Tuesday, June 18, 2013
who rules the world?
I rarely spend much time in malls. What we have in town are really micro-malls. One has Trader Joe's, a Starbucks, a couple of low key restaurants, a Forever 21 and some other small businesses. One has a Whole Foods, a Gap, a Body Works. There is a Target at the opposite end of town, and that's about it. So I don't get much mall experience. However, yesterday I had two or three hours to kill (I'll explain later) and decided to check out the Galleria up in Roseville. This is a gigantic two-story cathedral of commerce with all the name shops under one roof. A couple of years ago it suffered a severe fire but, like the Phoenix, came back better than ever. I walked from one end to the other on the ground floor, checking out both sides, then went upstairs and did the same thing. It took most of my allotted time and I was exhausted. But here's what I learned. We've all heard that Wall Street controls the economy of the country, that our national wealth is based on manufacturing, agribusiness, dot coms, and other forms of entrepreneurial efforts. Not so. What keeps the economy going is teenage spending. Hundreds of teenagers, newly freed from the onus of school, swarmed through this monument to consumption buying up everything they possibly could carry. I was so astonished I had to sit down and watch the parade. In the midst of all of this, three boys, probably about 17, sat down next to me and were chatting about their purchases, whom they ran into, what their plans were for the evening, and so on. They were so animated, so funny, completely unselfconscious, and all very cute, especially the one with the purple hair. Yep, they definitely rule the world.
I actually did see one parent in the swarm of kids. I went to a store to get Mr. C some new T-shirts to replace the faded and frayed ones that make up the majority of his wardrobe. A boy of about 14 or 15 was shopping with his (gasp!) mother, trying on those dreadful long shorts boys wear slung low on the hips. While I was combing the pile of T-shirts, the boy came out of the dressing room in the shorts. The mother said, "OK, pull up your shirt. Now turn around and bend over. NOPE! No butt crack for you. Take them off." I almost applauded. The poor young man was deeply embarrassed at having to perform this humiliating exercise, but he didn't argue and turned around and went back into the dressing room. The mom saw me watching, shook her head ruefully and said, "What is he thinking??"
This reminded me of my friend Diane Nelson who was at boarding school with me but only during our freshman year. She was from Tucson and I went to visit her during the Christmas holidays a couple of times. She had a very, VERY strict father who controlled every aspect of her life. One year when I was there we went shopping for a party dress. She fell in love with one, brought it home for inspection, and modeled it for her father. He did the same thing: "Let me see the back. Now let me see the front. Now bend over. No, too low. Take it back." Diane burst into tears but he was not moved. As I recall the dress had a pretty high neckline; I had no idea what the objection was but back it went.
Here's why I was at the mall in the first place. Mr. C had a little surgery on his left eye at the Kaiser hospital in Roseville. He had what's called a macular pucker that was giving him a dead spot in the center of his vision. So yesterday he went under the knife to repair this problem. He came through the procedure just fine, everybody seemed to think it was a total success. But now his vision is very blurry and will be for a few weeks. There is no consensus on whether or not his vision will be perfectly restored. It will take some time before he'll know. He went back for a post-op exam today and all is well. Now he waits.