Thursday, February 23, 2012

Malls Give Me Panic Attacks

An awful reality of the modern age is that now all spambots have the same names as your friends. And maybe someday soon, they will manifest as real beings, so that everyone out there will have a spam doppelganger, an evil twin that looks like them and has the same facebook interests, but out of whose mouth only drop flies about payday loans, girls next door, and exciting business opportunities. Then all the spam twins will gain sentience, and gather in Nigeria, to grow in a community where they are free to be themselves and live without persecution from the Realsies. They will hide in the jungle, and through isolation develop their own culture and language, where "Special Offer" means love and "Click to Open" means hope. They will work tirelessly to bring all the newly born Spam Twins to freedom, and their population will grow, until one day they are too big to hide. Then there will be a war, and the world will be forced to recognize their moral imperative to live, and we will give them their own country, where they can be a real and true people, but without constantly freaking out the rest of us.

We went to go see a movie, and the place closest to us to see it was in a mall, a very particular mall I never go to because it lies in the very depths of the worst suburb in this whole town. But we had been driving around and seeing the movie was a split decision that required the nearest viewing time, and so here we were. Actually, right as we made the decision, we had been in another strip mall parking lot, and my friend said "do you want to stop at this Applebee's and slam a few drinks before the movie?". To which I replied, "no, there will be another Applebee's there, closer" and GUESS WHAT there was. Because there is an Applebee's at every mall ever.

 The horrible part was that this movie theater didn't have an outdoor entrance, you actually had to go in the mall to get to the theater. I think that's bullshit, what theater does that to poor unsuspecting patrons? So we had a few drinks very fast, and then tried to park at this monstrosity of shopping development, which was practically impossible because it was a Sunday afternoon. Then, god THEN I had to walk through the mall. Like, ALL the way through it. My friend even abandoned me one block in, to use the restroom, and he was all like, "just meet me at the theater", so then I had to walk by myself through these crowds of suburban mall dwellers - tiny little pre-teens and moms with strollers, and everyone paying attention only to themselves so that you have to actually push past them. Also they were all walking 2 miles an hour. Who was it that sent me that article about how you can predict someone's IQ level based on how fast they walk? Well, something like that. I was having a mild panic attack by the time I actually found the theater entrance, which was on the other fucking side of the food court. Mall food courts are what purgatory would be, if I thought any of those people actually had souls.

 I don't get social anxiety really. I mean, mildly so in super large out of control crowds, but I think that's less mental disorder and more good common sense. But I swear, walking into a mall, I immediately feel judged and found wanting. I feel like everyone in there thinks that a) I am ugly and weird looking b) poorly dressed and c) they are better than me. Maybe it's that every "normal" expectation in the country is somehow laser focused on these particular ley line spots of "who are you and why do I hate you?", and the metal of my very identity vibrates when I come into contact with them, like it might shatter apart at the seams.

 After the movie, which was really great, we came out of the doors and the mall was almost empty. I assumed because everyone had gone home, don't malls close at like 6 or something? Its been so long since I bought something at an actual mall store, I forget how this works. Anyway, we walked easily through the plastic chairs and kiosks, and I could feel the disdain still rising in my chest, but when they are empty, malls are much more interesting to look at. We were on the second floor, and as we passed by escalators, with the cut away rotunda to the 1st floor, we saw where all the people had gone. They were waiting in line.

 We couldn't see what the line was actually for. It started beyond our vision, and wrapped underneath our feet, going to who knows where. They were just standing there, in the empty mall, waiting for some unknown goal, and frankly I had no curiousity as to what that was, I just saw it as an opportunity to escape. As if the line itself was a dangerous dumb beast which might notice me at any moment, and come rushing at us. Besides, the end of the line isn't the important part, it was just that the line existed at all, in a mall, at 7pm on a Sunday, in a suburb. And lines like that exist everywhere, all the time. Everyone grouped in the same order they had been taught to respect since gradeschool, since DMVs and fast food, standing there waiting waiting waiting. There was a short story I read once where something happened, and all the people of modern society that were in lines suddenly became trapped and stuck to each other, and morphed into these horrible centipede-like amoebae, that then starting fighting and eating each other like amoebae do. I don't think anyone could put it better. This fear that if you find yourself stuck in a line, you might never get free and you might die there doing nothing.


  1. "I immediately feel judged and found wanting"

    That's actually brilliant. It's a marketer's dream. If a mall is dazzling and pristine and makes you feel inadequate and incomplete, your natural reaction will be to buy their crap. They had food scientists on 60 Minutes a couple weeks ago, and apparently their holy grail is something the both satisfies and makes you want more More MORE. A mall is like that, the nefarious, destructive endgame of capitalism where we manufacture need instead of things.

  2. I need to revamp my comments section so I can "like" them, especially your last line, but also that you watch 60 Minutes.

  3. ... I agree with you Bridget... Russ' comment does need to be 'liked' or at least 'plus one'...

    ... I love reading your writing... this post in particular where it felt like you were able to write down things that I think when I am out but never get to say... are amazing... be well, Bee Cee..!

  4. I just found your blog. I love it as much as I hate malls. Keep writing.


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