Friday, November 18, 2005

Macy’s in the Mall

I am remembering when the bookstore Macy’s was in the Avalon Mall. My father had a rule that if I wanted a book I could have it. It didn’t matter if we had money when I wanted the book or if we didn’t have money. I got the book. It was a rule. I was spoiled.
Spoiled rotten.

I went through a whole period when I read nothing but the Coffee, Tea or Me series – big fat paperbacks whose pages turned yellow fast. About stewardesses. They were called stewardesses then and they had big hips and big breasts on the cartoon covers and their hats were slightly askew and they were always flirting and terrible things happened like they lost their luggage and it meant some stranger would open their suitcases and see their dirty underwear. They would be aghast. They would blush, aghast. But they flew all over the world and drank martinis poolside and handsome pilots were always looking at them wistfully. I was absorbed. The bookstore fell away, the mall fell away, the parking lot, my father’s yellow Datsun, the whole city.

I think I was eleven during the Coffee, Tea or Me phase. I was also allowed any book I wanted at Macy’s. That was another rule. My father rarely commented on my choices. He would go off and buy himself a shirt in a cellophane package full of cardboard and pins. We shopped together all the time. He would leave me at Macy’s for a while and then I would feel his presence behind me, and then the fluorescent mall and the noise and rattling shopping carts and Christmas carols - all of it too bright and loud - would come back into existence.

Every night I read Harry Potter to Theo. Every night I say, Move over. Every night he says, Can I’ve a glass of water. I read and read and read. At a certain point he rolls over and faces the wall, but he’s still listening. I say, Are you awake? And he says, Yes. I say, Theo? And he says, Yes. I don’t really need to ask. I can feel when he’s fallen asleep. It’s not just the deepening of his breathing. It’s the absence of concentrated listening.


Blogger Michael Winter said...

Your drawings. There was a documentary on last night about an Irish painter doing all the members
of the House. He had each one, did portraits in black and white. They spoke. My god can the Irish talk. And he preferred it when they didnt talk. Anyway, your drawings, as exercises, remind me of this Irish painter, who was a bit like Colin McNee in temperament, and he kept a digital diary of people's faces, as he said he wasnt good at writing things down.

3:32 p.m.  
Anonymous Trudy Morgan-Cole said...

I have so many memories of Macy's in the mall! I was allowed (this seems to have been at about age 9 or 10) to just go in there and hang out and read whenever my parents had to go to the Mall for anything. There was a very stern man who worked there who seemed to disapprove of children reading. I remember once sitting on the edge of a bottom shelf with a Trixie Belden book and seeing the stern shiny shoes of the disapproving man coming towards me. He asked me to leave the store if I wasn't buying anything. I got kicked out of Macy's.

Years later, when big chain bookstores with cushy chairs came along, I know I should have felt resentful for the demise of small independent bookstores like Macy's, but my first thought was, "Finally, someone understands what I like to do in bookstores."

7:06 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, but remember when Macy's was only in Churchill Square? It had it's own smell, like a bookstore should smell, not like a mall or a coffee shop, but a lovely paper & ink & glue smell. the smell of books...

10:19 a.m.  
Anonymous Trudy Morgan-Cole said...

Honestly, when I look back on what I posted here about Macy's, I think it was Macy's in Churchill Square where the Stern Man worked, the place I actually got kicked out of. Yes the lovely smell of books, but the frustration of being forbidden to read them...I think I would still sacrifice the smell of authenticity for the smell of coffee if I'm allowed to sit and read a bit.

2:44 p.m.  

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