‘Tis the Season!
By Kami Rice, freelance writer
In keeping with the season, it seemed appropriate today to linger at a mall coffeeshop after picking up my free pair of panties at Victoria’s Secret. Somehow I’ve gotten on their mailing list. They keep sending me coupons for free panties, no strings attached (well, unless you’re talking about string bikini panties, in which case that’s all that’s attached, but that’s not what I’m talking about). This is one mailing list I’m not complaining about being included on.
With my fancy pink (I think the VS people would call it “sexy,” their adjective for everything worth anything) Victoria’s Secret bag in hand, I approached the Cool Springs Galleria map and happily discovered that my coffee destination was just across the way. Convenient. Very convenient. No searching needed, which is a good thing when you’re dealing with a mall map. Have you ever noticed that mall maps are some of the hardest maps in the world to navigate? I mean, I’m pretty good with maps. I like them. I also generally have a pretty good sense of direction and am usually not afraid to take a road I don’t know anything about when it seems to be heading in the direction I want to go. But, last weekend I met friends at Opry Mills, and even though I dutifully consulted the map, I’m pretty sure I only found the food court by luck or possibly because my nose followed the enticing scent of all that delectable mall food court food. Either way, it really wasn’t because the map actually helped me know which way to go.
Speaking of Opry Mills, that place was not a place to go last Saturday if you’re afraid of crowds, packed out parking lots, or standing in line. I’m not a big shopper, so when I agreed to meet my friends there, I didn’t think about how busy the place might be on the first Saturday in December.
With such a recent reminder that most of America shops more than I do, I wasn’t sure what to expect on my mall field trip today. Again, though, I was surprised. The Galleria sported a nice, communal, relaxing vibe today. After picking up a caramel apple cider from The Coffee Beanery, I claimed one of the three tables just outside the glass wall of their store. As I left the Beanery, I picked up a copy of All the Rage to provide a cover for my people-watching.
Before diving into the all-important topics covered by this week’s edition (the cover tease “Have you ever wondered why? Answering Nashville’s little mysteries” did catch my attention and take me flipping through pages to find number 13), I made note of my surroundings, like any good Boy Scout or Girl Scout would, just in case I’m ever lost in the Galleria mall and can’t find any moss growing on trees to help me know which way to go. Above me was The Body Shop. To my left was Dillards. Journey’s Kidz and Gymboree were on either side of the Keith Urban pillar. My old pal Victoria’s Secret was on the other side of the living room (complete with a TV set broadcasting “The Price is Right” when I arrived; isn’t it sad that Bob Barker is retiring? It won’t be the same without him) from my coffee spot. To my right were Littman’s Jewelers and Talbots. Okay, that should be enough landmark noting. On to The Rage.
Fortunately, solving the Nashville mysteries didn’t take long and wasn’t too intense or scary (I am glad to know now who Granny White of Granny White Pike fame is, though) because the nearby line for sitting in Santa’s lap kept distracting me. Judging by the crying I overheard, more than one kid did not greet Santa very warmly. Poor guy. Sometimes you wonder whether Santa is really there for the kids or for their parents. I mean, what’s the percentage of kids who are excited to see Santa versus the ones who are scared almost to death of being forced into the arms of a crazy looking stranger, all just so their parents can get the cute Santa picture to send out with their Christmas cards or to put in Junior’s baby book?
The aforementioned living room area was lit nicely today by the sun filtering through the glass ceiling above it, creating a pleasant homey feel for the space. Several older people, and a few younger ones, lounged there. I couldn’t tell whether they were waiting on companions who were shopping or whether they’d come to the mall living room to watch “The Price is Right” and get out of their own living rooms. On a day like today, that wouldn’t be a bad idea. On a day like today, this living room could actually feel relaxing and far less lonely than an empty room at home. On other days I imagine that’s not so true. On other days this living room likely feels crowded and frantic.
According to the dark-haired woman in the white turtleneck and red jacket, Mondays are the best days for shopping here. Today is Tuesday. Tuesdays are still okay, she says, but by Thursday and Friday, the place starts to be busy again. This woman and I began talking after I took a few practice shots with my new digital camera. (I’ve finally gotten with the times! No more film processing for me.) She watched me belabor my shots while she sipped her own Coffee Beanery drink at another of the three tables outside the shop. After we exchanged smiles, she noted that digital cameras are a lot of fun. To which I explained that I’m still learning how to use mine. I didn’t tell her that I’ve so far taken only about 10 pictures since the post-Thanksgiving sale that offered the deal I’d been waiting for.
The dark-haired woman and I continued to chat and had a much nicer conversation than I was expecting to have when I entered the mall today. Honestly, I didn’t really expect my mall coffeeshop to be a host for impromptu conversation. Me of little faith thought that the unwritten rules that say it’s okay to make new friends in coffeehouses wouldn’t hold true in coffeehouses situated in the middle of a mall during the biggest retail season of the year. Besides, the tables weren’t even inside the coffeehouse, and few customers entered to buy drinks. Not an auspicious beginning for someone on the hunt for a random conversation. I was expecting to be left to ruminate longer on the plight of Santas in America or something. You can thank the nice woman in the red jacket for saving you from such ruminations.
The moral of this story is that you should do your Christmas shopping on Mondays or Tuesdays. You should also take a minute to linger over a cup of coffee and be open to a conversation with a fellow linger-er. You might learn something. If you don’t like coffee, then mosey over to the living room and linger over a few minutes of a soon-to-be-ended American classic game show. And, finally, please, please, don’t force Santa on your kids.
Kami Rice lives in Brentwood and rarely experiences a dull moment. If, however, you need to be rescued from a dull moment, you can check out her teeny, tiny corner of the blogosphere: The Coffeehouse Journals. Contrary to all appearances, Kami does have a life outside coffee.