Kathy inadvertently reminds me to share my mall story with the unsuspecting.
I had to go to the Don't Miss The Fact That We're The Upscale Mall two nights ago (I'm embarrassed to admit it's just five minutes away) because Williams-Sonoma is the only place that sells canel knives. A canel knife is a zester with a single slot about the size of the sharpened end of a pencil, and you can use it to make long strips of citrus or to turn lemons and oranges into festive, edible barber-pole-looking deals. Pretty cool, and I'm always losing mine, and I need one for the holidays. So off I go, and the friggin' place is crowded, which, among the Quality, does not mean you're in danger of actually rubbing elbows with anyone. It just means there's no parking.
So I had to park way the hell away from the place, which was no real problem, but because I had to enter through an unaccustomed door I got thoroughly lost and had to wander around for ten minutes. (I don't go there often, reader, and I generally head straight for one of three stores which are all in the same general vicinity.) The goddam place covers four city blocks and it's connected in the middle by a crosswalk, and I had to find my way over that before I could get my bearings.
Anyway, the place is pumping something like eight different varieties of cheap cologne through the ventilation system, either simultaneously or on a region by region basis which amounts to the same thing. I finally stopped off and asked the concierge--yes, they have a concierge!--if they had any complimentary oxygen available. While I was at it I was gonna ask her if she'd be good enough to ring the footman and have him bring the cabriolet around to the nearest exit, but I figured that would have been lost on her, plus I honestly didn't know how much breathable air I had left.
The other thing about Snootland Mall is that the way to two of those three stores I patronize on occasion is blocked by the massive viral infection of an Abercrombie & Fitch, and if you've ever owned property in a neighborhood where one house was owned by toothless inbreds, and watched your resale value plummet on a monthly basis as more automotive parts found their permanent resting place in the front yard you have some idea how I feel every time I try to pass the place with my good humor intact. At some point they decided to light the place solely with the power indicator lights of the cash registers, and they replaced the 100 decibel crap-rock soundtrack with 110 decibel Eurotrash disco. This time through I found the windows had all been covered by enormous flat-black louvres originally designed as props for Fritz Lang's Metropolis, and the single opening to the store buffered by a six-foot Wall Street Journal gravure print of a topless ambisexual young man lit by a couple of appliance bulbs, which made it stand out like a beacon by comparison. No merchandise whatsoever visible from the outside of the store. How hip. How inside. Just you, and I, and fifty million other Americans are in on the secret merchandise A&F has for us, back there in the Dark.
So now I'm not just nauseated by the fumes and deafened by some German woman with a two-note vocal range telling me she wants me, or vants me, I've got transient global cultural vertigo as well, and I'm gonna have to pass back by that way if I ever hope to find my way out again.
I think it must have come to me in the restive sleep that followed, but it took until this morning for the plan to crystalize. I'm gonna gain about 80 pounds, like DeNiro in Raging Bull, pull on some really tight clothing, unbuttoned to the navel, a bad toupee, and some earplugs, and yell, "Do you have this in XXXXL?" and "Wow, could you tell me who's singing this? I really like it!" at all the clerks until they quit en masse. Which, by my calculations, should take about ten minutes.