Shopping malls make me want to kill people. There was no avoiding it though. Sometimes you have to go to the mall. This time the reason seemed harmless enough. My mother-in-law very nicely bought me a maternity shirt that was a little too bright and a little too snug. True to family tradition it came with an apology and an exchange receipt. When Adi received a too snug shirt for his birthday, I bravely volunteered to exchange it for him to avoid exacerbating his annoyance at the injustice of it all. That time I got off lucky, going to an outlet of the store in question at a strip mall across from The Mall. I had to add more money to get him a shirt in his size, but still, I could park and go in and out before being overtaken by Mall Mania.
This time I had no choice. Since they were still serving airline-type food in packages at work (the kitchen wasn't yet back up to speed), I thought I'd brighten the grim mall experience with a trip to McyD's. It was a disappointment, except for the fries which are a delight. I had a chocolate milkshake which was really not as yummy as I'd rememberd 'em. Not that stopped me slurping every drop. At least they have a separate restaurant space with doors. It is a sad situation when the screams of children (heard in McDonald's) are highly preferable to the irritating music + constant inane advertisements for horrible mall stores (heard in the mall proper).
Then the store. The maternity clothes were part of a new "For TWO" line of the Israeli big size clothing chain, "Matim Li" or "ML" according to their chic logo. Overpriced, their style is not too bad as plus sizes go. But they didn't get it in the maternity line. I need clothes that are bigger. Not bigger AND uglier.
desperate after the pushy sales girl got me to try on items costing three times the exchange value, I called Carla from the dressing room for retail therapy support. She
is a power shopper AND has relevant retail combat experience as a GAP employee.
"Just get a mumu," she advised. She was only partially kidding about the mumu. Her main point was that I should just get *something* and get outta Dodge. I snagged a 3/4 sleeve tie-died t-shirt thing at the same price as my gift-shirt and busted out, smiling.
Malls raise the ever-popular nature vs. Nurture debate. Do mall rats naturally flock to malls? Or does the existence of a mall spawn more mall rats? I put this question to Bro and Charles via email.
Maybe this is why the terrorists so often blow themselves up in shopping
malls. It is not because they hate the Zionist invaders so much or because
of the heat, but instead it is the soul sucking lighting and heart shedding
music that makes them so eager to kill themselves and others. Some might
even see them as doing a favor to the poor people who have to work in malls
and face this reality everyday!
He also expressed concern about the mumu recommendation:
I believe the baby is supposed to start putting pressure on your spinal cord thereby cutting off vital neural impulses to the brain which will render you
unable to distinguish between nice looking clothes and circus tents. Maybe
if you spend more time in the mall this process will be sped up a bit. If
not do not worry it just means that your child's exceptional intelligence is
augmenting your now impeded brain.
Do not listen to Carla! Do not buy a mumu Cholent will be unhappy!
Back to the subject of this blog which is risissim or the residual impact, the messy shrapnel of the war. So my Tuesday was tough and for Adi it was Wednesday that was bad.
He went to his parents' house again for more shiva and to study.
"How did I live at home?" he asked me. He had been interrupted and embarrassed when his mother loudly offered him lunch during a call with a professor he admires.
"You're a grown up now," I told him. "You got used to living in your own house, by your own rules." I was sorry his day sucked but was happy knowing he feels at home in our place, the house I bought, renovated and decorated. The house I adapted to accommodate him, the place he moved to directly from his parents house. Sometimes I worry that it may not reflect his choices. Sometimes I am jealous that he never had to buy his own silverware or lighting fixtures.
He was really, realy frustrated by his day and it took him a long time to cool down. I did everything I could think of to put him in a good mood for our first birthing class which like most fathers-to-be I'm sure he agreed to only because he knew that to refuse would be really unfair. I'm the one who puked for three months, I'm the one getting fat, and you won't even go to a dumb class? Don't even go there.
The Birthing Class
I'm sure I'll write more about it as we go. For now I'll just report that it was fine. Afterwards, to reward Adi I made him a rare offer.
"OK, because you love it, just this once, I will now let you gossip wantonly about anyone in the class!" He was so stunned at this unexpected gift that he was unable to be truly cruel or cynical.
"Well," he ventured, "I think I have a more interesting occupation than any of the boys." No arguments there. Most of the other guys were (boring!) electrical engineers (example: high tech computer programmers like). The exceptions were a guy who had his own gym equipment business and another who works for the electric company.
"No doubt." I agreed. When my turn came, I had mentioned MegaCorp by name. I don't always do that. Sometimes I say "I work in high tech" or "I work in computers" or "I work at Matam (name of my industrial park)" or "I work as a technical writer". It depends on the audience. But if they were throwing around their Towers and Elbits, I was going to weigh in.
The seven women had slightly more diverse stories. But I was more concerned with the fact that though we have the latest due date in the group, I felt like I was the fattest. I shared my concern with Adi.
"Are you kidding?" he asked. "You are the SMALLEST. And the cutest." I beamed. He is great at boosting pregnancy beauty self-esteem.
"Well," I said, "You were the cutest boy!"
"I think I was also the youngest boy," Adi observed. No doubt true. And though I didn't think about it until now, I'm sure I was the oldest girl. Israelis in our Haifa socio-economic sphere are pretty darn predictable in their coupling and breeding patterns.
That night both of us slept badly. We couldn't get to sleep.
"I'm afraid there will be a siren," I said around midnight when we were getting ready for bed. It was totally irrational. Not only hadn't there been sirens for days (well, two days anyway), there had only been one siren we heard in Haifa after dark. Ever.
"I know," said Adi. "It's hard. It's hard to get back to normal."
"I think that's part of why you had such a hard day today," I agreed. And why the mall mauled me more than usual, I thought.
Just then a little beebee-sized chunk of glass caught my eye. It was lying in the empty laundry basket where I'd tossed my maternity jeans before folding them and putting them away. I picked it up for inspection.
"Where did that come from?" Adi asked.
"Looks like the ones from my building," I decided, "but how did it get here? It must have gotten caught in my pants." Pretty weird and pretty disturbing.
Just like that little physical remainder, our psyches are marred by little beebee-sized reminders that seem to come out of nowhere.