Keeping Warm/Beating My Head Against The Wall

by Nic Olson

I just bought a new jacket and I’ve never felt worse. I feel great physically. My upper body is dry and warm and two-tones of blue. As I tried the jacket on, debating whether or not it was worth it or really something I needed, Black Flag’s ‘My War’ played in the background. When I finally gave in, the track switched over, and as the long debate between Large or Medium, the song ‘Can’t Decide’ played.

It is not my body that feels ill, it is my brain. I have, through years of frugality birthed into more recent years of hating consumerism, especially of new products, conditioned myself to be disgusted by retail purchases. Perfect, it could be said, for a man working retail. Handy, some may think, when you are in a record store on Record Store Day and can’t justify buying a record because it is just another twelve inches of plastic in your parent’s basement. And the debate between my frugality and my supporting a good cause begins: But it is Record Store Day, man. Do you even like music, or are you just one of those record collecting, long-haired posers? Support your local record store, you dickhead. Instead of spending my money on a circular piece of music-generating vinyl, I will pay a crooked Air Canada to fly me to a city of whimsy and loose-walleted people. Instead, I ended up buying a jacket that was on the border of necessity, that is, not a current necessity but is a potential necessity, depending on several things that may happen in my future. I could justify any purchase with that logic, from a carrot-juice maker, to an automatic machine gun, to a tube of toothpaste, to a jetpack with oxygen tank. These, based on my predictions of the next fifty years, will be essential to life. These, and a decent rain coat. It might rain next week.
The only thing that suggested that it may be a good idea was a gift certificate that I found on the ground to the store that I work at, the store at which I already get handsome discounts. The fact that I got a jacket at the price I did, makes me feel guilty in another entirely different way. But in an attempt to justify, the debate continues: The rare, necessary and well-thought-out purchase isn’t a bad thing, is it? Yes. It is. Buying something when I know not if it is sustainable made or ethically made. It is perpetuating the mindset that I claim to be at war against.
When I finally made the purchase, credit card inserted in the terminal, my heart convulsed, I got panicky. Too late: Approved. Pay me later at 11% interest. Queue the next track on the album, Black Flag’s ‘Beat My Head Against the Wall’.
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