Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 12.11.13
Stanstead, Quebec


So I shopped. Am I happy yet?

I do want to be a good consumer. I do want to drive the economy. I do want to give Third World labourers something to keep busy. But most of all, I want to experience the endorphin rush of purchasing shoddy goods at low, low discount prices. I hear it's quite the thing. So last weekend I shopped.

"Can you buy the thing for Whozit?" my wife asked. (I can't say what the thing is because Whozit might read this.)

"I'll do it now," I said and went on a website that used to sell mostly one type of thing but now sells many, many different things, and I searched for the thing.

Wait: You thought I left the house to shop? Are you crazy? People got killed last week shopping for low, low discount prices. I prefer to consume in the same way I face most of life's challenges: with minimal effort and in my slippers.

Shopping from home doesn't mean no stress, though, simply less exposure to physical violence and stirrup pants. For example, I quickly found the thing I was looking for. But did I want the thing with the extra thinginess or the other thing with the free thing? And even though the thing on this site was quite cheap, how could I be sure the thing wasn't even cheaper at some other site?

It's like those dreams I keep having of driving lost in the city, and all the exit ramps keep turning into steep waterslides. Except it's probably nothing like that.

Either way, there was little satisfaction in clicking the little shopping cart icon, except the satisfaction of knowing that, unlike real-world shopping carts, this one probably wouldn't give me scabies. I felt no endorphins. I did feel a tickling around my ankles, but that was just the cat putting the moves on my slippers.

Clearly what I needed to achieve bliss were more outrageous bargains, so I clicked on the tab that declared "1000s of books on sale!" (Fine: the site where I bought the thing sells primarily books, and now I've likely ruined Whozit's surprise. I hope you're happy!)

There were indeed hundreds of discounted books, most of which I had never heard of. I scrolled through to see if there were any my wife might like, maybe all of them, possibly none of them. I mean, do you go for the shirtless hunk or the slutty vampire? What if I was aiming for romance but ended up with erotica? And is there a difference? Without pictures, how are you supposed to tell and, quite frankly, what's the point?

And that was when I stumbled upon a sub-genre that stopped my scrolling in its tracks: Amish romance. Book after book of women with bonnets on their heads and lust in their hearts.

I was amazed that such a genre exists. While I doubt that Amish romances are especially smutty ("Is that a butter churn in your buggy or are you just glad to see me?"), it made me wonder whether any genre is safe from being eroticized. Erotic horror, erotic fantasy, erotic sci-fi. Erotica is everywhere, although probably not erotic humour. I mean, imagine a comic love scene involving one of the parties wearing fuzzy slippers and a case of mistaken identity on the part of the cat. That would stop being erotic in a hurry. Just saying.

I didn't find anything for my wife, but I did remember some books I'd been looking for, and -- ooo! The New York Trilogy is on sale! Mind you, everything was on sale, but not for long, or at least not until the next time, which is, what, Black Christmas Eve? Boxing Month? Slush-Grey Wednesday?

I added the book to my cart -- really it was three books for the price of one, so I'd be crazy not to buy it -- and felt pretty smug for having spent just enough to get the free shipping.

Bring on the endorphins.

Are endorphins supposed to feel like guilt and remorse? Oh, wait, now I see why: I had been sucked into consumer hype and I had Christmas shopped for myself. Shopping had made me a terrible, terrible person, and now I can't stop thinking about Amish erotica.

They sometimes refer to shopping as "retail therapy." Maybe I just need plain therapy.