It all started on my last trip to Japan. There are several fast-fashion retailers that I enjoy shopping when I travel there. As far as I know these stores are only located in Japan which makes the impulse to purchase everything in sight doubly strong for fear I’ll never find it again.

One day I was aimlessly browsing at a shopping center. I had no clear intent other than to kill time while I waited to meet up with my boyfriend. I walked into Sense of Place, one of my favorite shops, telling myself that I was only there to look. My suitcase was already filled with purchases from my trip and I didn’t have room for anything else. At least that’s what I told myself over and over again as I stared at this amazing denim jumper.

It looked similar to a Zara jumper I’d recently admired, with a flare leg, clean lines and colored in the inkiest blue indigo. I could tell by looking at it that it was a great find and would look fantastic on me. Best of all it was on the sale rack. But “no”, I told myself. “You don’t need anything else”. 

I tried to walk away from it. I kept coming back. I picked it up to try it on. I kept putting it back. This mental tug-of-war went on and on until I decided to go with my tried and true preventive measure against buyer’s remorse. That is to not purchase the item, go home, and if I’m still obsessing about it a few days later, then it’s okay to buy it. This technique has kept me from buying many a regrettable purchase. So my boyfriend showed up and we went on our merry way to do whatever it is we were doing that day.

A day went by, I still wanted the jumper. Two days went buy, I’m obsessing about the jumper. Three days went by, I’ve brought up the jumper in conversation at least twice. By the fourth day, I decided I absolutely had to have the jumper or the world as we know it would end. It wasn’t until the fifth day that I was able to get back to the store.

As soon as I entered I made a beeline straight to the sale rack. I just knew it would still be there, waiting for me, whispering “take me home”. It wasn’t. Disappointment plunked into my stomach like a lead weight, but I wasn’t ready to give up. I turned to my boyfriend determinedly and sent him on a mission to search one half of the store while I searched the other. We looked all over, but it was gone. Really and truly gone. I couldn’t believe that I could be so stupid. I never even considered that the jumper was the only one left, so why would it still be there five whole days later. And more importantly, why didn’t I buy it when I saw it!

I felt dejected, but resigned. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. I mournfully shuffled over to the shoe section. Shoes always make me feel better. The shoe rack happened to be near the dressing room and as I walked past it, I saw an inky blue shade out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look and there it was. There was my jumper. My beautiful jumper. And there’s a woman in it!

I ran to my boyfriend, excitement and jealousy oozing through my body so thick you could probably smell it. That was my jumper. She had no right to be in it. And she definitely didn’t have the right to look as amazing as she did. My boyfriend, infuriatingly amused at my plight, decided he had to see it for himself. He surreptitiously walked past the dressing room (or as surreptitiously as a 6’3” 210lb guy can be in a women’s store). Not only did he like the jumper but he proceeded to tell me how great the woman looked in it, grinding salt all over my gaping wounds. In order to deflect the daggers shooting at him with my eyes, he decided to feed me a glimmer of hope by pointing out that she hadn’t purchased it yet and therefore there was still a chance she might change her mind. It was a dull glimmer, but I took it.

We hovered around the store, sneaking quick glances at the woman and her companion like velociraptors circling their prey. I don’t know what was going on in my head. The more I saw this woman in possession of the jumper, the crazier I became.

Suddenly my boyfriend came up to me and told me her companion took the jumper to the cash register. Oh no! I ran up to take a look. They weren't there but the jumper was, folded nice and neat on the back counter. Somehow in my delusion I convinced myself that this didn’t mean she was going to buy it. Maybe she couldn’t decide if she wanted it and was putting it on hold (I don’t even know if they do that in Japan). I thought to myself, if it’s on hold than I can convince the store to sell it to me. For a moment, I realized I didn’t even know if the jumper fit me. I decided I didn’t care.

Eventually, we left the store before it became too obvious we weren’t buying anything, but I couldn’t go any further. I just stood there outside the entrance. I couldn’t leave it behind. There was seating in front of the store where shoppers were reading, waiting, watching children or resting their feet. I had my boyfriend sit there and keep an eye on the couple while I walked to another shop. He was happy to do it and definitely tired of walking around with me.

I walked around a little bit, thinking maybe I could find a consolation prize to make me feel better. Something, anything, that would make me feel like I didn’t lose. I found nothing. Not a thing. I walked back to him sure I caught him napping, but he looked up and told me they bought it. My heart sank. It was the end. I came in at second place with nothing to show for it except the reality that I’m no better than the mobs on Black Friday.

The moral of the story is -next time you like something, buy it and save the receipt.