Shopaholic Takes Manhattan (Shopaholic #2)


by Sophie Kinsella

One

OK, DON’T PANIC. Don’t panic. It’s simply a question of being organized and staying calm and deciding what exactly I need to take. And then fitting it all neatly into my suitcase. I mean, just how hard can that be?

I step back from my cluttered bed and close my eyes, half-hoping that if I wish hard enough, my clothes might magically organize themselves into a series of neatly folded piles. Like in those magazine articles on packing, which tell you how to go on holiday with one cheap sarong and cleverly turn it into six different outfits. (Which I always think is a complete con, because, OK, the sarong costs ten quid, but then they add loads of accessories which cost hundreds, and we’re not supposed to notice.)

But when I open my eyes again, the clutter is all still there. In fact, there seems to be even more of it, as if while my eyes were shut, my clothes have been secretly jumping out of the drawers and running around on my bed. Everywhere I look, there are huge great tangled piles of… well… stuff. Shoes, boots, Tshirts, magazines… a Body Shop gift basket that was on sale… a Linguaphone Italian course which I’m definitely going to start soon… a facial sauna thingy… And, sitting proudly on my dressing table, a fencing mask and sword which I bought yesterday. Only forty quid from a charity shop!

I pick up the sword and experimentally give a little lunge toward my reflection in the mirror. It was a real coincidence, because I’ve been meaning to take up fencing for ages, ever since I read this article about it in The Daily World. Did you know that fencers have better legs than any other athletes? Plus, if you’re an expert you can become a stunt double in a film and earn loads of money! So what I’m planning to do is find some fencing lessons nearby, and get really good, which I should think I’ll do quite quickly.

And then — this is my secret little plan — when I’ve got my gold badge, or whatever it is, I’ll write to Catherine Zeta-Jones. Because she must need a stunt double, mustn’t she? And why shouldn’t it be me? In fact she’d probably prefer someone British. Maybe she’ll phone back and say she always watches my television appearances on cable, and she’s always wanted to meet me! We’ll probably really hit it off, and turn out to have the same sense of humor and everything. And then I’ll fly out to her luxury home, and get to meet Michael Douglas and play with the baby. We’ll be all relaxed together like old friends, and some magazine will do a feature on celebrity best friends and have us in it, and maybe they’ll even ask me to be…

“Hi, Bex!” With a jolt, the happy pictures of me laughing with Michael and Catherine vanish, and my brain snaps into focus. Suze, my flatmate, is wandering into my room, wearing a pair of ancient paisley pajamas, with her blond hair in plaits. “What are you doing?” she asks curiously.

“Nothing!” I say, hastily putting the fencing sword back. “Just… you know. Keep fit.”

“Oh right,” she says vaguely. “So — how’s the packing going?” She wanders over to my mantelpiece, picks up a lipstick, and begins to apply it. Suze always does this in my room — just wanders about picking things up and looking at them and putting them down again. She says she loves the way you never know what you might find, like in a junk shop. Which I’m fairly sure she means in a nice way.

“It’s going really well,” I say. “I’m just deciding which suitcase to take.”

“Ooh,” says Suze, turning round, her mouth half bright pink. “What about that little cream one? Or your red holdall?”

“I thought maybe this one,” I say, hauling my new acid-green shell case out from under the bed. I bought it last weekend, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.

“Wow!” says Suze, her eyes widening. “Bex! That’s fab! Where did you get it?”

“Fenwicks,” I say, grinning broadly. “Isn’t it amazing?”

“It’s the coolest case I’ve ever seen!” says Suze, running her fingers admiringly over it. “So… how many suitcases have you got now?” She glances up at my wardrobe, on which are teetering a brown leather case, a lacquered trunk, and three vanity cases.

“Oh, you know,” I say, shrugging a little defensively. “The normal amount.”

I suppose I have been buying quite a bit of luggage recently. But the thing is, for ages I didn’t have any, just one battered old canvas bag. Then, a few months ago I had an incredible revelation in the middle of Harrods, a bit like Saint Paul on the road to Mandalay. Luggage. And since then, I’ve been making up for all the lean years.

Besides which, everyone knows good luggage is an investment.

“I’m just making a cup of tea,” says Suze. “D’you want one?”

“Ooh, yes please!” I say. “And a KitKat?” Suze grins.

“Definitely a KitKat.”

Recently, we had this friend of Suze’s to stay on our sofa — and when he left he gave us this huge box full of a hundred KitKats. Which is such a great thank-you present, but it means all we eat, all day long, is KitKats. Still, as Suze pointed out last night, the quicker we eat them, the quicker they’ll be gone — so in a way, it’s healthier just to stuff in as many as possible right away.

Suze ambles out of the room and I turn to my case. Right. Concentrate. Packing. This really shouldn’t take long. All I need is a very basic, pared-down capsule wardrobe for a romantic minibreak in Somerset. I’ve even written out a list, which should make things nice and simple.

Jeans: two pairs. Easy. Scruffy and not quite so scruffy.

Tshirts:

Actually, make that three pairs of jeans. I’ve got to take my new Diesel ones, they’re just so cool, even if they are a bit tight. I’ll just wear them for a few hours in the evening or something.

Tshirts:

Oh, and my embroidered cutoffs from Oasis, because I haven’t worn them yet. But they don’t really count because they’re practically shorts. And anyway, jeans hardly take up any room, do they?

OK, that’s probably enough jeans. I can always add some more if I need to.

Tshirts: selection. So let’s see. Plain white, obviously. Gray, ditto. Black cropped, black vest (Calvin Klein), other black vest (Warehouse, but actually looks nicer), pink sleeveless, pink sparkly, pink—

I stop, halfway through transferring folded-up Tshirts into my case. This is stupid. How am I supposed to predict which Tshirts I’m going to want to wear? The whole point about Tshirts is you choose them in the morning according to your mood, like crystals, or aromatherapy oils. Imagine if I woke up in the mood for my “Elvis Is Groovy” T-shirt and I didn’t have it with me?