For the sports aficionados of the world, early February can be rough. Memories of the Superbowl grow faint, yet the Stanley Cup playoffs are still too far off to start betting on. With no Olympics to spruce up this year's dead time, you may be experiencing feelings of loss and complacency without having that on-the-edge-of-your-seat adrenaline rush that major sporting events provide us with. While this may be a good break for your blood pressure, a guy or girl can get a little despondent.
Luckily for us Mainers, there exists an "ultimate challenge" that promises to test you on every emotional, physical and psychological level: shopping in Freeport. Before you spit out your orange juice reading this over breakfast, hear me out-shopping is not for the faint of heart.
Physically, shopping takes its toll. The only activities that come close to challenging an individual's endurance in the same manner are the Iron Man competition and the Tour de France. Not only are you on your feet at least six hours straight, but climbing up to the second floor of the Gap outlet or to Nine West carrying a heavy shoe bag from Bass and new camping equipment from L.L. Bean can easily leave you winded. Along those lines, trying on clothes and dressing and undressing in split second fashion increases you heart rate faster than any aerobics class.
Speaking of the dressing room, this is the last stage of the Freeport Tour de Force; the stage that separates the professionals from the amateurs. The mental dexterity required to stand under fluorescent lighting in a bottom-heavy mirror trying on bikinis, and not desire to throw oneself off the second floor of J. Crew, is greater than that needed to stay calm in the Tour time trials; I doubt Lance Armstrong could do it without flinching.
Intelligence also comes in handy calculating 15 percent off of a $79.00 Patagonia fleece and deciding whether or not you can represent it to your parents as a restaurant specializing in mountain cuisine when the credit card bill comes.
Nevertheless, shopping is not continually triumphant-the Maillot Jaune is not always within reach. There are the moments of tears, when you don't make the play down to the wire. It's the fumble at Banana Republic when the hanger mysteriously slips out of your hand onto the floor; it's the pain when you have to walk away from the red messenger bag at Coach; it's the time when a store has every size but yours in that pink dress. Thus for every triumph of a 75 percent off sale, there is the tragedy of missed opportunities and too-big hips.
Finally, it must not be overlooked that shopping is done without not only performance-enhancing drugs, but also devoid of any power bars, cliff bars, or proper sustenance; there are no volunteers on the sidewalk by Starbucks handing out Gatorade. All the physical exertion, mental challenges, and emotionally gut wrenching scenes are done on a cookie and coffee, enough to spike your blood sugar for a few hours and then send it crashing right about when you need to make the most significant purchasing decision of the day.
Therefore, despite all of its allures, I hope you realize that shopping
is dangerous and shouldn't be taken lightly by the out-of-shape amateur.
I suggest that before you actually head to Freeport for the day, you browse
Amazon.com and build up your shopping muscles for the big day. In retrospect,
for all of our February gloom, perhaps it's not such a bad thing that
the Superbowl is but once every year, that the Olympics every four years,
and that Bowdoin isn't located in Freeport.