Subject: Manse Diaries: Mall Pall

Date: 01 Aug 1998 00:00:00 GMT

From: (MegaLiz)

Organization: MotPU: Where Binary Moodswings are ALWAYS on the Menu

Newsgroups: alt.foot.fat-free, alt.slack, alt.ask.phred





Baby Bobo and I had a rare opportunity today. The rest of the

family was happily occupied with swimming, but we were going to

shed our poor folk shackles and perform a couple of surgical

strikes, including one on the mall. I hate the mall, really, but

I believe now that it's a distaste that's directly proportional

to the amount of spare cash I'm able to leave there. We've

finally hit budgetary bone in the stay-at-home project and have

the chance to truly test our commitment. If I were thoroughly

committed, I would have stayed home, but, well, I had this



I struggled Bo into the backpack for our first stop, a birthday

present from Crap Country. I headed straight for the messy, one

afternoon project section and immediately found a five-dollar

gift for Sparky's pal. At the register, I took an instinctive

liking to the cashier. She stood out from the usual teenage rebel

sheep, having no visible piercings, but rather was wearing lots

of interesting rings and displaying a genuine and relaxed sort of

friendliness. I nearly blurted, "Would you be my babysitter?"

before I remembered that I couldn't afford a babysitter right

now. She's probably too old for it, but I was mildly alarmed to

realize that I couldn't tell if she was sixteen or twenty. I

decided not to ask.


Strapped back into the squeal mobile, we headed for the mall, and

we only got a tiny bit lost. I couldn't remember the last time I

drove to the mall alone with a baby, but the coupon psychology

was just that strong. FIFTEEN dollars! Surely I could find a

small something or two that would be nearly FREE.


I once again failed to be pleased with my radio station, and I

began to wonder if I'm somehow just too old for it. None of the

"new music" sounds particularly new or even musical. I also

dislike the way their Flashback Cafe features songs that hark

back not-so-many years ago, to a time when I was a cashier with

lots of interesting rings on my fingers. Bobo seemed to like the

station, but she has terrible taste in music. One-year-olds

generally do, I've found.


I congratulated myself on finding the mall and having sufficient

endurance to eschew the stroller again. I focussed only on the

Coupon Store; everything else that taunted me from the windows

was as irrelevant as the obstacle planters.


The store had very few items that my coupon would cover,

naturally, and it boasted very few items that would cover me

adequately. The other coupon-bearers and I giggled at the idea of

arm-wrestling over the few remaining sixteen-dollar chemises. I

wasn't the only one diverted by The Deal, but I was the only one

foolhardy enough to pursue it with twenty-odd pounds of teething

on my back.


I was amazed to find a rack of what can only be described as

painter's shorts. The Rev had mentioned that he thought I should get

something exactly like that. I scoffed at the time, but there

they were, being inarguably real and undeniably short. I had to

wonder where he'd seen them, since it wasn't random inspiration

after all. Wherever they'd been, they'd made an impression. I

harrumphed and decided to try them on.


It was most powerful coupon coquette juju working me now. I tried

the stupid shorts on while I wore the baby on my back. We

couldn't turn around in the dressing closet, so I struggled into

the shorts and backed out of the door, while the baby happily

pulled my hair into a new disorganized mop shape. We stared at

the shorts in the mirror, had a brief lesson in saying MAH-MAH,

and I had nearly decided to buy the shorts when I got a glimpse

of the rear view. I'm too old for them. No question. No sale. A

flimsy blouse thing would go home with us instead.


After plunking down a mere five dollars and twenty-four cents for

a blouse that is probably worth five dollars, we bounced toward

the exit. Nobody cooed at the baby the way they do when she's in

a stroller, but aside from the hair pulling, it was infinitely

more interesting to have her close enough to blow raspberries at

my ears. I cooed at her, and chided myself about the shorts until

I noticed that we were following a woman who was showing off her

rampantly rumpled thighs. Yessir, I had just averted coupon



We edged out of the parking lot, which is arranged like a

vehicular pitcher plant. I had once again accidentally tuned into

and synchronized with the metropolitan flock movements. When we

were parking, dozens of cars circled, when we left, dozens

suddenly tried to escape at the same time. A Cadillac edged in

front of us, and since the driver was part of the second most

dangerous driver demographic--old guys in hats and wrap-around

sunglasses--I paused for as long as necessary to let him get

ahead of me. I suppose this took one beat of time too many,

because the sporty stud behind me began to gesture as if I'd just

performed a horribly dangerous maneuver. I looked back at the

Cadillac in time to see the wifely passenger punch the driver's

arm, and he waved a belated thanks as he drifted dangerously

close to the next lane.


I wondered if I'd ever get too old to go to the mall. It could

get much worse, though. I could get too old to get back OUT.




Emancipate a comma! Evict mental ergonomics!