...Tabula Rasa

Ahhhh, a blank slate, a blank mind and a deadline. What better an economic stimulus package for an ever struggling artistic entrepreneur? I live-parked for seven minutes at a hugh, packed shopping mall in Massachusetts yesterday. My family had to run in and get something small. We, as a family, are not the greatest of consumers and don't oft times need things at malls, especially big malls, and this one was big and it was packed. We didn't need anything at this mall particularly either...it was more a case of wanting than that of needing. My two children each wanted a baseball hat that they were willing to buy with their own money. What I saw in those seven brief minutes while waiting was, ummm, educational. It was like some bizarro world gone akimbo. I saw things in those few minutes that I had hitherto thought only existed in some fantasy land. It made me realize how far either the world as I know it had jumped ahead of me or how far I had fallen behind. That briefest of time spans made me think of the adage my mother would use when my siblings or I left food on our plates as children, "You know, there is some poor child in (pick a poor nation) who would give anything for that food you are about to waste.". The first observation that seemed out of place was a young couple, perhaps in their early twenties, who got out of a luxurious light grey car they really shouldn't have been able to afford to drive at that age (my opinion), dressed in clothes that weren't really fit for Saturday type chores, and each carrying in their hand their own individual cell phones. I'm just guessing but I think they were getting ready to gleefully and with due materialism throw themselves into the apparent shopping fray going on inside inside. Next came the Mommy-Daughter Barbie Duo...two exact look-a-like Barbie Dolls (registered trademark) in their matching goin'-a-shoppin' costumes. Twins...Daughter looked to be about an immature 34 years old though I know she was only about 13, Mommy looked to be about a mature 13 though I know she was only about an immature 34. This pair was an aberration because they were the only ones I observed who were carrying shopping bags into the mall rather than out. I didn't catch what they were driving, but I bet it was pink. The backwards family was next. A severe role reversal. What appeared to be children of, say the 16 to 18 year old variety, with exclusive store logo type bags in hand, seemed to be slowed down by what appeared to be parents in tow, though the children seemed to be dressed so much much nicer which I thought a bit odd. The younger female of the species was driving a grey (why so often grey...symbol of wealth?) Pontiac two door mid-size something or other. The four of them jammed the bags into the already overflowing trunk. Then the older couple (in their early fifties, perhaps) was forced into the back of the vehicle, while the younger, more spry and agile son-daughter looking team took the front. It went on...lots and lots of magazine mimic type good looking people. My "mood apart" bubble burst when a normal looking, non bag wielding, ordinary joe type comes out pushing what could have been his mother, in a wheel chair to a older fading colored van. Both looked fairly content as he helped her in and they drove away. My family joined me and we headed for the highway home.

The Highway Home.

Whoa! Could this be the normal state of affairs out on the four-lanes now? Jams like this are for the weekday rush hour, no? Stop-and-go vehicles every which way, and nobody going anywhere too quick and the four of us innocents smack dab in the middle of it all. I had just heard this past week on NPR that such-and-such a number of hours had been added to the already high yearly driving time most Americans spent behind the wheel. This traffic was moving way too slow to be a white-line nightmare. It must be this precious time spent going to the malls on weekends that added to this already abnormally high drive time number. Why did the four of us have to become victims? While ensnarled in this exponential con-glom, mentally I could extrapolatively see in my mind's eye that the impending terminal choke was going to bring the suffocative end to us all. If there was was such a thing as an automotive environmental emission indicator die that would waft from our collective tail pipes, it would have been in the glowing red danger zone this day. I could feel the ozone depleting, the crops dying, the trees running out of oxygen and turning brown, life as we know it ceasing to exist. It seemed there was no obvious reason for this traffic to happen other than the sheer quantity of people in grey cars all trying to go somewhere. I'm out of touch, Lawdy, take me home!



J. Jules Vitali is a sculptor, columnist, moral philosopher and poet who resides in Freeport, Maine. He is the creator of the art form, StyrogamiTM which can be seen on the web at www.styrogami.com. Styrogami was a feature of the "Osgood Files" on CBS radio in October. His work can be seen at the Northport Landing Gallery in Northport, Maine . He is also an Artist in Cellophane (www.artomat.org).