A hat cannot fix all things. The lesson is a hard one, much like a stray dog realizing the larger number of cars, the less likely someone is to stop and help. Going into Valdosta was a lesson in more humans meaning less humanity, and if this is Christmas, we should ban it outright, if not imprison people for acting like morons this time of year.
Traffic was insane. Not just a lot of people, but there were a lot of people all heading towards Mal-Wart, and to the Mall, and if they thought they were going to be the alone with their thoughts they thought ten thousand times wrong. The act of getting into a turn lane was an exercise in suicide. People were racing through traffic lights and horns were being blown the second lights turned green.
I went to a chain pizza place for lunch, but waited until way after one so it wouldn’t be as crowded. It was packed. Worse, everyone there assumed it wouldn’t be, and it was like eating in an elevator, except without the decent tunes. What they were playing was some B-Side greatest Christmas Hits sung by people who couldn’t earn a living making soundtracks for cheap porn movies. They have decent enough pizza, cheap, and they’ll make pizza to go so I ordered a pizza to go, and told them to deliver it to a table near the window. Unfortunately for me, two people with a flock of prosti-tots took up near this position, and I had to move. Okay, for those of you with kids, you might want to explain the wisdom here. Two women, both pushing well over two hundred pounds, went out to a local street corner and gathered up six hookers, all under the age of ten. Well, by the way they were dressed I just assumed they were hookers. Why would anyone female wear a skin tight tube top when it’s fifty degrees outside? Why would anyone let a ten year old wear something like this, along with leotards, and enough make up to embarrass Tammy Faye baker? Worse they all sat at a booth near me, and imagine it; two women who would be seated in a booth comfortably if they lost fifty pounds, sitting there with three pre-teen strippers apiece trapped against the wall.
It wasn’t bad enough they were letting this little girls dress like this, and trust me, I’m not Luddite who things all female humans ought to wear a burka, no, but when you have a ten year old wearing short shorts in December, what in the name of Daisy Duke are you thinking? The worst part was the two alleged adults were yelling at the little girls. They didn’t bother to help them through the buffet, so we wound up with a lot of fighting over pieces of pizza, line cutting, screaming, squealing, and more or less the kind of activity when kids run amok. I changed seats to the other side of the restaurant, and tried not to stare. The scene was damn near surreal.
“I WANT A BIKE!” this from a little boy who snuck up on me and freaked me out. His parents reeled him in pretty quick. They were sitting a few seats away from the prosti-tots and theyw ere freaking out. Yet even they were no match for a kid who wanted to sneak up on the guy with the hat. Twice more I got the message he wants a bike and twice his parents had to fetch him back. He tried to get away by running while ducking down low, and I just knew he would clip someone, but parenting prevailed.
The help there seemed to understand why I ordered a takeout pizza and ate it in the restaurant. Or maybe they were just so used to weirdness they just plain didn’t care. One of the Giant Pimp Women got irate when they ran out of her favorite pizza and she demanded they produce the pizza right now, boy. She banged her fork on the cough shield as if percussion protestation might yield culinary delights. She had eight chances to impress upon young girls how to conduct themselves in public and went oh for eight.
Actually, she was oh for seven. There was an escapee.
I ate and ran, and on my way out, one of the prosti-tots was talking on a pay phone, smoking a cigarette, and looking around as if she were committing murder. I had to stare. How old was she? Ten? Twelve, pushing the limit, and there she was, cigarette in one hand, face painted, eyes lines, jeans skin tight, her shirt two sizes too small, her breasts imagined, yet there she was.
Traffic was even worse leaving. People trying to escape the madness were doing sixty on streets designed for less than half that. People were cutting each other off at gas stations as if there were a shortage. No one, not one person had smiled at me, or told me they liked my hat. The magic is gone. The cheer has been used up. This is predatory commercialism run fucking amok. This is frantic spending and buying without reason, and with consequences no one considers. This is Christmas, in all its glory, and there is very little that frightens me more than this particular brand of stupidity.