Sunday, February 06, 2005

Scenes from a mall

I don't normally make a habit of spending my Saturday afternoons at the mall. It's not that I necessarily have anything against malls -- I had a definite weakness for the "Chinese" food at the food court in the St. Lawrence Centre mall in Massena, New York. But the crowds at Flagstaff Mall on Saturday afternoon depress me a little bit. It's as though thousands of people woke up on Saturday morning, looked outside at the majestic San Francisco Peaks, saw a beautiful Arizona morning and said, "Great! It's a perfect day to go hiking, or maybe even skiing. I know -- let's go to Spencer Gifts."

I would actually feel guilty about my own excursion to the mall on a Saturday afternoon, except that a) my 8-month old isn't quite up to skiing yet, and b) my wife and I needed to finish our holiday shopping. Not even Christmas shopping, which would have been bad enough; but Chanukah shopping, just in time for the two-month anniversary of the end of Chanukah. (The Christmas-celebrating wing of our family is a little more time-sensitive about gifts than the Jewish wing.)

We wound up at Bath & Body Works, where the choice boiled down to buying a home-oriented fragrance or a body-oriented fragrance. Either way, gifts from Bath & Body Works seem like they send an odd message -- "Merry Christmas! Your living room smells like feet!" or "Happy Valentine's Day -- have a little something to deal with your B.O. issues." Of course, you can always return from Bath & Body Works with something like a loofa, but "Happy birthday... I thought you might enjoy exfoliating" is perhaps a weird message, as well. (Bath & Body Works has also apparently added a line of "apothecary" products, featuring $8 shaving foam and retro-looking cold cream. Naturally, I stood there for about two minutes, trying to figure out how this cream would help treat a cold. But I digress.)

We wound up with body-related, lotiony, spray-like fragance products ("Happy Chanukah -- here's how we think you should smell..."), which, as it turned out, we could have stood to have opened up and sprayed on the mall populace. Now that non-smoking environments are commonplace in public spaces, perhaps we, as a society, should take the next logical step and limit these same places to people who have showered in the past month. First, we'll need the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the risks of second-hand bodily fumes on an unsuspecting population. But in the end, such legislation will make malls a (slightly) more pleasant place, and pre-flight airline announcements more interesting ("...smoking is never permitted on-board our flight, and as a courtesy, flight attendants will shortly pass through the cabin and douse the passengers in our aromatic section with Irish Spring.").

Once we've done something about this, we can get back to work on important issues. Like figuring out who this Spencer person is, and why so many of his gifts seem to involve talking bottle openers.

1 comment:

Carol Davidson said...

The alternative is giving a holiday gift from Spencer's? "Here's the temporary tattoo we thought would look best on your __insert body part here__." Hmmm, sounding more and more like a family reunion at my house. But I digress.