I recently found myself in a geographical conundrum. I was faced with two unpleasant prospects in order to get to some public transportation. I could cut across a mall or I could walk a mile and a half to circumvent it. I looked at the unwelcoming mall entrance and pondered the vagaries of urban planning that would allow a large sprawling mall to be thrust smack dab in the middle of a large urban setting.
I took a deep breath as I steeled my resolve and headed for the mall entrance. Upon entering I was reminded as to why I hate all malls as the oppressive atmosphere bore down on me. It seems that when you have seen one mall, you have seen them all, but this particular one felt more insidious. It's labyrinthine layout seemed to ensure that one would wander around aimlessly for hours. Once inside I lost all sense of direction and felt my anxiety growing as I searched for the exit at the opposite end.
I only gave perfunctory glances to the window displays because I instinctively knew that there was nothing in that mall that I needed nor wanted. It all became a blur of expensive jewelery, tacky clothing, ugly shoes and trinkets. I deftly made my way to the throngs of people that were walking zombie-like as they desperately tried to spend all their money. This was hurting my eyeballs because I rarely see people dressed that way and I wondered if I was still on planet Earth. It is hard to describe, but that day, it was me who was the freak, judging by the strange looks I was garnering. I guess they don't get too many greasers down at Metrotown.
Fortunately, a friend of mine lives close by and I escaped the moribund embrace of the mall, I decided to give him a call. My buddy Steve is a bluesmaster extraordinaire, so I knew that he would have some good tunes on hand. A few cups of coffee, guitar talkin' and blues tunin' made me feel relatively normal again and I was on my way. My foray through the bowels of the mall made me realize something; dudes hate to shop.
It's not that we hate to shop altogether. There is a place out in the 'burbs that has every tool imaginable and some I've never even heard of. I could spend hours there just looking around even if I am not buying anything. They always seem to have a tent set up where they grill smoked sausages and hand them out for free. As a bonus, there is another building out back that has a bunch of old cars in various state of disrepair parked around it and sells an alluring mish-mash of old car parts. Some are random, some are useless but it's fun to just hang out. That's what I call shopping. In contrast, one can go to The Home Depot who's motto should be "Nobody Knows Nuthin"
They too have very little of what I need, but sometimes I need emergency nuts and bolts. Projects often come to a grinding halt for lack of a couple of bolts and it always seems to happen on a Sunday. I am therefore forced to make my way to the local Home Depot. I don't like going in there because the lay out is confusing and it is difficult to find what you are looking for, When I finally do find the nuts and bolts aisle I have to fish around for the right sizes. When I do find what I am looking for, I must suffer the indignation of counting them, putting them into little plastic bags and writing the code on the bag which is easier said than done. There never seems to be a level writing surface and it's pretty tricky trying to write on a lumpy bag filled with nuts and bolts, If I require something a little different, say metric fasteners, when I finally do manage to find an orange-clad clerk, I am met with blank stares.
After having spent way too much time gathering the scant supplies that I needed I am confronted with the final insult of self-checkout. This is akin to flying the Space Shuttle and never seems to work the first time out. A shitload of hassles for $2.43 worth of nuts and bolts.
Clothes shopping is simple for me. My friend at Hitz Boutique supplies me with Converse, my Buddy at Ironhead supplies me with cool t-shirts, Levi's at the Levi's store, same size same price same shelf and the occasional foray into a vintage store. The Levi's store always has the what I want, I just grab the right size, pay and get out. I'm glad it's that easy because trying on pants in a store is pretty close to taking your pants off in public. What I really hate however, is shopping for underwear. Everybody needs them. Well everybody except hippies because they can't be bothered by pesky underwear or basic hygiene, but everyone else has to buy them once in a while. There always seems to be someone eyeballin' you when you are purchasing underwear. I don't know what they find so intriguing about other people's underwear choices, but it's annoying. The cashier always seems to smirk when ringing them up as well. It seems juvenile that people are smirking about underwear, that's why it's best to buy them in bulk, that way you will only have to endure that uncomfortable experience once a year.
An other necessary evil is the drugstore.Every dude has to do it once in a while to get basic dude things like shaving supplies and Mennen Speed stick. Some demented merchandisers must derive perverse pleasure in placing these essential dude products as they always seem to adjacent or directly across from feminine hygiene products. It's innate in all dudes, these just make us uncomfortable. I can't explain why, maybe it's encoded in our genes dating back to prehistoric times. The involuntary response is we just need to get the fuck outta that aisle fast!
Trips to the drugstore always end up being expensive. Throw in some vitamins and some batteries and you will be forking over lots of cash. I wonder if it's the same insane merchandisers who package batteries in packs of 4 when all you need is 2. Sometimes a clerk will try to sell you on the benefit of a 24 pack, I don't need no stinking 24 batteries. My remote is dead and I only want 2.
Similar to underwear, people always seem to have an undue curiosity about your purchase. I, on the other hand, make a concerted effort to ignore what people ahead of me are buying. I really don't want to know that person ahead of me has crabs, festering pustules or needs anti-psychotic medication.
When it is finally my turn at the till, I just want to pay and get the hell out of there, but I can't help noticing the weird stares as some people see the 12 cans of Murrays on the counter. If one plops down 12 boxes of Hamburger Helper on the counter, people will generally give a look that tacitly says "poor helpless retard". 12 cans of Murray's throws them off completely.
Not all shopping experiences are unpleasant. I used to enjoy spending Saturday afternoons at the Virgin Superstore and finding good music, but the CD store seems to have the way of the dinosaur. People still play musical instruments though, so a trip to down to the music store to get some new strings is always pleasant. I have a friend who has a bike shop situated in an old house. On Friday afternoons I can often be found there hanging out and drinking beers while checking out some vintage bikes. Old school and civilized. Pretty sure that folks down at Ikea would frown on that. Bring a six pack and grab a seat on the "Schweiin" and put your feet up on the "Kraap" crack a beer and put it on the "Tuurd" table and they will bounce you out of there quicker than a Swedish meatball. It might not be so quick, because even the staff at Ikea can't find the exit.
I won't be doing any kind of shopping for a while, because I can't really think of anything I need, This evening however, I will be doing my favorite shopping of all: down to the ole liquor store.