Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Shopping in Daytona Beach

As much as I am shamelessly devoted to driving my automobile it is an odd repercussion of our hibernation in Florida (or elsewhere in the United States of America for that matter) that apart from the journey to and from here the vehicle suffers ignorance by design. We've become instead overwhelmed by prolonged breakfasts after which we indulge ourselves in schemes of fitness (bicyling on the beach for example or swimming or - dare I say it - weights and pulleys); and by the time all that is accomplished the evening is upon us and there's dinner and the news then bed.  Not what you'd call a dynamic agenda by any standard but nonetheless passably healthful.  I confess our daily absorption in American politics is beyond doubt.  We've even discovered by chance that our political immersion far exceeds what is the perceived normal for most Americans.  Certainly Mr. Trump can be thanked for much of the vigour which swirls about the native political arena but I suspect it is also true that Americans - at least on the level of those who contribute to and watch cable television - have a passion for politics competing with the likes of Nova Scotians in Canada where residents actually know their legislative representatives.

The point is our regular fodder derives almost uniquely from sleep, nourishment, exercise and the news.  Interspersed among these so-called preoccupations are email and telephone communications with family and friends, casual reading and writing and grocery shopping.  To say that our shopping is limited to groceries is no longer peculiar either here or at home.  In fact our days of retail exploration have all but expired. Precedent to my retirement from the practice of law we underwent a major downsizing, a corollary of which was a jaundiced view of shopping in general.  When one unloads anything that doesn't go in the dishwasher, it's a safe bet that acquisition is the least of one's burgeoning objectives.

For this reason I find myself startled to admit the uncommon delight I've recently derived from shopping in Daytona Beach. Though the frequency of shopping here hardly competes with my erstwhile habits at home, the exhilartion is undeniable.  Again for the strangest of reasons.  Gone are the days of buying precious Persian rugs, Steinway pianos, complicated watches and Henredon sticks of furniture. Instead it's Target and on-line orders from Macy's. What I have spent in the last three weeks in Daytona Beach doesn't even touch my booze bill for a like period when I used to enjoy my evening martini in the company of Jane Austen and my French bulldog. But lest it appear that my purchases are completely without interest, I hasten to observe that the cost (aside from being exceedingly modest) is quite irrelevant to the approbation which attends the expenditure. I have unwittingly discovered that the substantive feature of retail is not confined to gold, silk and mahogany. Indeed - to exemplify my thesis in the most egregious comparison - even rubber (or resin), stainless steel, humble cotton and synthetics have proven to me their value.

Being nomadic as we now are there has been a corresponding declension of the passion for durability. Transience tends to diminish the appetite for solidity. Commensurate with this amortization (or transition) is a waning dedication to perpetuity.  In addition when one is constantly in a state of leisure the elevation of products is rather a wasted effort.  Having things which must accommodate cycling, sunshine, salt water and heat becomes a matter of changed perspective.  Hence the rubber straps on watches for example.  Even the new duvet is pointedly made of "alternative" down to permit its regular washing in a machine (as opposed to the inconvenience of dry cleaning).  It is an inherent truth in this business of daily exercise that we're perpetually hoping to diminish our protuberant bellies.  The upside to this transformation is the need for new stuff from time to time.  In this whirlwind of emaciation it is no fiction to prefer modest (though perhaps less reliable) textiles.  There is the relieving knowledge that having paid $12 for a hoodie is no loss. All told the shopping vernacular is now open-ended and much altered. Even on the level of technology we have discovered that the discount or outlet stores offer terrific bargains today on what was yesterday's leading innovation. For example we purchased an all-in-one wireless printer, copier and scanner for the price of $59!  It is ideally suited to our limited needs while traveling. Granted it is not a laser printer (though it works in colour or black-and-white) and the scanner doesn't automatically do both sides of multiple pages (though you can turn the pages manually to accomplish the same result).

A more uplifting sequel to the new shopping experience is that there are remarkably reliable products for equally astonishing prices. I won't make the mistake of suggesting that Bulova competes with Rolex but nonetheless you get a bang for the buck! It is indisputable that what one loses in quality one gains in disregard for loss or damage (not to mention the associated insurance cost).  Downsizing generally is calculated to facilitate convenience and abandon - which like any other luxury comes at a price.

Whether I am deceiving myself by adopting this unquestionably diluted disposition - or whether it is the inevitable accident of aging - I feel the current proclivities are authentic. There is more than a bit of strength to the ultimate fiction of the material world. As one ages and increasingly adopts a philosophic approach to the world the buoyancy of possessions is inversely affected.  I am nonetheless a hardcore materialist and it suits my demeanour to maintain at least a partial hold on retail though I willingly acknowledge its ephemeral appeal.

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