A few decades ago (isn’t it sexy how casually persons of my vintage toss that phrase around?), indoor malls were all the rage. In my Universal Object of Desire phase, before my marriage, ‘twas to malls I headed every weekend in which to try to meet statuesque and other blondes, brunettes, and redheads. Now you can’t give indoor malls away, at least in southern California, where the weather is pleasant 363 days per year. The new trend is to outdoor retail sectors like the very nearby, very Disneyland-ish Grove, where there is fresh air and natural light and gorgeous women dressed to impress each other, and of course an Apple store, in which there is neither fresh air nor natural light, but lots of bright-eyed young persons in zany coiffures, tattoos, and many long-unused piercings, and the prettiest computers in the world. Cleverly, whoever dreamed up the place directed that swing music — perhaps the music least objectionable to the widest range of people — play at all times. Sometimes I find myself snapping my fingers as I walk through the place, possibly to witness a free performance by a former American Idol finalist whose band includes a drummer I wish I were as good as.
The Grove’s (physically) biggest retailer is Nordstrom, through which one wishing to enter The Grove from the southeast passes unless he wishes to schlep all the way over to the official entrance a couple of blocks to the north. My understanding is that Nordstrom has the most liberal return policy in the history of retail, and that one can, for instance, take in an old tire and ask for his or her money back with confidence of receiving it, even though Nordstrom doesn’t actually sell tires. I’ve never tried it, but that doesn’t keep me from loving the place.
My impression is that the male staff is approximately 100 percent guy, which is to say, in this case, impeccably attired, scrupulously moisturized-looking, slender, and fragrant. They always smile welcomingly when I come in, and nobody ever comes over to hassle me when I indulge in my favorite Nordstrom recreation — laughing incredulously at their price tags. A T-shirt of which you could very easily find a reasonable facsimile across the street, at Ross Dress for Loss or even Kmart (whose men’s department offers attire either personally designed or at least endorsed by Adam fucking Levine, whom I understand to be some sort of entertainer) for $7.95 will set you back $129.95 at Nordstrom. For what you’d pay for a jacket (though why anyone would buy a jacket in Los Angeles eludes me), you could fly to and enjoy a week in Reykjavik, where, at certain times of year, jackets are strongly advised.
Proceeding Grove-ward, one passes through the women’s shoe section, where fashionable, extremely uncomfortable-looking footwear of the sort a woman might wear to, well, shop in The Grove is available at prices that snicker disdainfully at those of the jackets.
A couple of weeks ago, as I took the Nordstrom shortcut toward 3rd Street, heading home, I saw a wonderful Trophy Wife type examining shoes there. She had a remarkable body. She probably spent more on her hair each week than I earn in a month. Her eyebrows should have been on the covers of magazines. When she looked up from the pair of probably-$1200 ankle boots she was considering trying on, we enjoyed a moment’s eye contact. In that moment, she quite correctly surmised that I wasn’t the sort who would buy her three pairs of the boots in different colors, secure in the knowledge that they would probably languish unworn in the back of her walk-in shoe closet. She flared her nostrils at me disdainfully.