Rorschach Testing My Online Purchases During Coronavirus
Extreme "I Shop Therefore I Am" content.
I have never liked to shop. In the Before Times, I hated to shop in stores. (Yes, blame me for the death of retail!) I like to have new things, but the doing, the walking, the talking, the walking, the double-checking to make sure I had my little wallet, the hauling it from here to there, the waiting for the train, the existing itself was a hassle. Online shopping did not offer any better solutions, really, but still I indulged. I shopped when stores were on sale, and I bought boot glue. Then quarantine hit and inexplicably, here I sit surrounded by fifty online impulse-buys. I’d never stopped to think about how my purchases could tell something more about me, like reading tea leaves but with receipts. During the pandemic the tea/receipts keep getting more absurd and desperate. Here’s a breakdown of my quarantine purchases as I attempt to see what the fuck is going on with… myself.
April: To-Go Margaritas
Calabrijes is a great margarita spot in my neighborhood, and in April they finally announced they’d deliver! I would order three frozen spicy margaritas at once—and they’d send a free shot of tequila like they would when we’d leave for the night. They offer over 40 flavors: tamarind, mandarin, lychee, spicy frozen, or/on-the-rocks. The agency this choice gave me made me feel powerful: if the only obstacle to having the margarita of my dreams was my own imagination, maybe I could will myself from this reality. I briefly pretended I was on vacation and leaned into escapism. The frozen spicy peach mango was my favorite escape hatch. My ritual around this time would be to order a frozen pomegranate cucumber margarita and watch Porches’ Instagram lives and then cry. Jalapeño coconut if I was watching Diana Gordon’s live. This was a great routine until it wasn’t. A baptism every night is tiring. I became a vegan soon after because of the spiraling or because of Tabitha Brown.
May: Silver “1931” Necklace
Instagram advertisements are more persuasive when you’re missing your friends, wings, and parmesan. They hit differently. (Being a new vegan I hadn’t crossed the “you-don’t-even-miss-it” threshold of abandoning your favorite foods yet.) When I saw a post for custom jewelry, I clicked. I didn’t feel safe because the policing of Black people’s mask compliance was violent, and the added anxiety of being a tall Black man. When I don’t feel safe the first place I go is Toni Morrison and she’s dead now so I felt more unsafe. I wanted to be close to her so I thought what better way than to get a custom necklace of her birth year (1931). In silver. From China. In addition to the necklace I ordered all the fiction books of hers I didn’t already own. Paradise, Love, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby. The books arrived right away but the necklace took a little over three months to arrive. By the time it arrived I realized Toni Morrison would’ve absolutely hated this but I was glad to have it. No more escaping, this is where I was and I wanted to be safe but safety is kind of a scam. OK, it’s real, but it’s not real.
June: Pistachio Ice Cream Crocs
There is nothing that hasn’t been said about them, so I’ll spare you. I have always loved ugly, funny stuff but Crocs never spoke to me until June 22, 2020 3:04 AM. That morning I woke up and my spirit was different. Maybe I had listened to one too many covers on YouTube of “Normal Girl” by SZA. I was caught off guard by how difficult picking a color would be. I knew I wanted a soft color. Baby pink seemed too on-the-nose because it’s too self-aware like if there is a celebrity cameo and the celeb is winking a lot. Lavender took itself too seriously like it’s definitely trying to pretend it’s above being a Croc. I settled on a green. Some might call it sea-foam or mint, but I call it pistachio ice cream. (Remember Pharell’s Ice Cream sneakers?) This is probably the only purchase that gave me what I was actually seeking: comfort. If the things in my room came to life when I slept, my Crocs would be the last in line to choke me in my slumber. I trust them with my life.
July: OnlyFans Subscriptions and Silicone Lube
I was quarantining with my roommates, whom I do not fuck. I hadn’t prioritized desire and pleasure for so long especially after protests and anti-Black discourse began to get more attention. One night I blacked-out metaphorically, and when I came to I had subscribed to five OnlyFans accounts and ordered silicon lube. The accounts I followed were two YouTubers (I’m already privy to every aspect of their lives, and I think I just needed to fill in the gaps of the parts that I wasn’t), a sex cosplayer/ self-identifying sex scientist in that he tests out the sex toys he uses (did I say I’m queer yet?), an Instagram model, and a mutual of a mutual’s mutual on Twitter. My world is much smaller than I thought yet pleasure felt far away. Yes, I’d masturbated prior to this but now I’m doing it with intention. I’m normally water-based but I got the silicon lube because I want something that would last a while so I could take my time. The mess of it, I was less concerned with because existence is a mess at this point. Hopefully I can use orgasm magic to manifest the end of everything bad.
Give this a try. I don’t think you should do this in place of therapy but wouldn’t it be hilarious if that was what I was ultimately trying to say?