When it’s time to adjust my HRS (hair replacement system), Monday night is barber night at the mall. It’s perfect for me because nobody’s there, so the shop offers a 20 percent discount (although I still tip based on the full price). But when I arrived this evening, I was informed that my regular barber (Claude) had gone on vacation and wouldn’t be back until tomorrow. To paraphrase Salvatore Tessio, this “spoiled all my arrangements.”
Now what? I’d already spent a dollar for two hours of parking (at the mall where I get my hair cut, $1 buys you either one or two hours of parking; I always opt for the “two” because, why not?; and if there’s any time left over on my receipt (which there always is), I wedge the receipt behind the space-number sign in case an eagle-eyed cheapskate such as myself wants to use my remaining time because, Fight The Power!).
With the exception of haircuts — and only then because I sometimes have to wait — I maintain a strict 12-minute time limit when visiting any mall. Get in. Get it. Get out. But now, because I’d invested my dollar, I had to stay in the mall for a time period equivalent to that required for a haircut: as much as 30 minutes. I cycled through my options quickly:
- Apple Store: Oh, hell no! If I go in there, I’ll buy something. And it won’t be cheap. What’s more, I couldn’t even think of anything to buy, which meant that I would buy something completely stupid, get it home, freak out, re-package it, go back to the mall and pay for parking again to return it.
- Brooks Brothers: I buy shirts (on sale) at Brooks Brothers on December 26th. That’s it. The rest of the year, they’re dead to me.
- Williams-Sonoma: The fact that I already have enough kitchen gadgets to stock two kitchens never stops me from poking my nose into Williams-Sonoma at this mall, or into Sur La Table at another mall. Lately, I’ve been looking for the perfect ice cream scooper, and while I actually (probably) found it at the grocery store that’s about 70 yards from my apartment, I keep looking. Thing is, the Williams-Sonoma in my local mall is on an upper level, which requires riding the escalator, and I just wasn’t ready to make that kind of commitment.
- About 100 Damn Shoe Stores: I don’t need any damn shoes.
- Several Stores that Sell Expensive, but Extremely Low-Quality “Youth Oriented” Clothing: Nope.
- Several Stores with Cutesy Names that Give NO INDICATION of What They Sell: Also nope.
- Brookstone: How are they still in bid’ness?
- Something Called the “As Seen on TV” Store: I’m not sure if assisted suicide is legal in my state, but in any case I’m not ready to make that move.
I ended up at Barnes & Noble, which I can only assume at this point is still able to pay the rent by laundering money or drugs or maybe Putin owns it (same thing) or somebody owes their soul to the Devil (same thing) although why Ryan Seacrest would invest in bookstores I don’t know. Ryan Seacrest, as we all know, is…The Devil. Google it.
To my surprise, the Barnes & Noble in my mall has gotten all hip and sh*t. Well, not totally hip, but what used to be their CD/DVD section is now chock full of…vinyl LPs! I don’t know if anybody who plays LPs actually knows this, as the section was rolling with tumbleweeds without a man-bun in sight, but B&N appeared to have a decent selection of rock & pop — if nothing else. I haven’t had a turntable since I-don’t-know-when, but my haircut time wasn’t up, so I checked a few titles (and prices).
Single albums were $19.99(!), and double albums were north of $35(!). Yikes! When I was in college — living on $10 per week — I would splurge a whopping $3.99 (most of the time) on an album. The exception being when I absolutely had to have something that the “expensive” store had, in which case I’d spring $5.29 or something. I would spend the remainder of my weekly budget on lodging, whale oil and quill pens.
The magazine section had titles for every interest — as long as your interests are the British Royal Family, teen celebrities, magazines about how to look as beautiful as famous rich people who have time to work out six hours per day and still get airbrushed, or crafts. There’s also a complete area for all of the old people who can’t figure out how to use their iPads. Also, magazines full of tips about how to become a billionaire — such tips written by freelance writers for (I’m guessing) about 50 cents per word.
One title that did catch my eye (NERD ALERT!!!) was something called The Diecast Magazine — the occasional (monthly?) bible for collectors (and restorers) of diecast model cars.
FLASHBACK: I used to earn 10 cents per day for household chores (emptying the trash and such) during early elementary school. At the end of each week, I had to save half of my money, but was allowed to purchase one Matchbox car at Rexall Drugs for 35 cents. By sixth grade, I’d amassed quite a collection of Matchbox and Hot Wheels, and even had a couple of Corgi Toys in there — including the iconic James Bond Aston Martin DB4 (with ejector seat, machine guns and bulletproof rear shield), and the Batmobile from the TV show starring Adam West.
At the end of sixth grade, I was forcibly divested of my collection in an incident that is far too painful to recount here and now. But I have since built up a modest collection of models from various manufacturers for old time’s sake. FYI: I can’t remember the name of the store, but there’s a large drugstore/toystore in the Munich airport that has an unbelievable selection of diecast scale cars. I bought as many as I could stuff into my backpack.
Anyway, I decided to let Barnes & Noble hold onto The Diecast Magazine, which is probably for the best. The past — as they say — is the past.