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Holiday shopping kills

Sabrina Noble
By Sabrina Noble
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, December 8, 2003
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Who's been to the mall since Thanksgiving? Who's called their parents three times already trying in vain to draw out a few gift ideas? And most importantly, who's backed over a little curly haired child in the JCPenney parking lot?

If you're smart, you can proudly answer "no" to all the above questions. Unfortunately, few of us are wise enough to stay in our homes until early January. 'Tis the season for shopping, regardless of how much we hate work-related gift exchanges, extended family and credit card bills.

In a momentary lapse of reason, I ventured out to the mall this weekend to get my yearly overdose of holiday cheer. What a bad idea.

We were initially given false hope by finding a close parking spot. "Well this isn't so bad," we said, grinning stupidly at each other in a great sea of cars. "This might be fun!"

Oh, what bright-eyed idealists we were! We still imagined we'd leave without migraines. But upon entering the mall, we were overwhelmed by the air, which was thick with perfume from the cosmetic counters and packs of bag-laden old women. The department store was a writhing mass of activity, with babies screaming, punk-rock teens languishing and rolling their eyes, and families rummaging through sweaters looking for a small (and there were no smalls of anything, anywhere).

Clothing and accessories lay in disarray as vacant-looking employees shuffled around, apparently still recovering from the night before.

"Excuse me!" one woman snapped at me in welcome. Her small child looked at me menacingly and I leapt aside.

As we wandered from store to store, cut off by speeding strollers and swerving to avoid suddenly braking couples, it quickly became apparent that we'd find nothing on our lists. The fact that we'd even come in with a plan now seemed laughable. Had we seriously thought we could outwit the mall? Such harebrained schemes have gotten people killed before. For all we knew, there were trampled bodies shoved beneath display tables until their families could be contacted. We stood there, sobered.

However, we had come in with a backup plan in case such a thing should happen. We'd decided we could lie to the pet shop employees and tell them that we were planning on getting an apartment and were looking for a puppy. That way, we might be able to play with all the puppies in the store, giving us time to rest our weary feet and hearts.

But even that plan failed, as the shop was crowded and the puppies smelled funny. We left, dejected, after briefly watching them roll in their soiled newspaper through the glass.

My head felt like it was ready to explode as we shoved through stores, only to find their selection less than satisfying. I began to fantasize about tripping other patrons and wondered what might happen if I were to throw something at their heads.

As my co-adventurer pointed out perceptively: "You don't handle the whole shopping thing well either, do you?"

Whatever made you think that? Sometimes I just need to fall to my knees and weep, receipts and plastic bags blowing around me like some sick corporate parody of autumn.

"Sabrina, please just put the cutlery set down. People are starting to stare."


"Let's get the hell outta here and get fruit smoothies."

An excellent suggestion. It would give us time to get over the sensory shock. We stepped into the sunlight like war prisoners setting foot in their own country.

We carefully navigated the parking lot (i.e. refusing to brake for anyone unaccompanied by small children) and drove to Jamba Juice, which not only provides fresh fruit, but also a wide variety of suspicious-looking "boosters," like Protein and Energy. Unfortunately, nowhere could I find Patience, Restored Faith In Humanity, or The Will To Live. So I settled for what Jamba Juice called a "peenya kowlada." That's a pia colada, for those of you who talk normal.

Upon returning home, I stocked up on food, turned off my phone and commenced rocking back and forth with a glazed expression. In the rare case that you should ever see me in the mall again, I'll be the one wearing the festive reindeer antlers and an ever-tightening string of lights around my neck, laughing quietly to myself in a way that makes mall security uncomfortable.

Unless I'm feeling sane, in which case, I'll be finishing my shopping online.

Sabrina Noble is a senior majoring in English and creative writing. She can be reached at

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