Scenes in a mall:
--The freak show known as Wal-mart, slightly before sundown, a couple of women, apparently mother-daughter by the shared unattractiveness, are pushing a shopping cart overflowing with sugary cereal, 2-liter bottles of cola, cookies, chips, donuts, powdered drinks and other assorted foods of the non-natural variety. I assumed "party" and moved on. Had the misfortune of ending up behind them in the line as they checked out, surly, greasy-haired and slow. Just for the heck of it, I asked them if they were having a party. It was like I grew a second head from My neck. No, they said, just shopping. Paid with a Food Stamp Program debit card. Over $110 charged on it, so they probably have 2-3 kids, at least. Do the math and you'll see that healthier choices mean less food, which might mean less weight, but more pain. And maybe the surliness comes from the diet, or the feeling of not having enough amidst the "plenty" of Wal-mart. No excuse for the greasy hair, though.
--Another day. Early morning trip to Office Max for some office supplies. Decide I could use a little pick-Me-up and head for the hottest (temperature-wise) coffee in town. Sit down with it for My obligatory 12-minute wait to drink it and see several older folk chatting at nearby tables. I write some notes, read a bit and finally get to My coffee. Oddly, I have to come back in the afternoon to get My son some things. Passing by the same coffee shop I see many of the same old folk. Eight hours have passed since I saw them. No shopping bags in their hands or near them. They seem content, although also a little tired and out of sorts. Better that than loneliness or indifference.
--A crowded "dollar store," with merchandise hemming in haphazard aisles. A very pregnant lady is perusing baby clothes; blue ones. Almost three dozen shoppers surround her, almost all women, what few men are in the store are either passing through or passing time. Suddenly, the pregnant lady stumbles, swoons, leans against a rack of clothes, her purse slipping off her shoulder. She seems flushed. Women glance over, noticing almost immediately what has happened. The men notice a few seconds later as the woman tries to stand straight and reach for her purse at the same time. No woman moves, but a few have looks of--contempt--on their faces. I can't tell if the ones that do have a man with them or are alone. Two men gingerly approach the pregnant woman as I pass by. They offer to help her and do, making a call for her. I wait a few minutes and notice that the men are almost courtly in their behavior, talking with the woman and offering to get her some water, food or a chair, all of which she declines, while more of the women, seeing the scene, are smirking or tittering. Makes Me wonder, about the men and their desire to help, the women and their reaction (or non-reaction) to what happened and about Us as a society.
Scenes in a mall, like slices of tissue, can reveal a lot and not enough.
The Jenius Has Spoken.