prose sketch: a break in Christmas shopping

Thu 20 Dec 2012 ca. 12:45 p.m. Park Royal South

Triumphal chords of a horn arrangement of “Little Drummer Boy”: a kitschy march behind the thrum of Christmas retailing. A sense of alienation: people becoming gradually more and more mutually irritating animals, each intent on his own purpose, cutting in front of each other, making no eye contact, resentfully buying gifts.

A dull, low-wattage sky is visible through distant bands of clerestory windows high above the mall. Cold rain falls heavily from the dense, low overcast. Inside, a certain impersonal vitality: we’re all here for a purpose. The squeak of soles on these bone tiles, the mechanical tremble of the escalators, and so many different kinds and sources of weak light: bright incandescent stars in the boutique opposite; the backlit freestanding sign like an altar at the head of my little rest area—Chatters salon; 6 massive letters of the Future Shop sign on the level below, glowing like stove burners; milky pies of fluorescent light hanging from the arched ceiling of this arm of the mall. Now: a marimba solo in a big-band tune. A vocalist giving his all: the reign of professionalism.

It’s a great echoing grotto.

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