Friday, January 25, 2013

But I'm a creep.

Yes friends, I did just reference a Radiohead song because it sums up exactly how I felt earlier today. What exactly made me feel like a creep? Two words: The mall.

What the hell am I doing here?

Today's trip wasn't about shopping. It was about getting the kids out of the house. As a family we're finally over the flu/cold from hell, and the kids needed to get out of the house. We've been polite and kept them indoors to avoid contaminating other children, but today was about self preservation. It was either being stuck inside with two kids under five with cabin fever, or unleashing plague remnants upon your unsuspecting children. I chose the latter. 

Yeah, she's got... um... allergies. 

See, here in Southern California, when it rains (which is rare) those of us with kids have to find something for the kids to do. The park is out, so restaurant and mall play places become the go-to destination. So we packed up the kids and went to the mall for some infectious fun. 

I don't belong here.

I honestly can't remember the last time I went shopping in a mall. I don't have style. I don't follow fashion. Most of my clothing consists of comic book character t-shirts and jeans. Not to mention that I wear a bigger size than most stores carry. I'm no tub of lard, but I am far removed from my prime. I can buy some stuff off the rack, but not at stores like Abercrombie or The Gap. Not that I'd shop at those stores, but even if I were smaller, I'm at another disadvantage.

How'd that get in there?

I saw a sign in a jewelry store window advertising a ring that was just $7000. Holy crap! What type of person walks around with a spare seven grand in his/her pocket to drop on a ring, and where can I mug them!? 

The only store I entered was a used book store where I dropped a whopping $4 on kid's books, and See's Candy (see earlier comment about far from prime) for which we had gift cards. However passing by these store fronts and walking through Macy's to the car, I was shocked to see the expensive clothing, jewelry, gadgets, and even $35 men's haircuts. I can't afford this stuff and I don't know many folks who can.

I wish I was special. 

I briefly fell into a moment of self loathing with thoughts like:
  • What's wrong with me? 
  • Clearly some people can afford this stuff. What am I doing wrong? 
  • I need more money. 
  • My clothes are old. 
  • My shoes are beat. 
  • I need to lose some weight. 
  • I need better credit.
  • I have no style. 

Of course then I had the thoughts of greed. I hate wearing jewelry, jackets, layers, or expensive shoes, but I found myself wanting all of those things. Sure I could stand a make over, but on my way through Macy's and back to the car I saw advertisements with pictures of Brad Pitt and AlexanderSkarsgård and suddenly I wanted to be them. I didn't want to trade lives or bodies or anything, (I don't think I'd like being around Angelina Jolie let alone be married to her) but I wanted Hollywood and fame, and fortune. This is not news to anyone. As a writer, I have Hollywood aspirations, but is that the answer?

The self-loathing and greed all happened over a split second. I snapped back to reality and reminded myself that I am happy who I am. Of course I wouldn't turn down more money or a makeover, but is this what advertising does to you? Does it dangle the carrot and make you work harder? Or does it beat you down and make you hate yourself? Perhaps it's both.

I don't care if it hurts. I want to have control.

Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club said, “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes. working jobs we hate, so we can buy shit we don't need.” But do we buy the widget to make ourselves feel better, or do we buy it to stop the pain? Either way it's a temporary fix because the next model, or the next season's fashion is just around the corner. Once it arrives, you will be inferior once more.
Go watch Fight Club or else. 

So a trip to the mall turned into a roller coaster ride. Am I above it all, or just not able to participate? Poor people make it big and immediately fall in line with extreme consumerism. I like to think that I would avoid this trap, but you never know until you have that spare $7000 in your pocket. 

Hate it or love it, I guess the advertiser's mission was accomplished. If I had Alexander Skarsgård money who knows what I would have purchased. I like to think that if Vigilante Project (shameless plug) or one of my stories hit it big, I'd be the same person and retain an outlook similar to my feelings today, but I can't help but wonder if there is an inner Floyd Mayweather Jr. lurking inside me. I hope to find out someday.