Scenes From a Mall
Everyone's in a hurry, but no one seems to know where they are going. A woman in 3-inch heels drags her kids to the food court while trying to close a business deal on her cell. A teenager in an Abercrombie sweatshirt silently prays for cash at the ATM.
As I walk past each shop, I can't escape the variety of musical stylings blaring from every corner. I notice an old Bruce Hornsby track blaring from the mall speakers. "That's just the way it is." I love this song. In the distance, I hear the sounds of a winning slot machine. Turns out it's just someone's cell phone ringtone. Bummer.
Pop star Seal serenades me from the new over-40 apparel shop Forth & Towne, and tea and cookies entice me from a quaint table in the store entryway. I begin to walk in, but realize I'm still seven years from 40. No need to rush things.
Heading to the store that's at the top of my list, I notice the words "breaking news" along with the bright red CNN logo on a TV at the Comcast Cable kiosk. Did someone die? Are we being attacked? No. Just another on-air plug for a TV network.
Still staring at the breaking news teaser, I run smack into a freestanding TV screen that reminds me that I will be hungry for dinner later, even though it's only 2:30 p.m. The ad for P.F. Chang's promises something just for me. I doubt it. Speaking of food, I notice smeared pizza on the ground. I decide to sit down for a while and end up placing silent bets on who will step into the tomato sauce first.
Just as a 3-year-old bends down to dip his finger in the sauce, I turn toward a seminar going on in the center of the mall. Sponsored by a local hospital, "Relaxation and Breathing Techniques for Managing Stress and Anxiety" seems to have found the perfect setting to help people with that problem.
I also notice an ad for a Kids' Club, held in the mall court each Friday. A bunch of moms stare at each other while their kids exert some weekday energy, a perfect setting for sampling and sales pitches. Too bad no one has taken advantage of the sponsorship opportunity. Big mistake.
I finally reach my destination, where I intend to buy music the old-fashioned way at Sam Goody. I purchase the new Neil Diamond CD with cold, hard cash. (Yes, I'm 33 and I like Neil.) On my way to the Easy Listening aisle, a video monitor invites me to race a horse using my feet. I don't see the connection to music, but it captures my attention long enough to catch the ad for a new rap album.
Three hundred stores and 36 restaurants later, I walk out into the sunshine with my CD and leave sensory overload behind.