Monday, March 10, 2008

Apparently, today is Opposite Day.

Paradoxically, when you really think about it, it also sort of isn't Opposite Day. Let us ponder this.

I don't know if I should, like, tell you this, man, but I just had a good experience at the mall. To use the parlance of our times: I know, right? As you are no doubt aware, oh loyal friend that you are, I hate shopping with a passion, and hate malls even more. At this point, I worry for the security of the universe as we know it. Here's how it all went down:

For starters, I was there for work. We need a raffle prize for a business expo thing this week, at which we have a booth. Hence my presence at the mall, on purpose, on a weekday morning. My first clue that something was amiss came almost immediately upon my entering the mall, when my ears were assaulted by the incessant, bubble-gum teenage pop of... Mozart. That's right, this guy. I thought about turning back, then and there. Something was not right. On the other hand, I reasoned to myself, what is not right here is that something is right, in a place where it should be very wrong. Taking heart in that revelation, I swiftly made my way past the jewelry store and the advertisements for whatever's new on the Style Network, to the kiosk that has a map of the mall on it. Blast. My objective is practically on the other side of the mall. How was I supposed to know where to park? I moved at as rapid a pace as was unlikely to be called "running," noting along the way that Abercrombie & Fitch still blast techno and saturate the air in the vicinity of their store with their distinctive musk. I can't abide those clothing retailers. Disgusting creatures! I passed them quickly enough, and once the repetitive dance beat had faded to background noise noticed that ol' Wolfgang was still coming through the main PA. Thank God. Finally, I reached my objective: the Apple Store.

As an aside, I am in no way an Apple fanboy, though I have known some scary ones in my day. I respect Apple for noticing that people who want an aesthetically pleasing computer (women, and some men) were an under-served portion of the market. I sort of like Steve Jobs as a persona. I don't think I'd like him as a person, but he's a smart dude, and I like how he gets behind his product. The way I see it, their products have two main selling points:

1. I'm not sure why, but people who buy their stuff seem to think it gives them license to be smug about it, as if their computer/mp3 player/whatever isn't made from wires and plastic like those other ones, but is somehow carved from a single gem found only on the moon, and harvested by dwarfs riding Pegasus-Unicorn hybrids. This is the main thrust of Apple's ad campaign, so I at least know where they get this idea.

2. They're soooo cute! I personally think that iPods look like they're supposed to be taken as a suppository, but my authority on the relative cuteness of things (and no, she refuses to comment on my own appearance) informs me that to women, an iPod looks how a big hug from a Care Bear would feel. I'm not kidding.

Anyhoo, to return to my story, I found myself in the Apple Store. It was weird. The space was wide open, with a row of high wooden tables going down the center of the room, and display tables along the walls. For a relatively small retail space, it felt quite sparse and roomy, with the interior designed to look something like a spaceship. I was actually able to wander around for a good couple of minutes, eying the wares and all, before a sales rep approached me, to ask if I was being helped, and exactly what kind of clone army I was looking for. I told him what I wanted, and he slowly backed out of the room while bowing, only turning his back on me when he reached the door. He was very polite. A few seconds later he returned, bearing a small (and cute!) box, containing an iPod roughly the size of my toenail. "Ok, I'll take it." I said, glancing around the room for a cash register. There wasn't one. Just more product displays. "Oh, you can check out right here," he said, scanning the iPod's barcode with his Tricorder, and taking my credit card. He produced a bag out of nowhere (seriously, maybe it came out of his sleeve? I don't know), and put the iPod in it while walking me to the front of the store. When we got there, he reached for the underside of a table and produced my receipt. I half expected him to reach behind my ear and pull out another iPod Shuffle. The man was a conjurer, a master of the art--nay, the science--of prestidigitation. He said goodbye to me in the traditional way of his people: "Thank you, come again!"

I strolled out of the store, iPod in hand, and made my way for the exit, humming along with the Mozart. I stopped at the Crackbucks booth on the way out for a tall Americano, just to convince myself that not being miserable whilst in the mall was not some fever-induced hallucination. "Would you like an extra shot of espresso in your coffee? I just poured it and I'll have to throw it away otherwise" said a suspiciously gregarious barista. Before I could contemplate what his ulterior motives might be, I found myself saying "yes, I would." Next thing I knew I was back in my car, merchandise in hand, sipping an extra-strong coffee.

Cous: 2

Monday: 0

Incidentally, I now want one of those iPod Shuffles of my own. I guess they win.