saint-louise's Diaryland Diary

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With everyone telling you, \"BE. OF. GOOD. CHEER.\" Creepy...

I really, really dislike shopping. Really.

No, really.

Look, I can’t be any clearer than that. Yes, I could have used the word “hate” instead of “dislike,” but that’s not exactly accurate.

And I am accurate, by god.

No, really.

Shut up.

When I say that I dislike shopping, I’m not talking about the grocery kind. At least, not in this case. The grocery shopping thing has a completely different set of Dislike Reasons all to itself. For example:

1. The offspring calls me “mama.” She has for as long as I can remember. Of course, there was the brief period of time, when she was about five years old, that she was trying to call me by my first name – a “real” name as she called it, instead of “mother” and its various nicknames – and I told her that she could only do that if she called me “Atticus.” Since she couldn’t pronounce that properly, she gave up and went back to “mama.”

I find the mama name so enchanting it makes my stomach turn to syrup and pool up in my lower torso almost every time she says it. I’m not sure why it charms me so much, but that’s not the point. So stop pestering me for pointless details.

The point…ful detail here is this: When I have to go grocery shopping with Taylor, she tends to ask for things. Lots of things. Well, ANYthings. Stuffed animals. Candy. Crackers. Live lobsters. Light bulbs. Motor oil. Ten-pound frozen turkeys. The charm of “mama” wears off after three dozen, “Mama, I want…” statements. By then, my head has split down the middle and turned inside out so all I really hear is muffled static anyway.

2. The music they play in the grocery store where I shop has two distinct characteristics. It is a) crappy, and b) easy to memorize. Oh, I meant three characteristics. It’s also c) CRAPPY.

The level of a) and c) has a converse relationship to my tendency to take advantage of b) while I am shopping. While this is not an awful thing – because I know you’re thinking that YESYOUARE – you must put yourself in OH’s shoes in this situation. There is only so much ridiculous, ass-shaking, overbite dancing while singing along to “Africa” that a man can endure before he just walks away, taking the shopping cart with him. And then I’m left without a means to transport all of the stuffed animals, candy, crackers, live lobsters, light bulbs, motor oil and turkeys.

See? Grocery shopping is a bummer.

But it is not grocery shopping that I hate this time of year.

(And I know you’ve known where I was going with this since my first sentence. I’m giving you that credit, my dears. Put it in a handkerchief in your pocket and watch for petty thieves.)

Last night, my sister and I went to do some Christmas shopping. We left her home at 6:15. It took us ten minutes to get to the nearest mall.

Did I say that? I did! I. Said. MALL.

It took us fifteen minutes to find a parking place. Fifteen minutes. To park. In Outer Darkness.

We walked toward the mall. Stopped about midway to have a cup of coffee, rest, and chat with some fellow travelers. They had been to the mall and were on their way back, tired and looking somewhat worse for the wear. They had a little one with them, only about seven years old. I gave them an extra piece of bread I had been saving for my return trip, because the boy looked like he could use something extra to get him along.

We parted ways, knowing we’d probably never meet again.

Once inside, my sister and I found almost all we were looking for, although most of our time was spent trying to get our bearings and maneuver through the crowds. About 50% of the time, Christmas shoppers ebb and flow with relative predictability. Although they do not always get out of your way, you can tell where they’re going and compensate as you need to. There are, however, the rogue asteroids of the bunch: small, unleashed children; strollers that have lost their drivers, either literally, or to insanity; the elderly. We avoided these as best we could. But malls reveal a strange alternate reality around the holidays. They are stuffed to bursting with decorations, extra kiosks, people, and insipid music. The resulting effect on the senses will mask the truth, but you can still see it if you look closely enough.

Malls are a plane of hell. They have their own laws of physics and species of creatures. At some point, Roald Dahl, Franz Kafka, L. Frank Baum, Ridley Scott, Lewis Carroll, and David Lynch all witnessed manifestations of what we know as Malls, and this obviously left an indelible mark on their work.

Think about it.

My sister commented that she kind of liked traversing the roiling masses during the holidays. She said she likes that the people all have a common goal, and that it is the same goal she has.

I responded that although I could comprehend that idea, it was far too Hive for my liking. And besides, the common goal of the Christmas shopper included kicking everyone else’s ass in order to better their chances to get the last parking space/place in line/It Toy of the year. As comforting as it is to think of everyone united toward one purpose, sometimes I’ll go with deliberate, mean-spirited non-conformity, just so I can get some fucking peace and quiet.

Hey, we are who we are.

Merry Christmas. Go to hell.

4:21 p.m. - 2004-12-22

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