A walk in the mall

messi-badSkinny vs. regular jeans is a discussion for which I have nothing to add.

Fashion as a subject, is a bit like quantum physics to me, I know absolutely nothing about it and have even less of an inclination to spend anytime finding out about it.

From the outside looking in I see a dull, gossamer thin, vacant subject populated with airheads, bulimics and self obsessed cocaine addicts. I don’t like its total focus on aesthetics and the implied substance which comes with it; If you look good, you must be.

Of course I am doing a Hillary Clinton here and being grossly generalistic. I am sure not all in the fashion industry belong in the basket labelled ‘brain power of a retarded red setter’ but from my perspective it does seem this way, that’s all I’m saying.

I do know what bad looks like though.

I can tell when someone, or myself for that matter, looks stupid thankfully. Eddie Izzard was spot on when he explained how close super high fashion comes to looking like a badly dressed peacock during mating season.

In sleeping position terms they would be spooning. Think the fashion model walking down the catwalk with an Antelopes arse on her head and a dress made from reinforced concrete. Think Lady Gaga in her meat dress, think Lionel Messi in his red suit. They all have stepped over the line and moved from spoonie to spooner.

Yes, I did just call the second greatest football player to have ever played the game a spooner.

And yes I am that childish.

I also dislike shopping centers. I cant stand them.

The incessant muzak, polished floors, the attempt to create a normality within an abnormal environment. The trees, the water fountains, coffee shops and nail bars. The heady excitement of a purchase, the short-lived joy when the cashier hands over the bag and wishes you a good day. The crowds. The noise.

Yup, I dislike them immensely.

So you can imagine my horror when I arrived in the local shopping mall last weekend and walked straight into a wall of rock concert level noise and equally impenetrable crowds.

They were having a fashion show and the whole of Switzerland had turned up to watch.

Everyone seemed to be having a grand old time watching the pretty young girls and boys stride out on the catwalk.

The models would effuse confidence, stand at the end of the walkway smiling, or not depending on what they were wearing. They would then turn and walk back to huge cheers and some incomprehensible babble from the commentator. They were being applauded for walking and smiling.

I walk and smile all the time (well sometimes), no one claps me.

It did seem like there were thousands gathered around the bright lights, some surrounding the catwalk area and the rest peering down from the other levels clapping and dribbling over the latest C&A autumn, winter collection.

It was my own fault. I have no one to blame – I went on a Saturday, at 3pm.

Ordinarily on the odd occasion when I do have to go, I will go first thing in the morning or last thing at night. I walk straight to the shop I am there for, buy what I want and leave. I can easily be in and out of a shopping centre in less than five minutes.

The key is research.

Twenty minutes spent online finding the item, the correct shop and then mapping the fastest route from car park to shop is time very well spent. Good non-slip shoes help as well.

Don’t take children with you, don’t say hi to anyone, don’t glance left or right at the shiny pretty objects calling out to you and tempting you like Greek Sirens.

And never, never, never stop for a coffee, or visit drunk.

Christmas is worst possible time. Never go to a shopping mall at Christmas – you will die.

Early morning shopping centers are different places altogether though. I don’t mind them then. They are like the more mature, older and more sensible big brother version of the afternoon variety.

They are quiet and mildly pleasant places, very few people, steel shutters half open and the music set at level civilised. You can walk through safely without any fear of being accosted or having to take a detour to avoid speaking with that person you faintly recognise. They are empty and nice.

I was in a Mid West shopping center once and discovered that early morning elderly people engage in something called ‘walking the mall’. And its exactly that.

They stride around stick legged, clockwise, gripping Nordic walking poles and water bottles sticking out of their bum bags ready to hydrate as soon as they reach the Barnes & Nobel halfway rest point.

I sat there watching the caravan of retirees pass me, surprisingly quickly given their clearly well advanced years. I nodded and smiled as they rushed by. Outside it was deep snow and wind but inside, with the palm trees and blingy mobile phone cover stalls, it remained a constant 22c.

I couldn’t help think ‘only in America’ but then it probably isn’t only in America, its probably everywhere, I just don’t get to see it.

What happens when they leave the mall to take their firm leather skinned arses back to the dodge monster truck parked outside? Does the change in temperature or icy wind shock kill them?

I never found out, or rather there wasn’t a pile of octogenarian bodies heaped at the exit, so I have to assume they survived.

Or perhaps they just live there, sheltering from the harsh winter. And exercising.

Shopping centers were designed to be the perfect consumer kill zone. Get them in and never let them leave. Hit them from all angles with offers of stuff they dont need, fill their bags and don’t ever let them escape. Make the exit signs as small as regulations will allow, don’t line the escalators up, make them walk around to keep going up, or down.

Bombard them from the moment they arrive and keep it up until they do eventually manage to crawl out from under the weight of their bags and run back to the sanctuary of the car park and back into the real world.

And this is why I don’t understand why we all love them and keep flocking back most weekends to engage in ‘retail therapy’.

Which isn’t a real therapy by the way. It’s a phrase invented to give some substance to your act of spending money on stupid things, like fashion or a pink mobile phone cover. Just try buying something useful in a shopping center. Try buying a hammer, or a light bulb, or some soap. You cant.

Anyway from now on I’m going to boycott fashion and all shopping malls entirely.

I am going to either shop online, or at my local shop or possibly not at all.

I’m going to keep wearing my stone wash jeans and tie-dye t-shirts for a few more years.

I would invite you all to join me in this protest.

Only then will we set ourselves free from the retail prison we blindly walk into every weekend. The word ‘sale’ will eventually, over time, mean nothing to us.

Only then will we also be free from religiously following the latest vacuous fashion trend.

And once we have broken these chains will we be able to follow the path towards true happiness, and enlightenment.

You might look like shit but you’ll be happier, and have a lot more money.

To spend on nothing.