Thursday, February 19, 2009

Of Challenges

Exactly a week back, a Wednesday, I saw him for the first time. He was new to this place that has, over time, become my mid-week hangout. He looked unfamiliar not just to me, but to the other denizens as well. But he had a certain charm that drew people to him. At some point, he caught me staring at him. He looked me in the eye and smiled at me. A little bit sly, I thought. Immediately, I knew I could never trust him. I turned away and left.

Yesterday, I was surprised to see him there again. He was stunning and captivating. French. Givenchy. Son nom est Givenchy.

But this time he was no longer alone. He stood there, proud and self-assured with his friends. Three of them. All Italian. Versace, Prada, and Versace.

They locked their gaze on me as soon as I walked into the warm hall. Trying so hard to keep my composure, I pretended not to see them and forced myself to walk fast past them. But I could feel them still. I knew that behind me, they were staring at me, waiting for me to make a move.

I turned around and walked back to were they were. Before I knew it, they were all lined up right in front of me. "We're on sale. What should you do?", Givenchy, their leader, asked me. Challenged me.

We stood there: all five of us, in awkward, difficult silence. My heart was beating fast and my hands were sweating. I was ready to take on the challenge. But not with every one of them. Only one. (Or maybe two, but that would mean I'll have to sacrifice a lot this month. One is safe. That only means I have to postpone a planned purchase till next month.) But which one? I reached inside my pocket for my phone and checked the time. 5:20pm. We'd been standing there for more than 10 minutes. One missed call. T.

I dialled T's number and apologized for missing his call. "I was making a very important decision."

"May I ask what?"

I explained to him the situation and asked for counsel.

"You don't need it. You have sunnies," he said matter-of-factly.

"But they're two years old," I reasoned out.

"And still functioning." T was very clever. He caught cornered me in a cul de sac. "Hard times, Rye. We shouldn't be spending on unnecessary things."

"It's necessary."

"It's a want." He punctuated the discussion.

"What should I do?", I asked him feeling defeated.

"Put them down and walk away."

I was silent.

"Did you hear me, my love?"

"Putting them down." And I started to walk away. "Walking away."

I left Delay No Mall with a heavy heart and million second thoughts running in my head. More than four times, I attempted to go back and give it a second chance. Eventually, I realized I was gonna be late for my dance class if I stayed longer. I gave up.

All throughout my back-to-back classes, images of them four sporadically flashed in my mind. And images of them and me in the sun. In Boracay. In Floatilla. On the train. On the bus. In Cheung Sha. In South Beach. I struggled to forget them. I needed them out of my system before dinner, when I was gonna meet up with T to celebrate our second month. I succeeded somehow.

But I woke up this morning to thoughts of them.

And, through an incident today, I learned a lesson from yesterday's challenge: In shopping, as in life in general, not all challenges are worth spending our energies and resources on. Some challenges serve nothing more than our egos. And it's not bad at all. But other challenges serve our egos and some things else. It is but wiser to save our bullets for these ones that prove to be more worthwhile.

That incident today, I will blog about tomorrow.