Winning Gold in Non-Olympic Sports: Seagulls and Shopping

Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work gains success. Greatness will come. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Everyone has talents, some more universally recognizable. For example, I can throw food to the exact seagull I feel like feeding. Do I get accolades for this? No. Sigh.

Darling, don’t try this at home but I can buy good presents in the 14 minutes between finishing security checks and having to get to the gate and it is one of sadnesses of my existence that this is not a recognized sport. And please note, I mean welcomed presents (this is important, anyone can buy schlock).

When leaving the Maldives, I knew I had one chance for the gold. I was too out of it to get anything when I arrived (36 hours, no sleep) and the gift shop at the resort was small and ridiculously expensive. 14 minutes and I needed gifts, a coffee and then get to the gate for boarding. This is where the rookies stumble and the old hands rock on. I dash into the souvenir store looking for something light, not found where I live, portable, preferably in bright pretty colors with a nice scent. I find scented fans painted with flowers; I buy six and a stack of postcards. Then I find, tucked away around the corner, the Dome (French) coffee shop and get an iced cappuccino to go – which I am drinking as I walk into the gate area where they are boarding the plane. She shoots. She scores.

Other shopping wins: a plate made of cinnamon wood! Tequila-sunrise flavored lip-gloss! Paisley wool shawls! Pink silk (with wittle cutsie elephanties and palm trees) eyeglasses case from Jim Thompson! Peacock blue jeans with rhinestones!

And in Bali… who was better at shopping than moi? No one! Batik stores! Huge beautiful old houses set off with grounds, you drive around the back and there is a little hut with a raised floor and straw roof for the tour guides to hang out in, a covered walkway with women painting batik and saleswomen to explain the process. Then you walk down into the former basement of the house (you never get to see the real inside or formal rooms) and there is every possible object made from batik fabric. The first was full of florescent lights and squabbling Russians so I asked my tour guide to go to a quieter one, smaller and nicer. I happened to get a few tablecloths. If you stand still in Bali for ten minutes, a vine will come cozy up to you and start climbing your leg. If you stand still in my house for ten minutes, I throw a tablecloth over you.

I also happened to mention casually in passing, teak. So we stopped at a large open-air warehouse (metal roof, cement floor, no walls) and I got a sofa. Lots of fabulous teak furniture, so I happened, in passing, to mention I liked that style, but not with the X, more of a Y, with a little Z. And the owner sat down and sketched out the perfect sofa.

Now this is how people should go shopping – you buy from someone who knows what they are doing and are qualified/ good at their work. It was a fabulous sofa, exactly what I wanted but probably would never have been able to explain, solid teak (no slats), gentle curves across the back and slightly curved legs. The guy called the shipping agent (shipping was twice as much as the sofa). It is supposed to arrive in 2 or 3 months, who knows. Handmade teak sofa built to my specifications – that chance is not going to come again, sometimes you just have to trust fate.

I even win at IKEA. I was at one in the Middle East and was disconsolate, thinking ‘I WISH I could take some of this stuff home with me but I have no room in my one piece of luggage’, then it hits me. I only have *one* piece of checked baggage! I am in an Ikea! I smell a lovely possibility! I scour around and YES! I find a big woven plastic Ikea duffle for $3, sturdy enough to check-in. I get three bathmats, a coffee press, almond scented candles, wooden bowls, a nightlight and two new pillows. Heaven! Wrapped everything up nicely and traveled with two bags.

And I win conquering jetlag. One trip to the home and I had 2 doctors’ appointments, three hours in a Target, the LL Bean mothership store, three clothing stores, ice-cream store, two cafes and a French bakery within 48 hours of arriving. On another trip, I had a nine-hour time difference, four flights and three hours sleep. I arrived, checked-into hotel and immediately went out and got a haircut then bought gummy bears, shoes, Italian coffee, a dress and three bags of over-the counter medicines and vitamins.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, it is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Marianne Williamson