After some day-after-National-Hangover-day laziness (the joyful indolence of those who did not have the Hangover to begin with), @WendyBuske and I reluctantly ventured out into the world of commerce. Boy, was that an ill-thought plan.
Fairview Heights is the primary center of commerce for the Illinois-side of the St. Louis metro area. During the holiday season it becomes a national disaster, as Christmas shoppers dog pile on sale racks and litter Highway 64 with fender benders. You’d expect the pandemonium to slow down a bit, though, after little J.C. exits the virginal boy-howdy and the world drinks away the pain of another year. And you’d be wrong.
There’s an impolite compound phrase, the pairing of simian and feces, which is the only appropriate term for the mess we encountered out and about today. I finished up my holiday gift buying a few days before Christmas, and it hadn’t been this bad. It was like Robert Pattinson was hosting Macy’s white sale – just knee deep in crazy.
Wanna kill any hope or respect for humanity? Go hang out at any retail chain this weekend. Be honest – if the undead rose up in legion to devour the blank-eyed, drooling masses at the shopping mall, you’d be rooting for the zombies. That is, if you could tell the difference between the two groups…
When I was a kid, I remember folks talking down people on the coasts, particularly fast-paced New York and plastic, narcissistic Los Angeles, focused on their lack of friendly decorum. “Nobody’ll even hold a door for you, or give you the time of day,” my small town denizens would remark knowingly. “Here in the Midwest, we’ve still got manners. People have a kind word to spare, know how to be considerate.”
And then we all ejected Pleasantville from the Blu-Ray and dared to step foot in public – just in time to be mowed down by a 65 year old woman dressed like a college girl (oh, gawd, the tights – they burn my eyes!), hell-bent for clearance at Bed Bath & Beyond.
Nothing will kill that old sentimental attachment to Midwestern Hospitality than a day getting pushed aside, elbowed, mean-mugged and bulldozed by your fellow consumers. I’ve grown used to the low number of people who say thanks when I hold a door for them (and the fewer still that will hold it for me). I’ve learned to deal with dirty looks from quatro-moms when their unattended children rebound off my leg in the Target aisles. But these people today, their uncanny valley stare, their aggressive yet directionless trajectories, their disregard for traffic signs and lights, their gumption to cough right in your face without any attempt to cover their germ-spewing maws…
Seriously, I’m 6’1”, 250 pounds of blue-eyed, broad shouldered, pissed off consumer. How can you stare straight at me while playing a game of pedestrian chicken without registering my existence until the point of collision, only to give me the evil eye when I step aside? You should be goram grateful I didn’t body check you into that endcap of iPod stereo alarm clocks.
Midwest politeness, my ass.
But… I’m sleeping tonight on Calvin Kline* pillows ($16.99 at Marshalls!), so I’m feelin’ alright.