I dove straight into the madding crowds both Friday and Saturday. I don't really need much of anything--but
that doesn't usually stop me from shopping "just because." Especially if there are bargains out there, just
waiting to be hunted down, defeated in battle, and carried back home. When there's a good deal on
computer parts and random electronic devices, I figure *somebody* I know will need them sooner or
later...even if I haven't figured out who yet.
There's a lot of sports I'm not especially well suited for, but when it comes to shopping, I have the great
advantages of being able to slip through crowds easily and quickly, being considerably taller than the
great majority of other shoppers, and having much longer arms. When you think about it, I guess shopping
involves pretty much the same basic skills and traits as swordfighting.
You might guess that swordplay is the more dangerous sport, but I'd bet that a lot more people get
injured each year in shopping-related incidents than ever find themselves hurt in sword-to-sword combat.
I don't normally go to malls to shop--there's rarely anything I want to buy (or that fits me) except in some
of the factory outlet "malls"--but on Saturday I went to one of the bigger malls in the area just
because I felt like it.
Sick and twisted. Yeah, I know.
That trip turned into much more of an adventure than I'd planned: from one end of the mall to the
other (and back again) it seemed like I couldn't walk more than a few feet without having gangs of young
women descend upon me, trying to sell a random assortment of lotions, exfoliants, massage devices, and
other personal care items. Malls don't just have stores any more; the aisles between are now filled with
a nearly continuous string of carts and stands selling do-dads and do-hickeys, generally organized around
some unifying theme that just isn't quite compelling enough to hold together an entire store.
I didn't buy anything, despite being gang-massaged for extended periods of
time by determined salespeople. Not that this was an especially bad experience. I certainly got to see
(and feel) more new designs and styles of vibrating and pulsating devices than I had heretofore imagined
were out there. All
of them shared the drawback that they were just too light and superficial. (The *products*--I don't know
about the salespeople themselves.) Nothing felt like a deep,
strong massage--it was more like experiencing a succession of different species of beetles perform
traditional dances from their countries of origin on my back, arms, or head.
Sort of like the Nutcracker Suite, except for the lack of a full orchestra, that whole mouse battle thing,
and--oh, yeah--no nutcracker. But, apart from that, the basic concept was similar.
I'm okay with that. I didn't really want a bunch of mall personnel trying to demonstrate their various
nutcrackers on my body parts anyway.
Now, if they had only been *real* beetles, we might have had something worth filming that would
have a decent shot at getting on late-night TV. As it was however, I think the concept of "Mall Survivor"
still needs some massaging itself before it makes it into syndication.
I told one saleswoman that there'd be no reason for me to buy the massager
she was demonstrating because it would be useless without someone to operate it. (I'm flexible, but I'm
not *that* flexible.) She offered to include one of the other
saleswomen with it for an extra twenty bucks. I suppose that's a decent price for a saleswoman in good
condition, but I knew nothing about *her* ability to operate the various massage devices.
I should have asked what their return policy was if it didn't work out. Oh, well; it's not like she takes
up a lot of room anyway.
Eventually, I did escape the mall, but not before I'd been massaged, lotioned, exfoliated, and
personally cared for by numerous products over much of my body. That usually doesn't happen when
spending a day swordfighting, so that's one way that shopping is different. Plus, you do end up
smelling a little different afterwards. To be honest, I'm not at all sure that the mall version is the