Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Anthropologists at the Mall

Last Friday was Jeff's birthday ("I'm a 35 year old boy...") so we went to the Alderwood Mall to get Tiger at the Apple store. (If nothing in that previous sentence made any sense, keep reading, it'll get less geeky from here on in.)

First of all, it was a 20 minute drive made 70 minutes by Friday afternoon traffic - so we all arrived in Lynnwood a little cranky and nauseous from exhaust fumes and that stop and start thing. And also hungry. So we had to scrap our plans to eat at a "nice" restaurant (Olive Garden, anyone?) and headed for the food court. Not having TV, and not getting to the mall hardly ever really made us feel like visitors from another planet while we ate our sbarro's pizza and ziti. And we kept saying, "people really DO this," and we were curious and enjoyed all the people going by and the plastic food but we were definately not, you know, a part of it, even though of course we WERE a part of it.

So I took a picture with my camera phone (have I MENTIONED my camera phone?) so we could document that we had actually BEEN at a MALL.

After we ate, we found the Apple store and ran into Jeremy who was talking with another guy in a kilt, (two of them! in one store!) and Jeff bought his software while me and Elijah found a bathroom and then played for a while on the kids' computers they have thoughtfully set up, since it turns out that a lot of those thirty five year old boys are having kids and then we went to get ice cream and then something really delightful happened.

It's this kind of ice cream place (what is it called?) where they take a gob of plain ice cream and mix it with yummies like nuts and chocolate chips right there on a slab of icey marble. Jeff said, politely, as always, "No thank you. I don't care for sweets." But it was a birthday, so SOMEONE had to eat ice cream. It took a while though, to do all that scooping and mixing, so Eli waited on Jeff's lap over by the door while I stood in line. And at the end, when ours was all mixed, I put a buck in the tip jar.

Earnest, adorable 18-year-old boy behind counter: "You get a song for a tip! Would you like a song?"
Me: "Uh, no thanks. Oh! Yeah, it's my husband's birthday! Would you sing happy birthday to Jeff?"

And they did! All 46 people who seemed to be working there. Not happy birthday, but a special song, composed, I am sure just for this occasion, although they couldnt really tell whose birthday it was, I think. Jeff was grinning his head off. And Eli was entranced. ( Now our boy keeps walking around saying on HIS birthday, he will have ICE CREAM and people will SING. )

And it was so surprisingly sweet, right there in the middle of the mall and all our aloofness and post-modernity to have people sing out loud like they really meant it. Even if they were just a bunch of kids getting paid minimum wage to schlep ice-cream and sing when someone tips.

Happy Birthday, sweetie. (And that's the real one).

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