A good friend of mine blogs about word meaning and use (see “Word Nymph“). I thought of her the other day when I realized how my definition for the phrase “window shopping” has changed over the years.
Growing up in rural Kentucky, we had to drive a minimum of 30 minutes to get to a mall. When you make that kind of time commitment, you usually buy something...so our window shopping took place in a catalog before we left.
After I moved away to college, shops and malls were much closer. I didn’t have a car then, but I could hitch a ride with a friend easily enough and window shop to my heart’s content. And I really did window shop back then, because goodness knows I didn’t have any money.
Then I moved to the Midwest and got jobs and cars and drove myself everywhere. I probably intended to window shop, but instead ended up buying lots of things I didn’t need.
When I moved to the Northeast, things changed even more. I sold my car. Walk pretty much everywhere. On every corner, there are stores for major brands and boutiques and shops. And where do I do most of my window shopping today?
It’s just so easy. I can visit any store in seconds, click around on the merchandise — select hundreds of dollars worth, if I feel like it — put it in the shopping cart, and then close out the window, buying absolutely nothing.
I get all the fun of shopping without spending any real money…
…well, that trip.