an imaginary shopaholic.
After trying on the cute boots, and three other pairs, Moira made her choice. “Thank you.” She called to the assistant as she and Lana left the store.
“Chick, what’s up?” Lana was not a happy camper.
“Let’s go home.” she said almost in a whisper.
Moira felt a bit sick. She was having such a good time she hadn’t really paid attention to her friend.
Back in the car as they headed home, Lana opened up. “God, I hated that.”
“All that money that I didn’t have. All that stuff I couldn’t buy. It sucked.”
“Really? Ah, I see. Well, I’m sorry you had such a rotten time. But, guess what? I have had a ball. I know I didn’t really buy anything but man, I felt rich. Look at all the stuff I imaginarily bought. A dress and matching cardigan; a beautiful piece of art work, a suit, shirt, tie and shoes for Tom; a new outfit for Timmy, cool models for Timmy and David to make up with their dads; luggage; a three day cruise for Tom and I; two pairs of boots for me; and, I bought that bag you spotted in Furla, for you. And, I still have $296.”
“I’m sorry. I’m glad you had a good time. It’s just that I could see all that beautiful stuff and I couldn’t buy it. I literally felt ill.”
“Far out, Lana, suck it up. I thought you would have had a ball. This was supposed to cheer you up. Instead it’s made you worse. I have to say, you are being a spoiled brat. Lucky, I love you anyway. Let’s go and have those mini pizzas. You know, you are the only person I know who can get us cool lunches for free. And, they, are not imaginary.”
“I can, aye?”
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I liked reading the story. The way Moire helps / tortures Lana is quite ambiguous. PS: I'm from Belgium and I've never heard of "Belgium Biscuits" (just like I was surprised to see a "Belgian waffle" the first time I was in the US: there's nothing Belgian about it). I had to Google to find out what they looked like. I expected something like Speculoos aka Biscoff ;-)