My wife has a Christmas Eve tradition of taking the kids to the mall for lunch and a movie. I am generally not invited. I abhor crowds and commerce and a trip to the mall usually sends me into a tailspin of unpleasent behavior. I must have been displaying an uncharacteristically sunny disposition this year as I was allowed to tag along.
We went to Crossgates around 11:00am and I remarked to the wife that it was a bit less crowded than usual for an Xmas Eve. However, after having suffered through 2 hours of singing pigs and elephants we walked out of the movie theater into the ugly/smelly throng of humanity that I had expected.
I had heard about a Hawaiian themed concession in the food court that I was vaguely interested in checking out. Both of my children revel in bad mall-Chinese food so we ganged up on the wife and she relented.
Upon arriving and finding a table I issued fourth my general routine about how there used to be trees and a Hot Dog Charlie’s in the food court, and about the one time I threw up Mountain Dew all over a table. I secured plates of noodles and bourbon chicken for the kids and some fries for the wife and made my way over to iGrill (the Hawaiian joint).
Now, I had tut-tutted the whole way to the food court about the general lack of self awareness of my fellow man as I was jostled a time or two. I had bemoaned to the wife the lack of “excuse me-s” taking place between individuals. This is all to say that I was already approaching my tolerance limit for lack of good manners.
Then it happened.
A gentleman in front of me in line yelled to his wife. Loud. Across the entire food court. There was no emergency or other extenuating circumstances. He yelled to get her attention. In public. In front of hundreds of people. With no shame. With no apology to those around him. I audibly gasped.
I want you to understand that had I done something similar in front of my extended family this act would have entered family lore and legend. Years later at Thanksgiving meals aunts and uncles would raise eyebrows and tut about, “that time David yelled in the mall.” Inside the complex box of customs and shame in which I live this sort of breach of public decorum is absolutely unacceptable.
I always lump this part of New York into inland New England in terms of general “customs.” This is changing somewhat as the influence of downstate creeps slowly up the Hudson Valley like a disease. But for folks with roots that go back a while around here it still holds true. Things like wearing bright colors and making facial expressions in public are seen as a bit suspect. In fact, any expression of individuality in a public setting is really sort of frowned upon.
My wife often remarks that in her opinion I am a bit “cold.” She often tells people that the strongest display of emotion of mine that she has observed is when during times of great grief I have stood up to look out a window for a minute. Forgive me my stereotyping, but my wife is your classic Mid-Hudder. She grew up in the same house as her Italian immigrant grandparents and is animated, loud, emotional, and generally full of life. Not at all like the dry husk of a man that I have grown into.
It seems by accident or design I have set my life up wherein I really only occasionally have to encounter people who don’t abide by the same code of behavior that I do. A trip to the mall being one of these occasions. Based on the reaction of those around me to our friend’s bellow, I don’t think I am alone in my experience.
I have been thinking much upon this incident, and more so upon my oddly strong reaction to it. It is my supposition that many people understate how mortified I can be by this sort of thing. Maybe the thinking goes “eh, I just budged in line. People will get over it” or “eh, I’m talking loudly on my phone in public. People will deal with it.” Nope. If I see you doing something like this, unless I have evidence that it was an extreme aberration from your normal routines, I will hate you forever. Visceral hatred.
It is alien to me that there are those were not raised to have the same concept of when they are supposed to feel ashamed of themselves.
I am laughing at myself over this a bit. Where does this come from? Why do I feel this way? It is so weird! I am a moon-man. I am a silly, bitter, petty man who spends his days tut-tutting about the behavior of others. Part of my charm? No. I think not…
Anyhow, the iGrill place is sort of fun.
I had SPAM musubi. It was a bit strange as I sort of expected SPAM nigiri as opposed to a SPAM maki roll.
As I was releasing myself from the restraint of rigid diet I went classic fat kid. I also got a “Loco Moco” burger. This was the strangest burger I have had in a while. It had rice, gravy, and an egg on it.
Sort of an unatrractive picture, but the burger was alright. A fork and knife burger though, and I don’t really approve of this. You should be able to convey the burger to your mouth without a loss of structural burger integrity. This sandwich was a bit of a project to eat. I would give iGrill another whirl.
Well that was all a bit of a screed, wasn’t it?…