Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Seventh Circle of Hell

My parents recently moved waaay out almost to Arlington. For those who don't live here, that's a rural area that is being turned into yet another suburb of Memphis in our ever-reaching quest to have the worst suburban sprawl of any city in America. Anyway, it's also past the hellish traffic nightmare that is the Wolfchase area in Cordova. And since I was at my parents' house with the kids Saturday, and since my parents are willing to watch said kids for free, and since I had completed exactly zero percent of my Christmas shopping, I descended into shopping hell.

I am not a shopper. I know that you know this if you've ever seen me wear a black shirt and olive or khaki pants or jeans five days out of the week. If I were thin and rich I might like to shop. Maybe. But as things stand, I hate it. However, I like Christmas enough, and I shop infrequently enough, that I can sometimes enjoy Christmas shopping. Crowds don't really bother me much, I enjoy picking out gifts for the relatively few people I have to buy for, and I like me a slice of mall pizza from time to time.

Unfortunately, Wolfchase Mall ten days before Christmas quickly overcame my feeble attempt to let the Christmas spirit override my shop-a-phobia. So. Many. People. The main problem with that kind of volume is that it makes everything take so horribly long. I walked into Victoria's Secret, saw at least four lines comprised of at least fifteen people each, and walked right back out. It wasn't as bad in Macy's, and I did manage to get started on my Secret Santa present for Stacey there, but I also spent a lot of time wandering around aimlessly looking for things that are allegedly sold at that store, but which no employee had ever seen.

Eventually I gave up on Macy's and went out into the mall proper. One look at the lines in the food court told me that my slice of mall pizza was not to be. I didn't want to leave the kids for an excessively-long time, and I just don't have a lot of patience for lines. I told myself that my waistline would thank me and moved on in search of stripey knee socks for Stacey. This search led me into Hot Topic. This is a store into which no 35-year-old mother of four has ever walked. A boy I would put at about 14 shot me with a laser gun as I walked in he door. When I ignored him, his friends erupted into cries of "Ha! She thinks you're a big dork!" I asked the sales girl with multiple facial piercings if they sold striped or printed knee socks or tights, and she directed me to a display of trashy-looking Merry Widows, garter belts, and bustiers with some stockings, tights, and socks underneath. I picked out two pairs of socks and made my way to the register only to recognize the cashier as a student from the school where I teach. Suffice it to say that I was glad I had limited my selections from that area of the store!

Eventually I made it out to the parking lot with very little to show for the two hours I'd spent inside. After a few minutes of searching for my car (minivan, whatever), I entered the serpentine line of vehicles that snaked in and out of rows and around the entire circumference of the giant mall. As I sat, the Admiral (husband to SAM) and their daughter Miss M walked by and paused to laugh at me for being stuck in the impossible snarl. I offered them a ride to their car, but the Admiral later informed me that even though they were parked a ways away, they left the parking lot before I did.

My adventures then took me across the road to Toys-R-Us, but honestly, I don't think you can handle the full account of that experience. Suffice it to say that I found far less than half of what I was looking for and once abandoned my cart in a huff and headed for the door, but then went back for it when I saw that the lines were relatively short and that I had spent almost four hours shopping with very, very little to show for it.

Next year I'm going to have to try out this interweb shopping that everyone is talking about.

Friday, December 07, 2007

In Other Formats...

My December Lamplighter column is now up. Page four.

Come to think of it, I never posted the link to my November column. It's there in the archives. It's about cocktail hour and I kinda like it, so read it if you have the time. Pretty please.