Yesterday, I went to the mall to buy a Christmas present. They say Christmas is for children, but the mall and mall people at Christmastime are not for children. People at the mall are kind of mean to children. Actually, people at the mall are highly annoyed with women who bring their children to the mall. The same can be said for the post office.
My post office is in Oklahoma City’s Asian District, the progress of which I have thoroughly enjoyed. But, my neighbors were darting their eyes at me. Their Vietnamese sounded more brusque than usual as my kids twirled in and out of the line and played hide-n-seek with a cardboard cutout of a mailman. The entire time I was waiting for my turn at the counter, a very tiny woman was practically standing on my heels. Another woman just ahead of me whispered to me that she had five.
FIVE, I said, and she said yes, five children all under seven. I would get a tattoo of a peacock on my neck if I had five children, too. I asked her if she had help and she said oh, yes, she did. I said that’s good! And, by the time I got to the counter to mail my packages and get my stamps, the postal clerk said there were no more Christmas stamps left. She slid three sheets in front of me: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and EID. I would have asked for flags, but I didn’t want to hold up the line any longer than I already had. The clerk was African American so I figured I’d go with the Kwanzaa stamps. We’re all so affected by images if she’d been wearing a necklace with a Star of David I might have gone with the Hanukkah stamps.
At any rate, everybody is going to get Christmas cards from me with Kwanzaa stamps and they’re going to think I’m trying to make some kind of statement.
So, I have always been a post office person. My father was a post office person. If I wasn’t so cheap, I’d rent a post office box just so I could go to the post office every day.
So, I was once a mall person, but not so much anymore. In the early 1990s when I was a DINK and had more money than sense, I managed to burn up at least 20 percent of my income every month at Foley’s on Kaspar suits and various products at the Clinique counter. Yeah, raspberry glace was my shade.
There are lots of women at the mall and they’re all dressed up like they got dressed up just to go to the mall. I’ve done this before. When I was 19. So, I have consulted my friends. They tell me that chicks of all ages do this. They get dressed up to be seen by people they don’t know. And, if they happen to run into people they do know, they’ll pretend they didn’t see them. It’s like A. said yesterday. “Nobody wants to see anybody anymore.”
I saw someone at the mall yesterday who was developmentally disabled. He was wearing a suit somebody bought at Montgomery Ward in 1975 and he shuffled a little this way and a little that way, and he was all alone, and he appeared to be the most decent person in that entire vat of ego and consumption. No wonder Nouwen went to Canada.
I said, “What is it, son?”
“I’m sorry I acted like a wild animal at the store today.”
But, that’s just it. The only beasts at the mall yesterday were us grownups.