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2:05 p.m. - 2010-12-24
Adventures in Christmas Shopping 2010

Yesterday's shopping was quite the adventure. Fun. But tiring. I'm not used to being out in big crowds of people and all their combined psychic energy and noise can get overwhelming after a while. Not that this makes me a special snowflake, most people get weary in crowds, even those who don't 'hear' the way I do. But those of you who share this kind of spidey sense know exactly what I mean. It's the primary reason that when I do go out to crowded venues I try to go to happy places and events. It's far easier for me to be smushed amongst a horde of folks watching the fireworks over the ocean on the boardwalk at Seaside than it is to be in a similarly smooshed crowd at Penn Station. A crowd willingly gathered to enjoy something is a breeze. Disney World, for example, truly is The Happiest Place on Earth. Being at Disney almost gets me high, I just waft along on the buoyant cloud of Walt Wonder coming off everybody. Unlike being at Penn Station where the combined anxiety of several thousand people all wanting not to miss their train, not wanting to be late to work or who are aching to get home is so psychically punishing it's almost a physical pain. A smack right in my third eye.

Anyhoodle, the shopping.

Oddly enough the couple things we needed to pick up at the mall were NOT gifts. My hair is bugging me- overgrown, shapeless, and back to its original blech boring brown. I swear, I'm the only person I know whose hair grows in monotone. A scant few random greys, but nowhere near enough to make a statement. The rest is the exact dull matte brown of a desiccated dog turd. No natural highlights. None. I'm not kidding. Cement has more gloss and color variety than my hair. So off to Hot Topic for a 40% bleach kit and the beauty supply store for a tipping cap. Today with Mick's help I'm going to streak my hair and cut it. The bleaching an arduous smelly process that'll take up most of the afternoon. Like the aforementioned cement, my horrible hair color doesn't willingly budge. The combined application 40% peroxide, heat, and brute persistence is the hairstyling equivalent of a jackhammer.

The other purchase at the mall was a new neck-chain for Mick's pentacle. While the buying of jewelry is usually a festive and gifty sort of purchase this one was strictly business. After years of hard use his old chain had started to give the back of his neck a horrible rash. The chain needed to be replaced pronto. Last week the rash got so bad I insisted he take the chain off to let his neck heal and he carried the pentacle with him in his wallet, but neither of us liked it much. I know my love and protection goes with him with or without that star shape of silver and onyx hanging around his neck, as does Mick, but he said he felt more naked without his pentacle than he did without his clothes. Talismans like Mick's pentacle serve more purpose than just being a decorative statement of one's beliefs, they also bring comfort and security to the wearer.

After a bit of browsing through a couple bling stores we found a nice silver chain at the same jewelry kiosk where Mick had gotten his ears pierced. Heh, it's a 24" chain and on Mick it's barely longer than a choker. But the important thing is Mick's talisman is back where it belongs and all is right again.

As you can imagine, the traffic yesterday in Malltown was brutal. When we left the mall we avoided the main routes out (which were backed up to hell and beyond) and ducked down a usually unnoticed and untrafficked side road. Operative word here being 'usually'. Of course this narrow lane was clogged too. And instead of being harnessed and regulated by traffic lights like the main routes, this road just has a stop sign at the end, thus making it a slow and chancy business when trying to exit onto the busy cross road the narrow lane dumps out on. However the line moved ahead fairly well. Up at the far end the cars were splitting into two self-made lanes, one for those turning left and one to the right. Until you're very near the end of that narrow road there simply isn't room to make two lanes, something quite obvious to the 30 or so drivers in front of us who were patiently waiting in tidy single file for their turn to get to the stop sign, but something that completely escaped the belligerent asshole in the big dually pickup truck behind us. This guy was this )( close to our back bumper. Whenever the line moved up the bully driver steered to one side or the other, doing his best to FORCE his way past us, but there was nowhere to go! So he'd crawl up on our rear bumper again, all the while shaking his fists at us and making faces and generally making it clear that we, and we alone were stupidly and deliberately impeding his very important self from getting to where HE wanted to go.

Now back in the days before Mick learned the art of LA Zen this kind of thing would have set him off. No doubt after a few minutes of this jerk's vehicular bullying Mick would have boiled out of the car, gone over to the truck, pulled the driver out and beaten him into a bloody smear. At the very least Mick's rage would have more than matched the pickup driver's and the war would be on. Mick maneuvering his car in such a way as to bring about the maximum amount of aggravation to the tailgating butthead. Stalling, blocking, brake checking, and doing plenty of his own fist shaking and obscene hand gesturing.

However, these days Mick's mellow is the genuine article. He was astonished and amused by the angry antics behind us. Rather tickled, actually, over seeing for himself how futile and stupid the guy's behavior was. Instead of getting his macho Irish dander up, Mick was most pleased to have this example of how well his new life philosophy serves him. Mick wasn't angry. He wasn't threatened. He wasn't going to play that bullying git's game. At all. We just kept on keeping on, rolling forward when we could and waiting nicely when halted. And occasionally getting a good giggle off the jerk behind us and his idiotic road rage that got him exactly nothing and nowhere.

We did get to the corner and made our turn to the right and so did the jerk behind us, blowing through the stop in a blare of horns and squealing brakes. The cross road widened out to two lanes and the pickup barreled up beside us whereupon the driver flipped Mick the bird and then roared off in a cloud of outraged angry diesel fumes. I cracked up. And Mick joined me. I snorted as Mr Angry Truck began his assault on the cars in the other lane and prophesied that we'd catch right back up to him within a couple minutes. And so it was. Not three traffic lights later we were once again right beside the terrorizing truckmeister and in a spasm of holiday goodwill Mick and I waved merrily and blew him some kisses. When the light changed we made our turn to the right while the truck driver barged straight ahead, no doubt to continue spreading his righteous anger all the way home where he then leapt from his truck, kicked the dog, told his next-door neighbor to fuck off and die and went inside to beat his wife.

What a sweetheart.

Here is where I have to admit I did my own bit of holiday bullying. (*blushing madly*)

After the mall our exhausting quest took us to several more stores in other plazas and by the time we got to our last stop, Kohl's, I was beat. Aching to get home. Away from the crowds. The traffic. The relentless scurrying and bustle of zillions of people on a mission.

This Kohl's is a single floor, but has an entrance on a lower level from the back parking area. The original mall it's built into is set into a hill and the front of the plaza is the upper level and around back is a whole other string of stores beneath. Which is where we'd finished our other shopping. In the rapidly darkening cold we trudged over to the lower entrance and got on the escalator. The gift card for MIL glowing in my mind like a grail. We got to the top and to my huge delight directly to our right were what seemed to be nearly empty check-outs! Intent on getting this last errand done I made a beeline for the nearest register. Stepping up behind the woman being rung up I sifted through the various styles of gift cards and made my choice, smiling happily at the clerk and beaming at Mick over the seeming ease of this purchase. Mick is gawping at me and starting to giggle. I wondered what the deal was. Then I looked around and realized why the check-out lines were so 'short'. Over past the farthest register was a line. A queue of laden shoppers stretching waaaaaaaaaay back to the far wall of the sales floor before curving away into an infinity of people waiting to be rung up. A supervisor of some sort was in charge of the queue and was patiently directing the shoppers into the register aisles one at a time as they became available. The misery rising up from this long, long, long line of customers was palpable and bordering on hostile.

Now what would you do? Honestly. What would you do? The right and fair thing would have been to take my gift card and slope off until I found the end of the queue and get in it to wait my turn.

What did I do? I widened my daffy smile and began burbling happily about how, ohmygosh! I'd never bought a gift card before! Is this what you do? Just pick one and pay for it here? Cool! This is so great! I grinned at the clerk. I stretched an even bigger grin like a dementedly cheerful crazy cat lady at the astonished supervisor and waited there bold as brass to pay for the gift card. Thereby jumping ahead of the ENTIRE line! Mick by now was almost gagging on his terror and dismay over my insane line cutting. Through my daffy smile I hissed at him to be cool, that I knew what I was doing and we'd be gone in mere moments. Making a clean getaway long before the lynch mob could form and string me up.

And that, my friends, is exactly how it went down. The clerk, the supervisor, even the queued up customers were so bamboozled by this outrageous display of supposed cluelessness and sheer gall that not a one of them objected or tried to stop me. The flummoxed clerk rang me up while the confused supervisor blinked rapidly several times before giving me a small grin of her own. Whether she was genuinely amused by my audacious performance or simply congratulating me for beating her and the system I do not know.

Bing. Bang. Boom. 45 seconds later the card was paid for and Mick and I were back on the escalator heading for the exit at full speed.

Once safely out of the store and into the parking lot Mick whooped with shocked laughter over my stunt. Mick couldn't believe that Ms Nice, his darling girl who lives by the Golden Rule and has an overweening sense of fair play had just scammed an entire store full of Christmas shoppers. Cutting ahead of dozens, possibly even a hundred people who'd all been doing the right thing and waiting patiently in that horribly long line, even though they, too, were tired and wanting to go home.

"Baby! I can't believe you just did that! And nobody said a thing! You totally got away with it! Wow! If you were a guy you'd have balls the size of coconuts."

I gave Mick another grin, a rather fiendish one, and explained that's exactly why I try to be so ethical. Released from my self-imposed morality I'd be a complete monster. I could get away with crap like that all the time if I wanted to. I am half gypsy and scam artistry is in my blood. A millennium's worth of selective breeding and honing of our skills producing generation after generation of ever more clever hustlers, con artists and horse thieves. Outward white girl that I am when I chose to I can scam the gadje and be gone with my spoils long before the marks know what hit them.

The point is that 99.9% of the time I choose to play by the rules. Not dissing my heritage so much as opting to go along with the larger society because I want to. Because too many other things about me put me on the outside already and it feels good to be part of something. I like being a regular person. An honest citizen. There's merit in being ordinary, even in the US, which supposedly covets and rewards the exceptional and the mavericks.

Just because I can do a thing doesn't mean I should.
Something Bernie Madoff, Jack Abramoff, and Tom Delay learned too late.


Now, my darling friends, it's time to let you go back to your celebrations, whatever holiday or creed is yours.


Wishing you a very merry. ~LA, Mick and Wolf

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