I think I must be some kind of shopping monster. It is weird. I have everything I need. I am totally in love with my husband. We have three beautiful dogs, a nice home, really great careers, amazing friends, but it isn’t enough. Because there are all these Jeanine Payer necklaces I don’t have yet. I can’t rest until I have the new Ed Hardy pink suede Geisha boots in a size 6.5.

God forbid you are a fan of mine and also the proprietor of a quaint boutique, and you foolishly invite me to help myself to the stock. At Roots in Toronto, the owner cordially invited me to ‘pick an outfit.’ I responded, “Well, exactly what do you mean by outfit? I mean, to me, an outfit is pants, a top, a jacket, an overcoat, an umbrella, socks, a keychain, earrings, a bookmark, some sunglasses, boots, a backpack, a baseball cap…” We did not define ‘outfit’ in the same way. Still, I got away with a lot, and yet in retrospect, it is highly embarrassing; remembering the helpful salesperson’s friendly open smile turn grey, like their skin tone actually changes, and the smile fixes into a polite grimace, and the pile of clothes you picked out for yourself becomes even larger, a testament to your own greed, or a foolish idea that you could be worth that much free merchandise.

I am the swagmonster, I am the eggman, with egg on my face and a huge mound of $125 t-shirts to put back on the rack because I am not Britney. Maybe my swaggy jones would be satisfied if I were a bigger star. The bigger you are, the more people clamor to give you shit. The gift bags skyrocket in value, because not only do you got da skills dat pay da bills, just the mere association with you pays other people’s bills too. I’d buy it all, I could afford it, I guess, but it isn’t really the same. I want to be the girl with the most cake and I want the cake to be without charge.

Perhaps because I can be generous in the same way. I give because it gives me intense joy. I am currently designing my own line of bellydance belts and clothing (YES THAT’S RIGHT I AM DOING MY OWN LINE!!!!!!ITS MINE MINE MINE!!!! FINALLY!!! I GET TO DO WHAT I WANT!!!! YAY!!!! COMING SOON!!!!!), and I give away samples like a drug dealer: “The first one’s free…” If you are my friend, you are gonna get shit from me. On my many travels, things are going to remind me of you, and you will be the recipient of the most clever, thoughtful, useful, practical, impractical but perfect for you gifts because I love you and this is how I show you.

Unfortunately, I have been taken advantage of because of this trait, more times than I care to remember. It is sad that people rip you off, and so I guess I am trying to somehow buy back a little revenge by accumulating swag, as if sweatshirt hoodies and makeup could erase the pain of betrayal. Because when I ask for free jeans or waterproof concealer or false eyelashes, and I ask for too much, too many times, I am not really hurting anyone, because I am only asking, and being told no might shame me a little, make me feel I have a hole inside bigger than even myself, but it is not personal. What sucks is when it is personal. The way I trust others has been both what is beautiful about me and a serious liability. I have fallen victim one too many times, so that now my heart is a locked vessel where the combination changes all the time, like a club that changes location every week, and you have to be on a special list that allows you to hunt down a flyer with a phone number to call to find out the intersection where a guy will be standing at a pre-specified time, and if he likes the look of you, he might tell you where it is.

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