The other day I was sitting in the lounge area of the mall waiting for my wife – I’m sure a familiar situation for many guys. Why is it I never see women sitting in the mall, looking at their watches with annoyed expressions on their faces, waiting for their husbands? What is it about shopping that is such a detailed, comprehensive investment in time and attention for women, while for men it’s more like a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am exercise. Get in, buy something, and get out as quickly as possible.
Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining. The price I pay for the time it takes my wife to shop is well compensated by the money she saves by looking for and finding amazing bargains. She can buy $200 worth of merchandise for $50 and have two $10 coupons left over for the next time. I, on the other hand, recently purchased the same sweater for $75 that was on sale for $25 just two racks over that I didn’t bother to look at. Think about that:
“Neglecting to glance,
Took away my chance,
To see a bargain in advance
and save money perchance.”
Okay, I know my poetic skills are just as limited as my purchasing skills, but sometimes a man should be brave enough to place one foot forward and venture into an area that holds all kinds of dangers for him… like the mall for instance.
So, I’m sitting in the mall noticing an inordinate number of interesting people and things when a child of about six years old walking with his mom kicks his left foot high in the air, leaps forward, does the same with his right foot, and then falls back into walking side by side with his mom – and I thought, “how wonderfully free kids are, how did we lose that, and what a shame we did.”
Then I realized something extraordinary I’d never noticed before – children don’t just walk, they execute wonderful body maneuvers while walking that no one pays any attention to whatsoever. That kind of freedom is a wonderful thing that children exhibit so naturally. The next half hour became a delightful experience as I settled into my seat and started paying attention to kids passing by. One little girl began to twirl like a ballerina before continuing to walk as she had before. A little boy got down on his knees, did a somersault, jumped back up and continued walking; shortly behind him a little boy and girl, presumably siblings, began to gyrate their bodies while walking as if they had ants crawling all over them, then stopped, put their arms around each other, and followed their parents as if nothing had happened.
I was having so much fun watching the kids that I hoped my wife would take a lot longer. That’s when I had a thought. People pay little attention to kids making silly movements while walking, but would they ignore it as well if they saw an adult doing the same? At the time, it seemed as if it would be fun to try. In retrospect, it would turn out to be one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had. I looked and found a particularly busy section of the mall. I’m sure the fact that it was directly between a Victoria’s Secret and Harley-Davidson apparel store had something to do with what transpired next.
I started walking slowly, then stopped abruptly, lifted my head, looked straight up towards the ceiling, jumped back, and with my arms straight out in front of me kicked my right foot up in the air with the intention of stopping abruptly and continuing to walk away quietly. Unfortunately, a woman carrying a Victoria’s Secret shopping bag happened to step directly in front of me, and I kicked her shopping bag straight up in the air, causing a pink lace bra and matching panties to fly from the bag before the bra landed around one ear of a huge, burly, bearded guy in a Harley-Davidson leather vest with the words “KILL OR BE KILLED” written across the back, exposing arms that looked like enormous pistons, who was just exiting the Harley store.
His look of shock was followed by one even greater when the matching lace panties landed squarely on his other ear and hung there as if in collaboration with the bra. Any question as to whether my antics would be ignored, as they were for the kids, became moot at that point. I must admit that the sight of this mean-looking, muscle-bound, maniacal-looking macho man with the matching bra and panties hanging symmetrically from his ears looked hysterically funny, and it was only my strong sense of self-preservation that kept me from laughing my ass off. I remember thinking I would be lucky even to have an ass when this was over.
As I braced myself for what was coming next I heard loud laughter from behind me and turned to see the woman whose shopping bag I’d accidentally booted, pointing to Mister Bra and Panties and laughing in the way I wish I’d had the courage to do. Lucky for me that stopped him in his tracks, and he stood there staring daggers at her while the garments swung back and forth from his ears like a couple of sexual pendulums.
“I’m so sorry for laughing,” she finally said. “I was thinking that I hope they look better on me than they do on you,” which seemed to change his mood instantly.
“Yeah, well, I wish I could be the one to tell you if they do” he answered with a devilish smile on his face, revealing four gold front teeth. Then he reached up to take the garments from his ears, but the woman held her hand up and whispered:
“Wait; don’t remove them yet. There’s something about them hanging from your ears that makes me feel kind of giddy.”
After a look of pleasant surprise, he dropped his hands to his sides and wiggled his head back and forth, causing the bra and panties to swing slowly on each side of his head as though they were chasing each other. Then he smiled even wider and said:
“What do you get when you put Victoria’s Secret and Harley-Davidson together?”
When she put up her hands in an “I-don’t-know” gesture, he answered:
“A MOTORCYCLE WITH WINGS!”
Then as they both laughed he pulled the bra from his ear, placed it up to his mouth like a microphone, hooked the panties around her upturned hands, pulled her towards him, and began to sing the Sinatra classic “Come Fly with Me.”
I knew in that moment that I could sneak away without his even noticing if I were quiet enough, so I tiptoed silently to the escalator, descended to the ground floor, and arrived at the bottom, feeling both relieved and unfulfilled. Relieved because I had escaped a beat-down by a gorilla in leather, and unfulfilled because my original idea to see if I could be as free as a child had been thwarted by flying lingerie.
Not to be dismayed by one unexpected calamity I decided to give it another try. So, I picked up my pace, walked a few feet, ran a few feet, then did a cartwheel across the floor, landed on my knees with my arms spread wide like an Olympic athlete celebrating victory, and jumped to my feet – directly in front of a security guard who stood with his hands on his hips, a stern look on his face, and, after shaking his head in a questioning manner, asked in a gruff voice:
“Excuse me; what in God’s name do you think you’re doing? Don’t you know you could have injured someone?”
Have you ever had a moment when you realize what you are about to say in no way expresses what is really going on?
As the words, “Would you believe I was trying to see if I could feel free again?” crossed my mind, I suddenly had a major gestalt moment, and the word FREE took on a more meaningful, incredibly important implication – which was that my longing to feel free as a kid again was merely a substitute for something going on much deeper in my psyche – and, as if being directed by some sort of guiding hand, I answered:
“I’m sorry, sir; I was thinking about what it’s like to live in a country that allows us Freedom of religion… Freedom of speech… Freedom of the press… The freedom to love whom we choose… The freedom to marry whom we choose… And the freedom to be who we choose to be. So, I guess I felt a need to celebrate our freedoms in a demonstrable way because these days I’m afraid there are those who would take them from us. Now, I ask you, sir, don’t you think we should all express how important these freedoms are in whatever way we choose to?”
The guard looked at me pensively for what seemed like forever, then removed his hat, scratched his head, placed his arm around my shoulder, pointed to the other side of the mall, and asked:
“So, how many somersaults do you think it will take for the two of us to reach the other end?”