Thursday, February 14, 2008
Valentines Day at the Mall.
I went to Briarwood Mall after work on Valentine’s Day. The first time I’d been in there in like a year. I didn’t go for any special reason. Figured I’d look to see if I could get a markdown price on a”Civilization 4: Beyond the Sword” expansion set as I’m nerding out on that game again presently and was waiting for the expansion to go drop in price. Software and video games, unfortunately, are very difficult to ever find at sale or clearance prices, but really I just went to the mall because I was bored and didn’t feel like doing what I usually do when I’m bored, which is go work out or pretend to work out, at the YMCA.
I figured the difference in locale wasn’t at all profound, as actually the two things I primarily do at the Y: ” people-watch”(i.e.furtively oogle unattainable women) and “walk” (i.e. oogle unattainable women As I pretend to jog the indoor track), I could just as easily do at the damn mall. In a way, the mall itself was a historical precursor to the Y, in that in the winter months I used to go to this mall on cold evenings to partake of my two favored activities: “peoplewatching” and “walking”. (In fact, if you cared to dig back a few years in my blog-record on this very site, you could probably find an entry to two from this period when I walked and oggled at Briarwood Mall prior to the YMCA Era.
Funny how time slips away and arches back on us like a curve or circular thing, or a boomerang hitting one in the face with meaning…”here, take this, take this, take this circular significance to your own life, sucker.”)
Well, anyhow. Now…Valentine’s Day… would be good time to finally set down in text a short list I’ve been turning over in my head for quite sometime. The inspiration comes from one of my clients, who has a long history of “accidentially” meeting supposedly “available” women out in the community who, coincidentially, turn out on further inspection to actually be prostitutes. His innate ability to unerringly and repeatedly meet and court and then reject (and then be followed by for weeks on end!) these unsavory women lead me to compose this warning list for him which I shall now share with you, my dear readers:
“PLACES NOT TO MEET WOMEN”
1) The Department of Human Services (AKA “Family Independence Agency”, aka “The Welfare Office”).
2) The ” Center”. (AKA The local clubhouse for mentally-ill.)
3) The bus-stop. (In Ypsi, the bus-stop in question is near a Deja Vu, a string of bars, and the local hooker strip of Michigan Avenue. But really I mean all bus-stops.)
4) The Dollar Store.
5) The police station.
6) If they pull over if they see you walking, or, more importantly, if they wave and get you to pull over when THEY are walking…DON’T DO IT!
Do not try to meet women at these places if you can help it. Try to meet women through friends you know, family, or at church. I would prefer you not try to meet women while you are working, but you can get a phone number or talk for awhile if it isn’t distracting, but remember, one of the places you work at the Welfare Office, so it’s not a good idea!
I’ve found this list to be a good one to follow for my own life, and pithy indeed perhaps in it’s wisdom, although I’d probably add “THE INTERNET” as an unseen 7th category of places it probably isn’t great to meet women. But like gambling, that 4th beer on a weeknight, and a slider from Bates Burgers, what is not “a good idea” is usually to what I actually want to do and do anyway most of the time. A good idea, for me, is a good idea at all times, not just the times where a good idea is actually a fuck-up.
Some would say the mall itself was a good place to meet women, and if I were perhaps 16 years younger than I am, I’d probably agree. As it stands, for someone of mature age such as me, it’s probably a good place to attract a trumped-up statutory rape charge, a good place to get followed by mall security, and perhaps, escorted to my car, or filmed for further investigation. I have no in-buildt sense of being able to discern how old I am anymore, and this extends to all others: I have no ability to discern the probable age of most anyone from the ages of say 14 on up to say mid-40’s. It’s all one big generational melting pot to me. Since, at heart, I probably possess the emotional maturity of say, a 24 year old, it’s sorta how I see myself all the time and by extension, it’s sorta how I see everyone else. Nevertheless, the average age of the average mall-goer remains probably what it was when I went to the mall regularly, that is to say, around 15 years. Strictly taboo. I know what you’re thinking: but Picky, see, alot of 24 years date younger women! That’s true. But while my mind thinks it’s actually 24, my body knows it’s actually 36. David Cross has a routine about this on “It’s Not Funny”.
I know what you are thinking. “Damn! Who knew…that Picky’s a dirty old man!” but I demure. Bear with me. It’s not what you think. The Mall has become one of my own personal “Places Not To Meet Women” not because I’m some raving sex pervert oggling after the youngsters, but the exact opposite: I know that my internal age chronometer is hopelessly so out of whack that one day you might see me shopping at Pac Sun or Hot Topic, in my 60’s, and be nonethewiser. It’s like those times on acid when you thought sticking your hand in the campfire might be a sorta cool thing to do, but there’s some wise part of yourself deep down, who isn’t tripping, who says, right at right time, “Don’t! Don’t do it!”
For this reason I could never be a schoolteacher…I’d slip instantly to the maturity level of my charges and probably regress. “Did you see what happened to Picky? He took that job teaching 8th grade and now all he does all day pop zits, listen to heavy metal, jerk off, and hate this parents. It’s sad, really, for a 49 year old man to behave like that.”
So, ahem, the mall is one of those places where I am reminded, constantly, that time is passing, I’m not getting any younger, and I’ve missed alot of opportunities in my miserable life. I suppose alot of people who go there feel this way. I suppose, actually, that that’s actually part of the plan. For what is the only recourse you have when you get that tingly reminder that death is closing in, you’ve fucked up your life and even less good will come from your fading early promise than you initially hoped, and that you’re really sad and unhappy and inadequate most of the time? That’s right, it puts you in the mood to BUY!
BUY BUY BUY! Or is that: Bye-bye-bye?
If Death is the Mother of Beauty (Wallace Stevens), then She definitely was at least the Aunt of Buying Shit. The mall is a great place because it is really one big death-preventer. A big fat time-delayin’ death postponin’ machine that like the massage chairs on the concourse that mechanically rub your back for a $1 a minute; takes your money to make you feel better for a short time before wearing off and calling you back for another round when you’re blue, down, or bored.
I used a chair this time, although I was surprised to see an apparently authentic “Tai JI Acupressure Massage Clinic” had opened up not far from the Coney Island, the California Pizza Kitchen, and the buck Hot Dog stand. I was intrigued, but at 20 bucks for the (short) pop, I passed, and instead sat at one of the mechanical chairs for the $1 a minute ride. It was ok, but I had to lean forward whenever the rollers pressed too much on a center spine bump in the middle of my back, and thought, predicting the pinch of the rollers just in time, “damn that bitch coulda hurt me if I wasn’t feeling inside my body right about now”…as someone who has experienced more than my share of really well-done therapuetic new agey-style massage treatment, this gimmicky chair was a bringdown. But I did feel better getting up than I did sitting down.
Well, I walked through Macy’s and got depressed that I liked it better as Marshall Fields and liked it best as Hudsons but what can you do? Alot, it seems, as I’m a renowned “spring coat whore” and bought yet another “spring coat” (or light winter coat, in this instance) as these were on sale and I got an incredible deal. Otherwise, I slunk around, tried to look like I wasn’t shoplifting, sprayed myself with the most expensive cologne tester I could find, and lurked around the periphery of the downstairs make-up counters near the escalators, furtively studying and coveting the intriguing make-up counter shop girls as they gossiped in the evening boredom.
Exiting the too-bright light of the make-up counters near the Macy’s Entrance, I made way for that temple of nerd-dom, “Electronics Boutique Games”, or “EB Games”. It’s nothing like a damn boutique. On the way I noticed the cheesed-out jewelrystore counter and the Godiva chocolates were both doing a booming business. I reflected, miserly, that I was glad to be clear of this “Valentine’s Day Racket”, this “scam”, and instead free and able to invest my meager savings on myself, on my video games, and perhaps later, some beer. “Look at all these suckers with their rings, their fiances, their special moments” I inwardly sneered, as I hiked up my sagging pants, itched my ass, and ogled another hot chick giving out perfume card testers in the entryway to “Victoria’s Secret”.
They didn’t have what I wanted at the video game store, but I didn’t even ask to see if they might have one in back, as, by now, i realized I hadn’t really come to the mall for any reason at all, let alone for the reason to get some expansion to some computer game I’d probably forget to play in a week anyway. But I never ask people if they have one in back. Who the hell does that anymore?
I didn’t really know why I came to the mall at all on Valentine’s Day, and turning to make my way back how I came, thought I’d at least get a coffee in the mall courtyard, thought about writing, thought people’d look at me wierd if I did it at the mall, and then shrugged and tried walking around the perimeter of the mall again, for exercise. I was tired and wanted the coffee by then anyway so I quit.
I got a good deal on that coat. The damn Starbucks coffee was so hot I couldn’t even sip at it until I was near the exit where I’d come in. I decided to leave. A security guy wisked past me on a Segway. “Lazy ass!” I thought, which is the only rational response to the sight of ANYONE riding a damn Segway.
Right then my back began to ache again, right there at that same tender veterbrae where the damn roller on the massage chair had pinched too tighty. “Guess I didn’t get out of this one without getting at least a little wounded…” I thought, trudging out the door, past the waiting taxis and buses, to the spot near the snowdrift where I’d parked my car.