Friday, August 14, 2015

A mall is no place for a middle-aged, out-of-shape guy

When my daughter and two nieces conspired to go the the mall, they asked if I wanted to go.

Did I want to go? Absolutely not. The mall, to me, is a place to be avoided. Full of women's clothing stores and various lotions, ointment and holy-hell-priced tea boutiques.

But I relented, bowing down to the peer pressure of "#familybonding." Plus my nieces claimed (a mighty big stake) they wanted to try Sushi. Well. Mall Sushi isn't probably the best introduction, but I went with it anyway.

Thirty minutes in, sweat started rolling off my shaved head. I huffed and puffed like I wanted to blow the whole place down. I kinda' did, too.

I'd entered a new era, one that hadn't waited for me. I became a dinosaur, a relic of a past age. Teenage girls cruised the halls, bags of expensive clothing dangling from their wrists like charm bracelets. Clusters of energetic boys, wearing shorts far below the level of common sense, hooted and hollered like monkeys. When I saw the price for the three girls to ride the carousel, my wallet weighed down my shorts nearly as far as my teenage brethren. Security guards eyeballed me warily, a Sesame Street game of "one of these things doesn't belong here."

I followed the girls into high-priced and trendy clothing stores, feeling out-of-sorts whenever the young clerks (I wear underwear older than them) approached. I considered asking if they had XL sized men's skinny jeans, but it sorta defeated the whole purpose, I think.

The food court was a trap in waiting. Acoustically amplified voices reverbed off the high ceiling. A multitude of fried foods awaited the unwary traveler, all the kiosks lined up like gaudy shuckster tents at a carnival. And for some reason, the cart-driving janitor had it in for me, ramming his vehicle into the back of my legs, not once, but twice. I suppose I provided a target too good to ignore. He didn't offer an apology, just a dumb, blank look. The look I'd grown accustomed to. Message received. I didn't belong.

And the Sushi, oh, the Sushi. My nieces were predisposed to hate it, something I suspected. But after shelling out big bucks for a tiny tray, these were the results:

My mall adventure was a painful lesson. It had me questioning my "middle-aged" status.
When did I get old? Granted, even as a youngster, I've never enjoyed going to the mall. I've always thought of shopping as a necessary evil, not an event. Get in, grab, get out. Eyes straight ahead, know what you want. Don't turn around, lest you turn to stone.

But the hits kept on coming that day. Later, at the grocery store, the check-out girl tried to ring me up on a senior discount. I haven't yet hit that very unmagical age. So I fought, very vocally, to spend more money on my hemorrhoid creme.That'll show 'em.

For a different kind of horror, check out my new book: Ghosts of Gannaway.

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