Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Galleria Adventures

So my Italian classes are every Tuesday night in the Galleria. In the hidden corner between the old Macy's and Sacks Fifth Avenue. So today and last week, I decided to go explore the mall a bit. Have some grand adventures.

Get my watch batteries changed.

Buy a few things I need.

There are so many beautiful things in the shops. Rich fabrics, sparkling jewels, fragrant perfumes. And so many beautiful people walking around wearing what they've bought shops like these. I'm easily the least expensively turned out person I saw the entire time. I think even the girl in a tank top and running shorts spent more on those clothes, the sandals, and the make up and styling products than I did on my ensemble.

And the shop people can see that about me. I was looking for a pair of Ecco sandals I've seen on line, and would like to buy. Funny how busy all the sales people are when I walk by. If I stop and ask directly, "Excuse me, do you carry Ecco shoes?" They answer me, but it seems to be a great condescension on their part to do so.

Empty, futile, pointless little snobs.

I know it shouldn't bother me, but it's disheartening, a bit. I want to wear soft, luxurious, beautiful clothing, but I can't afford the quality my tastes lean towards, and a lot of that stuff only looks good on sticks. I am not a stick, and I've always been given reason to be happy with my, ahem, shape. :-P

I feel like screaming that the emperor has no clothes. The only person who I think would have understood was the hired pianist in the Nordstrom's, who played beautifully and seemed bored out of his skull. Bored enough to start his next song in tempo with the service phone ringing over the intercom. I was the only one who noticed, and he noticed my noticing, as I almost stopped dead and laughed aloud, moving on with just a stutter-step and a silent chuckle. Nordstrom's doesn't seem to be the place to laugh aloud.

I was even more unsettled as I wandered into the corner between the Ninfa's Express and the Coldstone. I was overcome by the memory of standing in just this spot watching a CNN report on il conclavo, the conclave, after the death of John Paul II. I remember crying a little for the Pope familiar to me from childhood. A man who, in spite of his authority, seemed gentle, thoughful, loving, and open. Deeply prayerful, quietly wise. I didn't know him personally, but he seemed so much warmer and more fatherly than Pope Benedict seems to me now. Tonight I wept again a little inside.

After a while I got sick of the whole charade, and found a quiet corner to read in before my class started. And I wept a little externally for the unfairness of it all. Have you BEEN to the Galleria lately? Versaci, Armani, Kenneth Cole. There are people in this world who go hungry while these beautiful people buy their beautiful clothes, and the shoe sales man in the casual shoe section, who seems lower in the totem pole than the man selling women's dress shoes, sneers at my request for a $70 pair of sandals.

I'm not an ascetic, and I'm not an activist, and I don't think any of the people in the Galleria are evil heartless bastards.

There's just so much I don't understand, and it doesn't seem right, and it overwhelms me sometimes.


Dave said...

I find that if I spend too much time in the Galleria, I get stressed without obvious reason. I think it's sensory overload - all the rapid press of everyone trying to sell me something I don't want or need takes its toll, and I suddenly feel the desire to just *get out.* Maybe there's hope for me.

I know what you mean about clothes. For me it's a matter of not feeling the necessity - I have little desire to present an image of flash and crease. If I look good and feel good, that's enough, and it doesn't matter to me how much I paid. Plus I just can't tell the difference - these days my favorite suit is my cheapest one.

Maybe I need a fashion consultant. Or a guest appearance on Queer Eye. :-P

William said...

My last n pairs of shoes come from Target. Anyone who would judge my outfit because it (didn't) come from a particular store is probably not someone worth my time. I set foot in the Galleria for the first time in ages not long ago, and I immediately remembered why I dislike the place.

Spot on.