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I don’t like shopping. These signs from a hotel in Germany think I must, but never mind: I don’t like it.

What I really don’t like is getting dressed. I would exercise a lot more often if that didn’t require a change of clothes. I get dressed in the morning out of necessity and I just don’t want to think about it again once I do. Shopping for clothes is one big Groundhog-Day-like repeat of getting dressed over and over again, in a tiny room more claustrophobic than an elevator, into clothes that I don’t yet know will fit or look good. I do it once every couple of years, buy piles of clothes then live off the spoils for many months, like hunting a mammoth to feed a village for a whole winter.

That time has come again. And it…wasn’t so bad! THANK YOU, MARKS AND SPENCER. Why do I love M&S so much?

1) Their clothes go up to my size and beyond. No plus-sized ghetto. I can shop at all the racks.

2) Their clothes are consistently sized. I had my kids with me, so I decided to try things on at home and later return what didn’t fit. Guess what? Literally ALL OF IT fit perfectly. At Marks & Spencer, my size is my size is my size. If that number is on their label, it fits my body. I sent the boys on a “treasure hunt” to find all the black trousers in my size. They found four; it took ten minutes; I bought them all; I’m wearing a pair right now. They look great.

3) Their shoes tend to be wide. That’s a nice change from EVERYWHERE ELSE ON THE PLANET.

The impetus behind this splurge is that a photographer is coming next week, which is something that stresses me out even more than shopping does. I have to make the house look presentable. I have to make ME look presentable. While half the family goes to see Skyfall after church, I will go home and scrub the white stone entryway. (Who approved white stone and white grout at the front door anyway?? Oops, me…)

Wish me luck! Cross fingers that the photog will be forgiving and flattering.

(Photo credit to S.W. Stark, now old enough to be off in foreign countries having adventures without me…)


From “Envoy” by Billy Collins, a message to his just-published book:

"stay out as late as you like,
don't bother to call or write,
and talk to as many strangers as you can."