Some risks are worth taking…
I walk through the mall, glaring at its constituents. Consumers. What a bunch of atomatons, with their disposable income and leisure time. There are starving people in China, you know. Or there used to be. I wonder when itreally pushes to kick our asses economically if the Chinese government, with its cornered markets and pollution apathy and wanton ownership of US Treasury Bonds, will give a crap about the starving people in America. Screw that. I’m for continuing our world economic domination. Stop reading this and get back to work.
Return to mall maudlinium. A herd of high school kids rushes into Abercrombie and Bitch to look like everyone else as fast as they can before the holidays. I sneak myself past Sephora, hefty faceted zircon in the crown of the Overpriced Cosmetics Empire. Love it, love it, love it!!! My knees buckle. I put my left hand against my head to block the tentacle edge of the vortex that threatens to wipe color on my cheeks and lids and suck the ATM card right out of my pocket.
Should I pick my nose? It’s the holiday season. No one will notice…
Hottie, ten o’clock! I pull my finger down just in time. Real pretty guy… Prettier than me.Damn, he’s gay. What do you expect at the mall? Straight men don’t shop. Straight menstay home and pick their noses. (Unlike semi-straight women, who do it at busy intersections and at the mall.)
Food Court follies: Chinese food…too economically threatening. Italian food…too starchy.Sonic…too damn good.Japanese food…su-s-s-s-su-s-s-s-su-s-USHI??!!!
OMG, WTF? I prowl around the colder side of the teriyaki stand. It’s unassuming, the little morgue-temperature side bar adjacent to the mall exit corridor. I pass a short guy in a black ball cap who hands me a toothpick with chicken on it. I Hoover it off the stick and chew two time.. Good chicken, but I can barely taste it because I can’t stop staring at the lady behind the cold, cold counter pulling rice out of a pot. She’s threatening to roll it around some mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce, and tuna tartar. I drop the toothpick with chicken still in my teeth. Damn, I could have used that.
Spicy tuna roll, $4.99. Raw fish in a mall.Raw fish in a mall. Raw fish in a MALL?!?!?
DO I DARE?!!!
Sushi is my favorite thing in the world, next to expensive make-up. A tuna roll for less than 5 bucks, though? She looks relatively harmless with the big, long knife and the I-work-at-the-mall suicide smile. There’s no blood on it yet. A good sign.
Holiday shoppers graze me with bag corners, herding me toward the restroom so I will quit impeding important traffic. I am oblivious to their agendas. I hold my own like a sorority chick with a beer bong. I crack my neck with a yank to the left. It’s been an hour since I last tried it and it sounds like a tree falling in the woods. I feel like I just swallowed stars.
Creeping up to the counter, neck freshly cracked and shoppers freshly f-you-ed, I pull out a fiver and some tax.
“Spicy tuna roll, please.”
Ms. Sushi smiles and saws the fish meat into a fine mulch, mashing it with the proper condimentation. Next, nori…rice…am I going to die from this? Raw fish in the mall, with the Chinese economy breathing down our necks…
DO I DARE?
I have health insurance. I own a car. I own a house. I have self-esteem. Why take the risk?
Because it’s there.Because it’s the holidays.Because of Ms. Sushi’s suicide smile.
My heart skips a beat. I take a bite.
It goes down nicely. My tummy likes it. My eyes roll and roll as they search for a part of my brain that is willing to compute this set of variables. I have truly gotten away with something. A tuna roll for under ten bucks. My demeanor brightens. I walk past hickory farms and refuse thecheesy sausage toothpick. Nothing is going to sit on top of my tuna roll.
Didn’t the Japanese try to beat the American economy at its own game, once upon a time? Maybe it has. There’s sushi at the mall, and I got there in a Toyota.