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Friday, March 25, 2005

Purple Haze

Perhaps my most demoralizing of days. It seems I have finally stumbled upon the method of measurement to determine the quality of a city as a city. Drove the dozen or so blocks - for there is no public transport and on such a perfect day nobody walks - to the shopping experience called Town Center on the quaintly named 106th Street. It no more resembles a town than an indoor mall does, and among many things it is devoid of, is a center, but it was there I set out to look for socks. Purple socks.
The infinitely expansive parking lots had about six thousand cars in them, yet in all the stores I managed to see only about fourteen people. These stores were all mostly beside each other in arcades to encourage you to walk. So I walked. And I walked. There were five hundred stores selling designer furniture, knick knacks from around the globe, kitchenware of peculiar shapes, women's underwear, and travel items. I struggled to find one single store that sold straighforward clothes. This was not good. Then a department store. These things sell everything. This was good. Money would be no object - I would buy the purple socks.

Their socks were the price I pay for pants when I treat myself. I haven't treated myself that way for at least five years. Thankfully, for my economic well-being, they had no purple socks - at least in the men's section - so I didn't treat myself that way then either. Tried to find the women's socks but every time I ventured near the women's underwear section I found the attention from the sales staff too much. I retreated, at least encouraged that perhaps there might be another store in this major shopping area where I might be able to buy socks.

Not all the stores were joined together. Some of these enormous structures rose up alone from the parking lots. Leaving behind the post-modernist muck that is the architecture of the main group of stores, I walked across parking lots to one of these huge structures where no pavements ventured. As I approached I was sure it wasn't my sock store but I'd come so far and it looked so manly in its architecture that I was going in anyway for my last hooray.

Through the double doors and a snidey man with a smile waited for you barring your entry until you gave the appropriate nicety back to his empty greeting. In this gi-normous barn of testosterone I weaved and grimaced and wondered who would come to such a place. Then I found socks. Bulky and expensive but not purple. So I looked for the women's section. I found them and yes they make purple socks for women. That very shade of purple.

Naturally they're too long and will also be too warm but heck they're purple. And they only sold them in double packs so I ended up with three more socks that I really wanted. I suppose in time I could wear them in pairs.

Clutching them like a trophy I kept on looking for the not so bulky and long women's sock section. I never found it so I made for the pay desk. Before being able to buy the socks I had to divulge my zip code. It threw me. I wanted to fight but wasn't sure on what basis so like a wounded lamb I offerred up my mid-town ghetto zip code and wondered if it was his first one today. A helicopter struck me as a good way to leave such an empty hell, but instead I walked across parking lots and grass verges, on pavements with no beginning and no end and finally arrived at my car, whereupon this fantasy lego city suddenly took on a shape and you were never likely to bump into anyone's shoulders.

Five minutes later I'm back in my office eating free barbeque and forgetting my lunch time like a very bad dream. I reckon it should be a lot easier to buy purple socks in a city. And it would be nice if there were other people out buying socks too.

This was all of course so that I can wear one purple sock for a forthcoming anniversary. We remember people in different ways.

Paul Dorrell advises

As for suburbs, God help you if you live in one


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