Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Signs of these awful times

You know it's been a long winter when the temperature peaks at 46 degrees Fahrenheit, and you see people golfing.

I'm not kidding. I witnessed just that scene last weekend.

This is the time in our cruel winter season when I ponder the purchase of stock in some heavy-duty skin cream—a time when suddenly, I begin to find greater merit in anti-depressants and sun lamps. Moving somewhere far, far south becomes an increasingly attractive option.

I read recently about a new condition described as "snow rage," or explosive behavior swings caused by a relentlessly cold, wintry season that drags on longer than some people can bear. Except what can I call it when I'm still experiencing the symptoms but there's no snow? My son suggested "salt rage." I'm thinking that plain old rage would cover it some days...

Adding to my rage-cum-depression is the fact that I've been to the mall more in the past 7 days than in the last year. The weather's made me do it. I loathe the mall on principle, yet it provides ample, warm, un-slippery walking space. So I've headed there a couple of times recently, and I plan to do so again before the week is up. It's a safe, free way to raise my heart rate without risking my neck on ice or causing our small, wobbly living room to quake violently while I jiggle and gasp to an exercise beat.

What's so depressing about a mall, you ask? Well, it functions as a cultural outsider alarm for me. Nowhere else do I feel so removed from our twisted vision of modern suburban America. All of my denials about how sick we are as a nation come crashing down on me when I'm walking through a shopping mall. It's sort of like standing near young, lovely, slender girls. I don't enjoy doing that, because it heightens my awareness of just how little I share with those pretties these days. And the mall? Man, do I feel like an interloper there. I'm surprised they let me in.

I stride along those wide, polished floors, past window after window of mostly naked women, young smooth-chinned lads embracing other handsome and hairless boys, flat-chested young females pouting at me with hooded, come-hither glances... We certainly do groom these innocents for tawdry and sultry, don't we? It's not just the over-saturation of sex that appalls me, though. Nearly every store is selling a lie: our furniture will help you relax more completely; this hand soap will transport you to an island getaway. And these pretzels will make you think of an elderly relative who cooked with far too much butter yet so much love. But wait, here's a new gadget with a flashing screen, and it's newer than yours... Do you have high-heeled, open-toed ankle booties like these? Never mind how hideous they are, you need them to complete your designer duds.

The whole place is designed to entice, to beguile, to mislead, and ultimately to separate you from your money. It's all crap, and it deflates the heck out of me.

I really hope the stupid weather improves; I'm about ready to pull a serious groundhog, people.

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