The Mall, after a Long Absence
So, yesterday being my day off, I headed on up to La Crosse. Got a few pairs of jeans at Farm & Fleet. Then I drifted over to the mall.
And it was weird.
Being in the mall, I mean. Because you see I haven't been to the mall in, I don't know, could be a couple of years now. I just don't frequent places like that.
When I first walked into the mall, it was almost physically disorienting to be in this large, enclosed space with all these people walking around. I felt like a tribesman who had been plucked up out of the heart of the Amazon jungle, and set down in the middle of Times Square.
So many people walking around... living way out in the country as I do, I'm just not used to seeing so many people at once, certainly not so many strangers all at once.
And shops and shops and shops and shops... I couldn't even figure out what some of the shops were selling. Stylish and expensive, whatever it was.
Seeing as it was noon, I headed over to the food court. Stood in line to order some Chinese food. I like Chinese food, don't often have an opportunity to get it. Ended up getting fried rice, Mongolian beef, and orange chicken, plus an egg roll and a gigantic glass bottle of green tea "with ginseng" or somesuch funky additives. Huge amount of food, that was my meal for the rest of the day right there.
Wandering around some more. There were some new cars out on display in the mall, Mazda, silver-grey. Looked a lot like my brother's car.
I discovered that somehow in the vast interim since my last visit, Barnes & Noble had set up shop at the mall. Wandered around in Barnes & Noble.
I sometimes wonder who buys, much less reads, all the books that are sitting out in these large chain bookstores. So very many more books published and for sale today than there were 30 or 40 years ago. And today's world is so much less literate, so much less book-oriented, than that world of 30 or 40 years past. Who reads all these books?
For that matter, I was puzzled by how the books I saw on the shelves seemed to be designed according to a different template than I'd expect would appeal to most readers. Just judging the books by their covers, so many of them were so, so postmodern, ironic, cynical, detached, nudge and a wink, dismissive, countercultural, and did I say postmodern? Visual tics in cover design: overuse of cartoons, overuse of Elizabethan women, overuse of goths, overuse of Rachel Ray.
I did find a couple of books by Jack Kerouac that I didn't already have, The Book of Haikus and The Book of Sketches. I guess the Kerouac literary estate is mining their archives for all they're worth, releasing unpublished material in lucrative dribs and drabs 40 years after Kerouac's death. But never let it be said that I passed up a book by or about Kerouac unbought; and The Book of Sketches, in particular, does look worthwhile.
Over to six bookcases of game books. Two whole bookcases full of Poker books; how did that happen?! I mean, when did Poker become that popular? (Oh, that's right, Poker is on TV now.) One bookcase full of Chess books, that I can understand. Eh, a newly published book on Mah Jongg by Tom Sloper, I bought it, I've seen Sloper's posts over on rec.games.mahjong. Then... half a shelf of books on the game of Go, but I've got 'em all already. One book on Chinese Chess, already got it. And not a single book on Shogi alias Japanese Chess: figures.
So I came away from the unfamiliar world of the mall with a solid meal of Chinese food, and three books to add to my library. Weird. I just can't get over how weird a place like the mall seems when you haven't been to the mall in a couple of years. I gotta get out more.