Help for Men Who Sit on Benches in Shopping Malls
Writer's note: My goal one day is to have people appreciating the text in my hubs more than the photos. (Kenneth Avery).
Ever dream of watching a human treadmill? Visit any shopping mall, get a seat—any seat, and watch. That’s it. People are, without realizing, are going around and around in a perpetual-circle—looking, yakking, pointing, walking, just like a treadmill that never stops.
I used to wonder at why designers of these “male torture chambers,” had benches installed in strategic-places almost everywhere you look. Then one day I noticed all men were sitting stationary hypnotized at watching the “shopper’s treadmill,” weaving its spell. Sad souls, these men. Secretly-praying to God to let their wives finish their shopping so “he” could get home to sit some more—watching his favorite NFL team until he shakes hands with his good friend, “the sandman.”
As a guy, I try to be different wherever I am. Wherever I go, I want to be different and not a silent-member of the herd who follow the leader with a blind trust. Being different is not the same as standing out from the crowd. Being different for me is making the captive crowd on the “shoppers treadmill,” be aware of their surroundings, wake-up, and soon, be different too.
I almost wrote some ad copy for the agency who represents Dr Pepper.
Why men sit on the benches in malls is simple. Boredom. Pure, unvarnished boredom. What heterosexual man “likes” to shop for women’s “unmentionables,” with his wife? And hold up pair after pair comparing colors, sizes, texture and waistband durability? If you men are afraid to answer, I will. None.
The "human treadmill" in infancy stages
Time nor mall wait on no man
Well, with the notable-exception of the newlywed groom who still is sensitive-enough to at least try to share a new, uncharted territory with his new wife. I got to hand it to newlywed grooms. They all know how to start-off a marriage in the right way.
I did, 39-years ago this June, share shopping excursions with my newlywed bride. But that soon was thwarted with a saleslady (what we called them in 1975), either had the nerve to ask me or just wanted me to leave by asking, “What size do you wear, sir?” pointing to ladies’ briefs. My wife laughed and turned red with embarrassment. M y first thought was to scram. Then my natural-talent for show business kicked-in and I replied unshaken, “Twelve if you have them in stock.”
Ahhh, good times.
Years passed and I grew older. My desire to visit shopping malls started to decline. I tried hiding it from my wife, but her female intuition sensed that for me to go shopping was the equivalent to asking me to pave a road, not likely to happen.
So without any reason to visit any store in the mall my wife liked to shop, well maybe a Radio Shack if they had one, but normally I just grabbed a $4-dollar cup of coffee and sat away my life on a bench. Not a bad deal if you stop to think of it. Where else can a man “just” sit, talk to other guys if he wants, and drink expensive coffee and not feel guilty?
Then something dangerous began to happen. I started thinking of small, non-terroristic ways to entertain people, for lack of a better phrase, in the mall without being hauled-off to the hoosegow. It was tough I have to admit. Homeland Security is on-point no matter where we go or hang-out these days. If you knew me you would know that I would hate to be interrogated for three-hours by Bruce Willis-looking Homeland Security agents in black RayBans and suits, with short haircuts asking me over and over, “Why were you making animal shadows on the trash bin, Mr. Avery?”
Escalators are just diversions for those on the "Human Treadmill"
Men who sit on the benches in shopping malls:
I am with you one-hundred percent. It goes get boring and really pointless for you to have to sit on a hard mall bench (some are plastic) while your wife takes her leisurely time shopping for a pair of shoes that will match the new dress she will start shopping for in an hour or two.
I admire you men for your Biblical Job-like patience. I really do. I do not possess such patience. I admit that.
If I need an item or two from a shopping mall, my wife and I get out of her car, while I go to retrieve my items, she does some shopping . . .with the dual-agreement on a set-time for both of us to arrive back at a certain spot.
But, to show her that I am not an ogre, I will, like clockwork, ask, "Honey, if you are not finished shopping, I will go over there and sit down to look at these items."
Sharing. What a novel idea.
More with my friend from Homeland Security
Naturally I would have to reply, “Was I that good?”
And the interrogation would continue.
Homeland agent: “Shut up, you terrorist-wannabe! No time for smart cracks today.”
Me: “Terrorist-wannabe? You are kidding. What gives you the idea I am a terrorist? I loved Anita Bryant, Tom Landry, and Coca-Cola; you can’t get more-American than that!”
Homeland agent: “It was that terrorist look—that goatee, near-bald head, yep. You belong to a terrorist cult somewhere here in Tupelo.”
Me: “I chose to wear a goatee, which is guaranteed in my Bill of Rights and also my bald head is not bald, but shaved by choice. I do not see you harassing Vin Diesel for his shaved head.”
Homeland agent: “Son, you better be telling us about your cult or you will be here two more hours.”
Me: “Hmmm, my cult? Oh, back in high school I was a member of the F.F.A., You mean that one?”
Homeland agent: “Bud, we knew all about that subversive organization: F.F.A.—“Fanatical Foreigners of Asia,” yeah, that one.”
Me: “Future Farmers of America. Look it up.”
Two hours pass away with the same questions being asked over and over with my same blinding-truth answers being given. The Homeland Security people do this while other Homeland employees run what they call a “background check,” on the suspect-of-choice.
“Sir,” a generically-dressed (had to be a) Homeland agent says.
Homeland agent: “What is it, Mosby?”
Generic agent: “Sir, we ran all of the background checks we had on this man, and all we found out was he was pretty-much a loser at dating girls, lived an obscure teenage life, and more of an obscure, tame life as a married man of now 39 years. And he filled-out a survey on this very mall, here in Tupelo, years ago where he answered a question: “What is your favorite thing about our mall?” His answer, sir, was the benches, sir.”
Homeland agent: “Get outta here, but no more animal shadow shows on the trash bins.”
Did you see that? I was hauled-in for questioning for doing animal shadow puppet shows on the trash bin. But it was different, and a whole lot more fun than just sitting there dying one microbe at a time.
Men, or women, if you are tired of just sitting on mall benches, may I suggest a few things you can do that are legal as Dinah Shore, and a lot more fun, while you are sitting and waiting on your companion to return with tales of huge bargains they found at a “Dress Shoes,” store. But your poor unobservant companion never realized that the real store name was: “Dresses and Shoes,” before vandals stole the “es” and the “and” off the store sign.
- SIT STATIONARY – opening and closing your mouth. Then lift up your left arm, then your right. Then lift up your left leg, then your right. Go back to opening and closing your mouth—all while staring straight ahead. I guarantee you two things will happen: One, someone out of pure cat-like curiosity will ask, “That some kind of Yogee exercise? Or Two, people fear that you are a mentally-challenged person (and we all know how some Americans still feel about those people) and leave without saying goodbye or anything. Then when they are out of sight. Laugh. No law against anything you were doing.
- CUE-UP YOUR – favorite tune on your iPhone, and lip sync it perfectly. Then when the song ends, you keep on singing as if it were still playing. Laughs will come your way for sure by mostly-young guns who think themselves to be hip and talented. If one of these elite youth should ask you what you think you are doing, look at them with a stern frown and reply, “You have no clue as to whom I am do you?” “Well? Do you?” in your best Charlie Sheen tone of voice. Do not smile. Do not laugh. Suddenly you will be all by yourself.
- HOLD A BOOK – and every few seconds let-out a mild laugh. Then laugh again. Settle and start reading again. Make comments about a character in the book. “Ha, ha, that Stilson, what a nerd!” and continue reading. Now when you know people sitting around you are watching and listening, laugh again and harder. Hold your sides. Wipe the tears from your eyes. Then settle, compose yourself, toss the book into the trash bin and walk away. Hide at a nearby Orange Julius (if this mall has one) and watch to see the suckers who run to grab the book you tossed. Filming them on your iPhone might be fun, but be aware of any Homeland Security agents who might be lurking as male mannequins.
- START A CONVERSATION – with a mature lady sitting on the bench with you. Ask her where she is from and that she reminds you of a girl you went to college with. Naturally, the lady will be flattered and reluctantly tell you the truth of her hometown. Then widen your eyes and proclaim, “Logger Town?! I knew a guy from there. He was my lab partner at Abner State.” Of course this is a fake college name. Now a long conversation about the economy and how it has hurt “Logger Town,” and its residents and other yawnable topics will ensue. Ask her if she is a logger? Then tell the lady you are an old-fashioned guy who loves making his own bread, clothes, churned butter and other pioneer settler things. You do not own a radio or television neither subscribe to any newspaper. When this shock has worn-off, get out a couple of rubber balls and tell her that your true-calling in life is juggling. Then do a few juggling-routines, and there isn’t many with just two balls. Before you know it, two hours have flew by and you are no longer bored out of your skull. And as she walks away, somehow you are self-resentful for not getting her number for she wasn’t a bad-looking lady for her age.
- DO A FINGER-POPPING – routine as if you knew what you were doing. It’s all in the looks, folks. Tell those interested that this new fad is taking “Taking America by storm.” “Free-form Finger Popping,” and old Appalachian tradition that you uncovered while shooting a documentary there two years ago. Sure this is a pure lie, and if you are uncomfortable at giving the devil some glory, just leave out the lie. Tell those who are interested that “Free-form Finger Popping,” is easy, and you will be a free lesson if they want one. If you want to make this an even-more spectacle, add whistling popular tunes such as, “Tom Dooley,” to the finger-popping routines. Suddenly, stop popping your fingers to the disappointment of the new finger-poppers in your stable. One might ask you why you stopped. Explain that it is not in your show business contract to do a lot of free finger-popping in public. Then as if like the sky opened, a “fast money,” man with schemes to his credit will ask, “How much do you get for your finger-popping shows?” You act as if you are debating whether or not to answer. Then say, “22,000.00 a show that is at least an hour and a half long. His mouth will momentarily fly-open. Word will soon be spreading as you get up and walk off. But watch from some vantage point at this “quick-buck” artist trying to sell finger-popping lessons for as little as twenty-two dollars each. Some might say of you that you started people making money “like popping your fingers.”
- THE FRAGILE BOX ROUTINE – is always a hit with men who sit on benches on malls. Just get an empty, medium-sized box from any store good enough to give you one. Take a black marker and write, “Fragile,” all over the box. Then sit down with the box on your lap. When someone walks by you, just lean forward and cover it with your body. Do this enough and someone is bound to ask you what’s in the box and you nervously-say, “I am not at liberty to say, ma’am.” Do this for as long as there are mall customers showing interest. “Is it expensive jewelry?” “No, ma’am.” “An expensive pet for a girlfriend?” “No, sir.” Foreign-made mink hats, silver-laced shoes from Arabia, silk pajamas from India will soon follow as educated guesses. And you, simply look ahead, hands securing the box and saying, “No,” to all of the questions. If you are brave enough, when you see a Mall Security Cop approaching, act scared and try to hide the box behind you or another person. If will only be a few seconds before you hear . . .
“What’s in the box, son?”
It’s your old friend, the Homeland Security agent.
“Uhhh, ha, ha, I know you,” you laugh pointing at the Homeland Security agent.
“Yeah, so what? Gimme the box and come with me,” he demands.
“Sir, are you undercover working as a Mall Cop?” you ask.
“No, smart alec! I work here. Homeland Security doesn’t pay enough and I have two divorces and alimony to pay,” the irritated agent snaps.
“Sir, before I give you this box marked ‘fragile,’ you say. “If this box is empty, may I buy you some lunch?”
“Sure, terrorist-wannabe punk! I love to see you guys look foolish,” the Homeland Security agent laughs.
Then you walk back to the people who you were sitting with and make this wager: “Who all would be willing to pay me two-bucks to see the contents of this box? You already know that it was enough to interest the mall cop over there.”
Ten eager, middle-aged people fork-over twenty-bucks to your waiting hand.
The tension is evident. You tell the people to sit down and be quiet. Then with one swift move, you take off the lid and to their chagrin, there is absolutely-nothing in the box.
They demand their money back. You stop that by saying, “I never said there was anything in the box to begin with. It was all of you who guessed what might be in here and remember what I said, no?”
You continue. “You just paid me two-dollars to see “what” was in the box, and I showed you nothing was in the box, so our legally-binding agreement was valid. Thanks, ladies and gentleman.”
The ten duped-people slink away but do not throw trash at you for “slicking” them out of their cash.
Even the Homeland Security agent cannot find anything illegal with your mall bench routine.
And now as promised, you take the Homeland Security agent to the fanciful Food Court and buy his lunch.
Nothing like keeping your word, huh?
The perfect item: A book about shopping malls to look at while you are sitting on a bench inside a shopping mall
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