I was given a compliment this evening that struck me as particularly odd. The compliment was not really odd, in and of itself. However, what ignited the comment was odd. The man told me I would make a good wife, which was nice, I guess; except for the fact that all he knew about me besides my name was that I liked Raspberry-Vanilla Italian Sodas and that I had no real desire to go spend time at the mall. It was this last piece of information that instigated the compliment and he was off. Odd, yes, odd.
The reason that this whole mall issue is so oddly fascinating is that unlike most women of my generation, the mall holds no thrilling treasures or hours of fun. The idea of spending a day shopping is exhausting, and that is just the idea of shopping, let alone the action itself. Not to say that when I am looking for something that I do not go shopping for it in a mall. Occasionally, I have been known to step over the threshold into the den of discontent popularly known as “the Mall”. But in that case, I have a specific goal and purpose. I do not like to window shop or merely wander up and down… The mall is not a source of entertainment to me either. This probably stems from my childhood. I undoubtedly have unresolved issues, repressed memories, and the like… Things like responsible spending and having to work hard for your money and no allowance… These things make a person view the mall in a rather skewed light I am sure.
Past the psychobabble, I know I was raised to spend wisely. It is a skill that I often bless my parents for, despite the guilt that comes over me even when I buy something I really need, on sale…I should be able to get it cheaper somewhere… Whatever the case, the mall is a place to spend money. If one does not have money, the mall is a place to look at things that one cannot have and desire them. The mall is a veritable petri dish of covetousness. I know that every time I walk into a mall with no money and decently content, I walk out again with still no money and horribly frustrated about it. It is as if a horrifying voracious monster lives inside malls that eats your contentment and spits you back out, leaving only what is bitter and wretched…like those pre-ragged jeans you wanted to buy but couldn’t because they cost forty bucks. Those jeans were probably stolen from Goodwill. But, of course, you cannot stoop to buying your clothes from a thrift store…no, no, no…that is too expensive. Growing up, when people would tell me my outfit was cute, they would ask me the dreaded question, “So where did you get it? Old Navy?” “No,” I would reply with feigned enthusiasm. “I got it at a yard sale!” Ahh, the joys of wearing other people’s castoffs.
But what, you may ask, is a mall to the rich and prosperous? Having never been part of this elite society, I cannot know for sure, they have mysterious practices that people like my own poor self cannot fathom. One of my most horrifying memories was the fourth or fifth week of my sophomore year of high school. The girls in the locker room were comparing how long they could go without wearing the same outfit twice. Most of them had not reached that point yet. Some still had a few weeks worth to go. I, on the other hand, might have worn the same five outfits every week to school. Yep, I lost that competition. I do not mind, now. I understand how ultimately blessed I am not to have to deal with that amount of just stuff. Thus for the wealthy, the mall is a place to get more stuff. For girls, this means clothes, shoes, and shoes. But somehow, I imagine that even the rich come out not as happy as they ought to be. The monster in the mall lives there still. But instead of eating contentment, he eats money. Then next time when they want something and they have no money…then comes the aftershock of discontent. Perhaps even with their purchases having been made they are not satisfied. Perhaps the monster spits them out with displeasure written across their faces. To this I cannot testify. I have never been inducted into the great halls of the monetarily unchallenged. I cannot give first hand reports about coming home with something that you do not care about or need but bought anyway for some odd reason. For me it would be foolish, like Lydia Bennet buying a hat she hated because there were several uglier in the shop.
It doesn’t signify what they have in the shops…I am not buying. The only way I could, and I suppose that for most this is a possibility, is to spend money I don’t have. Brilliant! You say… money you don’t have. Credit cards give us the perfect and available source of funding for any worthless item we may have an unfounded desire for. But the monster is only more conniving here. You get what you think you want and you get an enormous bill a month later. I think this only increases the discontent because by the time you shell out the cash (or at least the minimum monthly payment) you are no longer consumed with the euphoria of having acquired something grand (or not so grand, such as the case may be). Then you add onto that the terrible realization that not only are you broke but you now have negative money. What could be more depressing? I am rather thankful that enough of my friends jumped into this pit of despair to render it entirely unappealing to me. I am sorry for them, but not sorry for what I learned from their mistakes.
So, as I said, I am not buying… I have not the funding and I refuse to spend money that I don’t have. I am not even entering such an establishment unless upon a directed mission. And even then, the monster lurks everywhere: clothing, jewelry, shoes, knick knacks…the list goes on. Beside and behind each of these the hungry monster waits, preying on your pleasures, vices, dreams, and desires. And as you leave this monster’s den, you feel as if one of the best parts of yourself has left. And I am sorry to say that it has. Your contentment has been eaten by the Mall Monster. You may grow and cultivate it again, but I would advise keeping it a while and avoiding the fiend who so easily ensnares us in his trap of advertising and sales.