Is there any place that exemplifies the cancerous mentality of our country any better than the mega-mall? Forced to spend an hour dawdling at this most hated of places, there was no recourse but to give myself a goal, a definite objective so as not to be sucked in and brain-fucked by incessant conspicuous consumption. In this case, fortunately, I was in dire need of half dozen 16 gauge horseshoes to replace metal bits in various piercings. And so, fortified with a handful of Double Bubble Bubblegum, and hostile attitude, I plunged into the fray. The assault on my senses was near to overwhelming. Every step took me deeper into a world of sights, sounds, scents, most of which are garish, overly cloying, sickening sweet, brain numbing. I was fortunate that crowds were minimal, reducing my need to kidney punch, or drop a shoulder and body block, and allowing me to widen my stride to hasten to my objective. Sadly, my hunt required popping into several shops, all geared towards vacuous youth with overwhelming need to follow the recent trends, and armed with parental credit cards. Each shop pounded with its own cacophony of dance club music, the repetitive, electric drumbeat beating against my skull like so many limp fists. Knowing I had but one need, I was quickly in and out, avoiding bored, overly helpful clerks wanting to be sure I noticed the bulging racks filled with overpriced, cheaply made, sweat shop produce. Each individual foray increased my feeling of desperation, frustration, aggravation and hostility. I could feel homicidal urges beginning to rise within my chest, and knew I needed to quicken the pace, find my objective, and flee to the fresh open air before my urges combusted into uncontrollable rage, or my head exploded, whichever would come first. Finally, I see the store I know will be my salvation; Hot Topix, the one store that makes me feel even moderately at home. I enter, my ears are soothed by the pulse pounding, adrenaline fueled, intricate drumming of a classic punk band, drum sticks wielded by a master of the Power Beat. I feel tension draining from me as I am surrounded by the misfits and wannabe-misfits of society, and am calmed by the smells of leather and vinyl. Homicidal urges fall away, my hands unclench as I caress skull adorned miniskirts. Of course, I find my objective immediately and am quickly assisted by a charming girl, eyes rimmed by wide, coal black eyeliner, hair streaked with purple and green. My people. Of course, with time to spare, I find myself wandering the store, coveting the black corset-like vest ornamented with skulls and black leather lacing. I find a sundress, white with black Dio De Muetre skeletons, it would be perfect. But, I find myself succumbing to that mindless shopping mentality, wishing I had a crisp, new credit card in my wallet so I could shop willy-nilly, self medicating myself into somnolence, convinced the current economic crises is a mass hallucination of the unwashed masses fueled to hysterical level by inept, gore seeking reporters hoping to whip the public into a frothing frenzy. It is the Tender Trap, lulling me, getting me to drop my defenses as I feel the warmth of acceptance and understanding, the lassitude of senseless consumerism, but it is still a trap, a cunning, diabolical trap. Fortunately, I am not so entranced by the power of commercial goods that I cannot pull myself away from the trance inducing, addictive vapors of senseless spending. I make my meager purchase and flee, feeling as if I dodged a bullet, or at least a tranquilizer dart. The mall is a dangerous place, fraught with perils beyond imagining and inhabited by all-consuming zombies. Beware all who enter. And if possible, don’t go in alone.