Scenes from the mallWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
Malls are a great place to observe the evolution of America’s slow demise. From restaurants to movies to department stores, there is simply no better place to observe the meltdown of the melting pot.
A recent afternoon at a local mall provided a looking glass tour of social interaction that makes Alice’s Wonderland look like a chess match between Alan Greenspan and Norah Jones (an analogy which was supposed to suggest boredom, but now that I think about it, might be fun to see).
My first lesson of the day was about customer service. I made a purchase at a department store, and with my receipt, was given a printed coupon worth $5 on “any future purchase of $20 or more.” I thought that was a nice gesture, until I read the conditions printed on the receipt.
- The coupon was only valid for one day: Saturday, July 16.
- The coupon could not be used with any other coupon or special offer.
- The coupon excluded “selected tires, Levi’s, home electronics, DVD movies, video games, pharmacy items, beer, wine and footwear.”
- The coupon was not valid for “special purchases, sale prices, clearance prices, Land’s End merchandise, Levi’s jeans, auctions on eBay, outlet store purchases, catalog orders, Internet orders, parts and repairs, fragrances, Dyson vacuums, introductory offers, Celestial Star diamonds, fine jewelry, Weber, Maytag, gift cards, automotive services and protection agreements.”
Yikes. I don’t think the Geneva Convention is that restrictive.
My next bit of mall education concerned women’s underwear, so if protracted patter about panties makes you uncomfortable, you might want to turn some pages and see what Kozak and Bergman are writing about this week.
I’ve never been a believer in giving women’s lingerie as a gift; that’s like a safecracker buying the bank manager a dustcover for the vault.
A display at the department store featured women’s underwear with meant-to-be-cute sayings printed on the front panel. One read, “High Maintenance.” Another, “Princess in Training.” The most interesting: “I (heart) Money.”
How’s that for truth in advertising?
I did not linger in lingerie, but as I continued walking, I tried to imagine what secret messages were being sported by women passing by. I’m pretty sure I passed a “Born to Shop,” a “Dream on” and one “I’m calling the police.”
At the Hot Topic store, which I browsed to see which forgotten 20-year-old message T-shirts in my dresser are hip again, I saw some underwear that drained the “pant” right out of panties. There are several designs of women’s underwear that feature the likeness of Napoleon Dynamite. One blue-and-white thong features Napoleon’s nappy head and the word “Dang!”
Maybe Napoleon Dynamite underwear is part of a government program to promote abstinence. I can’t imagine the unveiling of Napoleon’s “Dang!” could inspire anything except an early night.
The day was supposed to end with a movie, but the experience inspired a thought-provoking discussion: Is a wheelchair a license to act like a jerk?
Two rows in front of me at the theater, three guys sat next to a friend who parked his wheelchair in the open space in the row. During the film, the man yelled at the screen, cursed, made lame jokes and behaved as if he were at a bar instead of a cinema, where quiet is supposed to be the rule, not the whim of an obnoxious loudmouth. In almost any other scenario, I would have shushed the loudmouth, tossed M&Ms at him or fetched a flashlight-wielding usher.
But the guy was in a wheelchair. Maybe he was a war vet. Maybe he was a hero cop or fireman. Maybe losing the use of his legs had made him bitter and it made him feel better to ruin other people’s movie nights. There was nowhere for me to go, so I did my best to ignore him. Somehow, the wheelchair shielded him from complaint.
I did find a way to get back at him; I left before he did, and tucked the $5 department store coupon in his backpack.
Maybe he’ll use it to buy his lady some “I’m with Stupid” panties.
Michael S. Miller is Editor in Chief of Toledo Free Press. He may be contacted at (419) 241-1700 or by e-mail at email@example.com.