Monday, March 06, 2006


I’m still going to tell you what I found on the Internet yesterday, but I must review now my trip to MallTown Friday, and what happened at the Barnes & Noble—before I forget.

MallTown is my name for the suburb twenty-five miles south of here that contains all the staples of indulgent shopping and fat-filled food. The shopping staples include Staples, Penny’s, Macy’s, Old Navy, Target, Wal-Mart, and such. Among the emporiums of fat are Chi-Chi’s, Red Lobster, Friday’s, Chipotle, Olive Garden, Outback, Cheddars and the like. The only real food in MallTown sits in bun ovens and veggie bins at Subway. Subway is the only fast food in America that has a right to the title, “food.” One may be assured of a square meal at Subway as long as one answers “No, thank you” to the requisite cash register question, “Would you like chips and a drink with that?”

MallTown contains a mall, of course. On weekday mornings only lonely people, walkers, and self-employed writers go there. (Sometimes these are combined into the frankenstein: self-employed, lonely writer/walker.) On weekday mornings and early afternoons, malls are barren of fun, and nearly of life. I encountered a middle-aged walker swigging a Starbucks as he went, and this was the main hive of activity. Old people sat on benches with hands atop their canes. The modern mall may be the geriatric version of the singles bar.


“I know.”

“Wanna go to the hearing aid store?”

“Oh, I just had lunch.”

“What do you say we date?”

“The thirteenth.”

Mall employees at midway kiosks endlessly adjusted their product. As for me, I sought the Radio Shack; I needed high-bias, metal cassette tapes for the re-launch of ZenderTalk. I walked around so many times looking for this store that I encountered the Starbucks man seven times. It turned out that the Radio Shack had moved. I found out later from my sons that it was on Linwood Avenue now, between Panera’s Bread Store and Pay-Less Shoes, in the shadow of Dick’s Sporting Goods and Target.

Barnes & Noble is the best store in MallTown because the doors are well-built, and there’s a vestibule full of books between the cold parking lot and a cozy reading chair. The ambiance, upon entering the second set of real wooden doors, smells like toasted almond coffee beans. This is due to toasted almond coffee beans.

I make an immediate right to the coffee stand for a Starbucks grande, decaf. The sizing at Starbucks is foreign, even to foreigners. “Grande” is somehow “medium.” If you want a small, you say, “tall.” If you want a large, you say “venti.” If you want to cuss, you say “Blaggerdeepoop.” If you want to know why smalls are tall and larges are venti, you ask one of the young clerks. But as many of them have white, spiked hair, they don’t know. And yet they are kind enough to want to leave room in your cup for cream, if that’s your taste.

I was looking at “New Arrivals” at the front table when a woman (a new arrival in the flesh) came into the store wearing black, high-heeled leather boots.

I confess to you that I really like women’s boots, especially the high-heeled, black leather variety. I like it even more when the boots fit snugly around the woman’s leg, and this phenomenon was occurring here at this bookstore, with this new arrival.

This boot thing is venti to me; it’s not a tall issue at all. The higher the heel, the ventier the experience, to me. Some call this a fetish. I call it a matter of really liking women’s boots.

Someone gave me the impression, many years back, that this bent of mine was sinful. I respected this person’s opinion, so I sought to cleanse myself. (If God hated this variety of female footwear, then I would hate it, too. I wanted to be on God’s side in the matter of female footwear.)

I laid on the floor of my living room and cried and prayed. I was that sincere, in the direction of God. I prayed and prayed for the cleansing. When I got off the floor, I dusted myself and felt the need to test the prayer’s effectiveness. I had to wait a few days, but then I saw her at K-Mart: a woman in tight, high-heeled boots, leather and black. In that moment I knew that God had answered my prayer! I still dug the boots. God answered my prayer by not answering it. Whenever God responds in this way to a high-heeled request—or to any kind of request, for that matter—it is His way of saying, “Until I rid you of this thing, just hang onto it and do your best. If it is fun and relatively harmless, relish it.” In my case it was His way of saying, “I want you to keep this fetish, Martin. Enjoy the boots.”

This, in itself, was a cleansing. Here at the Barnes and Noble this day, it never entered into my heart to biblically know the woman; I did not prefer her to my wife; I did not make myself a nuisance to her; I did not even stare at her footwear, though, were it socially acceptable, I surely would have. I merely glanced and sighed, and felt good inside. It made the gray day better. It made me want to go home and see Melody.

Melody’s boots have a spiked, metallic heel, and they are an inch ventier than those of the tall lady at the not-so grande bookstore.

© 2006 by Martin Zender