Thanks all for the birthday wishes. I had a great time. Low key - just the way I like it in my old age.
- Scenes from the mall - Make fun if you want, but I spent the bulk of my actual birthday, Saturday, in a mall. I wanted to treat Mrs. B, whose steadily increasing mom-to-be-induced roundness makes a lot of new clothes necessary. And the truth is I needed a few things too. My game's not complete if my gear isn't complete. Trousers, here, shoes there, a new pocket square here or there. Voila. My wardrobe is whole again. Anyway, I noticed something curious - to me, anyway. There were a lot of dudes walking around the mall wearing tiny shirts. I mean cut off-your-circulation, show-your-navel shirts, the kind the guys in A Night at the Roxbury wore, the kind, in fact, that you used to only see on slicked-back guys in a nightclub. Everywhere Mrs. B and I looked there were grown men walking around in t-shirts and Polos that they must've gotten at Baby Gap or Oshkosh B'Gosh. Did I miss the memo? I guess if I'm gonna keep up with the times I'll have to wash all my tees in scalding hot water and dry 'em on high heat. Following the next laundry cycle (tomorrow), I should be stylish again.
- Stellar examples - I don't have any yet, 'cause I'm not a parent yet. But another thing I noticed in the mall was a huge number of parents cussing at or around their kids. I wanted to choke one woman who was snapping at her boy, who appeared to be about 4- or 5-years-old, telling him to "bring your ass over here," and "don't make me smack the (expletive beginning with SH) out of you!" I've seen this before, but as my day fast approaches I find myself focusing my people-watching on parents w/small kids. I'm no prude, but that can't be good for the kids. I can think of a million bad or embarrassing scenarios that will one day blow up in a parent's face if they walk around swearing cavalierly at/around their kids. What are you gonna say when the neighbor lady says hello and asks your kid how school was and Junior answers "It was effen great!" Is it really necessary? I remember my folks used to get pretty ticked off at me when I was a kid, 'cause like a lot of young kids I was hyper and didn't listen. But they never swore at me. In fact, I don't believe I ever heard them swear, even when they were angry, stressed out, etc. I'm not saying that if they had dropped an F-bomb around me it would have altered my life path and turned me into a criminal. But I can't imagine it would have helped in the civility and character-building areas. I'm just sayin'.
- Pleasantville exists - Seriously, we found the real Pleasantville...in a grocery store, of all places. If you've read this blog before you know I have a love/hate relationship with South Florida. In the two years I've been here, I've grown to love the beaches and the palm trees, the sunshine, and the diverse ethnic and cultural food offerings. Love my job. And I'm not just saying that for management. When I was interviewing for this gig, one editor kept telling me that finding a good story to report down here is like picking ripe fruit, 'cause there's always something going on involving over-the-top personalities. He was right. I could be blind and deaf, and I would still stumble onto a regular flow of good stories. If you've ever read a Carl Hiaasen novel, believe it. People down here are crazy...like that glue. And I mean that in a good way too. I even like that I could wear sandals year-round if I wanted to. But I hate the overcrowding. This entire region is like a cage of horny rabbits. The warm bodies multiply seemingly overnight. Or as Kingfish used to say to Andy (if you're not a nerd like me, or over the age of 45, you might not know the relevance of those two names together) South Florida is like "10 pounds of lard in a five-pound bucket." You can't drive down the street without elderly women wanting to play bumper cars with you. There are so many children, you could lay them down like floor mats and walk on their backs from one end of a block to the other without your feet touching the ground. "Reach out and touch someone" is not an advertising slogan here. It's as easy as lifting your arm and extending a finger. And the crowding is worst in places that everyone needs to be, like the grocery store. Mrs. B and I usually dread going to the grocery. The two closest to us - one regular store and one hippie store - are always packed, from early morning to late evening. Angry people jostling for position, snatching things off shelves like the next hurricane is gonna strike any minute, people ramming you with their carts and then giving you that "What? You were in my way" look. So on a whim we decided to try another grocery that's just as close to our house as our regular spot, but in an inconvenient direction. We drove the extra few minutes to the "new" store, and the clouds parted, and the heavens opened, and sexy angels danced and sang and rolled out a red carpet for us, and pastel-colored unicorns farted pixie dust in the form of flowery perfume. It was perfect! Well, it seemed like that anyway. What made this place great was that it was not crowded. The employees were helpful. And the patrons were considerate. I'm not kidding when I say that every two or three minutes, an employee smiling ear-to-ear would approach, ask how we were doing and ask if we needed help. Someone would accidentally bump our cart and then say "pardon me," or "excuse me," or "I'm sorry." And they'd utter these words while smiling. We'd move to squeeze through a narrow space at the same time as another patron, and that person would say "No, no, you first. I insist!" And then they'd smile and nod and walk on. I swear, people were whistling. All that pleasantness should have felt normal. But we're so used to the opposite, that we thought at first that either the grocery store was a front for a brain-washing cult, or everyone in there was on crack. Turns out folks in there were just really, really nice, and pleasant. I wanted to board up our house and come back with sleeping bags and camping gear and live at the store. The manager probably would have let us. We will be going back to the "Pleasantville" store regularly from now on. And no, I'm not giving you the address.
Labels: birthdays, cussing, grocery stores, malls, overcrowding, parenting, tiny clothing