By Paul Greeley
If you see me at a shopping mall, call the police. Because I joke that the only way I’ll go shopping at a mall is at gun-point. It’s not the mall’s fault; it’s me. I have trouble resisting their temptations--the sights, the smells, the sounds are capable of driving me into a shopping frenzy. When I walk by the stores that sell music, electronics, sporting goods, food, even fashion, I have to steel myself, put my hand on my wallet, stay the course in the middle of the mall, like Ulysses tied to the mast so he won’t be tempted by the nymph’s singing on Sirens’ Island.
“Your spirit is strong”, I say to myself, “but your Visa is weak.”
On the few occasions I do have to shop for Christmas or someone’s birthday gift, I attack it like a well-planned military assault. Make a detailed plan, then get in and get out alive.
I don’t need anything anyway. I keep shoes forever. And men’s shoes haven’t changed much since the Ice Age. They recently unearthed a neandorthal wearing wing-tips. And when they do come out with something new, they look old, like those square-toed dress shoes they’re selling now-- put a buckle on them and you look like a pilgrim! Plus, they ain’t cheap. I saw a pair of shoes on clearance at a well-known, high-end dept store recently that cost more than the gross national product of many small countries!
I see other men like me sitting on those benches in the middle of the mall. They’re not relaxing; they’re resisting. We nod knowingly to each other in passing, silent encouragement to keep it up.
But these days even the middle of the mall has its own temptations. Now they have kiosks, huts, stands, shacks, and tables lined up everywhere you walk displaying everything from hats (lids!) cell phones, computers, sunglasses (shades!), make-up, hand-bags, insurance, carpeting, landscaping, tropical fish, even cars. And of course, jewelry. Nothing quite says love like when you buy your girlfriend a bracelet at a jewelry kiosk in the mall. Rosetta has a stand so you can practice Italian while you’re shopping and learn to say ‘ciao’ to your money.
By far, the strangest activity I recently witnessed at the mall was something new I’d never seen or heard about. A lady is sprawled out on a table while another lady hovers over her face working a long piece like some kind of magic ritual. It looks like some kind of adolescent rite of passage you might see from
Borneo on National Geographic. I watch in amazement wondering what in the world are they doing? I ask another lady who is signing up for the next appointment.
“Oh, it’s called eyebrow threading. It’s a lot less painful than wax.”
If they can have a side-show in public showing ladies getting their eyebrows plucked one by one right in the middle of the mall, what’s next? Plastic surgery?
“Honey, I’ll be back in an hour looking 20 years younger. I’m getting a face-lift at the mall.”
Definitely bring your Visa for that.