The shopping mall is not a place I ever choose to go on my own. But sometimes, without even realizing how I got there, I find myself stranded under the fluorescent lights. She is in a dressing room at a clothing store. I stand just outside, holding a purse, surrounded by women I do not know, engulfed by their club music and illusory beauty. At this moment, I can no longer see her, so I question if she ever existed at all. I carefully avoid being bowled over by an intrusive divorcée, all the while believing that the too-tight red shirt she’s considering may actually act as a catalyst for her imminent trysts. She is chasing down her friend and says that the decision to buy the shirt is an emergency. I question how. Our thresholds for panic are quite different. The spectrum more volatile still on her end. And she sees me as a waste of space.

Little does she know, I’m not a bad person. I contribute. I leave my empty bottles outside the garbage bin so that the tin men have easy access to what they’re looking for. And I wink at them with a smile. I support their entrepreneurial spirit and applaud their disregard for the structure the rest of us find ourselves in. Last year I was in Detroit, waiting for my girlfriend outside of the city’s only hostel, and I dug through a dumpster alongside an elderly black man, fully grasping his plight and briefly enjoying my place alongside him.

I am a decent person. I keep my seat in the upright position on planes, even when the seatbelt sign is turned off, and even when the passenger in front of me has had theirs in full recline since takeoff. If I’m seated anywhere other than the aisle, I make sure to visit the bathroom before the flight, and never during. I willingly trade seats with young women who wish to be closer to their boyfriends. I successfully pretend I do not notice the stench coming from the seat next to me.

I’m a good person. If the woman behind me looks rushed and has fewer than six items in her basket, I will gesture for her to pass me in line. She will decline my offer, with a simple wave of her hand, but we both know that by the time we are finished going through the motions, she will in fact be served first. I’m not in a hurry anyway, and she’s had a hard day.

The sales associate recognizes his bewilderment and asks if he would like any assistance.
Exasperated, he replies, “Jesus, who fucking knows?”
And then he apologizes. Maybe for Jesus or for fucking or for both.
Maybe for the anger he unconsciously radiated, maybe for asking a rhetorical question.
He is not fully accustomed to the company of unfamiliar women, but he figured out at some point that an apology might lead to forgiveness.
If you want someone to like you but you’ve offended them, forgiveness is pretty important.
Or strength.
Or a certain charisma that makes people forget or at least ignore past indiscretions.
That charisma is sickening. It is everywhere.
It is evolution.

December 2 – Britney Spears gets a mallrat rat rat rat
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