I don’t know what it is Carmen and shopping. Never having been one for shopping sprees myself, I can’t say I relate to her need for regular retail therapy. If anything, I find the idea of dropping hundreds of dollars on impulse buys to be quite stressful, but she seems to find it endlessly relaxing.

The main problem is that she’s racking up heaps of credit card debt. I thought I’d finally gotten through to her about the potential ramifications of this behaviour, as last week she agreed to not buy any new shoes for six months (a big deal for Carmen, who has at least a hundred pairs). Anyway, I saw her in the CBD today, hiking along with her habitual swathe of pricey-looking shopping bags. Naturally, I had to go and confront her about it.  

Grinning broadly, she reported that she’d been keeping her resolution about no more shoes. I asked her what was in the bags, and she proceeded to gleefully show me several new handbags she’d just bought – a brocade tote, a large leather slouch bag and a gold-studded backpack that I’m guessing cost the equivalent of my monthly rent. I enquired as to whether she really needed all of them, and looked really exasperated. “Of course I need them,” she pouted. “I’m not allowed to buy shoes, remember?”

It seemed to be totally lost on her that she’d just replaced one borderline-destructive consumption habit with another. If she doesn’t understand that, in this situation, handbags fit into the same category as shoes… well, I don’t know what else I can do. I’m as much of a sucker for some well-made boots or a nice, soft leather shoulder bag as the next person, but that doesn’t mean I need to buy up every example thereof that crosses my path. Carmen, on the other hand, can’t seem to resist doing exactly that.

Is there some kind of twelve-step recovery program for this sort of thing?