There are no big box stores in the small town where I live, other than WalMart and Home Depot. No Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Petsmart, Michaels, JoAnns, Macys, Dillards. In the year I’ve been here, my biggest local buy was a 50 pound bag of birdseed.
So when errands drew me to the big city, I figured it was time. I headed over to a swanky shopping mall to see what I’d been missing. Wow! I felt like a three-bowls-of-soup monk stranded on a Carnival Cruise all-you-can-eat buffet. There were people, hundreds of people, all walking fast. All carrying shopping bags! I had about 20 minutes to kill while I waited to get a battery replaced at Fast-Fix, so let me give you a nouveau stranger’s view of consumerism.
This being Southwest in the summer, a sale mentality reigned supreme . Talbots had all their mannequins wearing red T-shirts that proclaimed, “Sale!” Victoria’s Secret did them one better, by dressing all their mannequins in itty-bitty, teeny-weenie black bikinis. They carried big red shopping bags labeled, you guessed it, “Sale!” The salesfolk in Pottery Barn were circling like hungry sharks. When the third one accosted me, calling me, I kid you not, ‘Young lady,’ I figured it was time to split.
Seigfred Olsen was all in orange. Williams Sonoma decreed green was the color de jour: towels, mixers, spatulas, bowls, aprons–all lime green. Dana Buchmans held a skimpy display of deep grays, somber browns, dull blacks. No summer sales for them–they were already well into winter.
The costliest per ounce? Probably the three-diamond ring in Wilhelm Jeweler’s proclaiming ‘yesterday, today, forever.’ Nice sentiment. A close second was the square stone necklace of frosted coral at Tiffany’s–one of those if-you-have-to-ask-how-much-you- probably-can’t-afford-it pieces of jewelry. But close behind these had to be a copper-plated Kitchenaid mixer in Wms. Somoma for only $900 and an English bulldog puppy at the pet store, a steal at a mere $2999.
Ranking in the useless, but cute category, also at Williams Sonoma: a ice-cream cookie mold in the shape of a pig face for making your own pigface-shaped ice cream sandwiches. And pink crystal table salt from the Himalayan Mountains. Always wanted some of that. On my top ten list of things to buy. Uhuh.
And then time was up. Back to pick up my clock. No charge because it was year four of a five year battery guarantee. I could feel the Scots burr welling up in the back of my throat as I returned to my car and headed back up the hill to the country. Away from the crowds and the heat sink of pavement and cement and freeways. Back to the orioles and foxes and free running streams.