14 December 2007

Covenant dance

I did something completely out of character this morning.

I went Christmas shopping. In a mall.

A long time ago, before malls became a way of life, became an imperative, I used to enjoy Christmas shopping. The halls weren't decked until after Thanksgiving, choirs would carol with reckless abandon, and the smelly old Santa would cheerfully give you a candy cane, no photo required. For teenage girls, it was a high energy social event. My friend SK and I would meet on a December Saturday morning, usually at the Record Bar, where we would spend some time pawing through all the new vinyl, looking surreptitiously for boys we knew, so we could giggle, point, shriek, and then go enjoy lunch at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour. We probably bought things, though I have no recollection of what; mostly, we went for the entertainment. I do remember, with a certain fondness, the gruesome taste of the TAB floats we would order with lunch.

Christmas shopping was also about decoding my siblings' lists for my mother. I've never forgotten the morning she dropped me off on her way to work, and the hesitant look on her face as she said, "Your brother wants that lung album for Christmas. Would you see if you can find it for me?"

"Lung album?" I stared. Record album? Picture album? Lungs???

"You know...I'm sure you know which one it is. By the guy who was on The Beverly Hillbillies."

The poor woman knew exactly what she sounded like trying to explain this to me, and it was written all over her face: I was the only one who could save her from complete and total humiliation, the kind purposefully waged by teenage boys upon their mothers. Though I was also a teenager, she was tacitly hopeful that I could be relied upon, for at least 10 minutes, by virtue of my XX chromosomes, to come to her aid.

And, fortunately for us both, the penny finally dropped.

Aqualung by Jethro Tull. I duly traveled to the Wherehouse, and saved her bacon.

The son believes he can wage a similar war of Christmas terror. He's given me a neatly written list of about 40 items that he'd be grateful to receive for Christmas, MSRP filled in, and where I can find them. Really, remarkably organized for a 13-year-old. Among the 35 or so games noted, are two Xbox 360 games that are rated M. Now, I do pay attention to ratings, but I don't necessarily dismiss books or movies or games out of hand because of a rating. However, I read, watch or play first and make a judgment. And at the moment, I'm not really in the mood to do field research on Mass Effect or Bioshock.

So, they're getting Rock Band instead.

I bought it today, the apparently more difficult to find "special edition," and I was the only female in the store, and probably the only one over 30. A tall, thin young man with slightly protrubant brown eyes, and longish brown hair answered my questions with a definable air of nervousness. Sort of like he was talking to his mother and she maybe knew too much. It amused me to think that back in the Record Bar days, he probably would have merited pointing and giggling, while today I was just mildly annoyed that he was taking so long to ring up my purchase.

As I signed the credit card slip, he said with a sudden burst of inspiration, "You know, there's always Halo 3."

"That's what I'm getting for Christmas," I told him.

For a moment, there was complete silence. Then he grinned.

"Cool," he said.

I took my packages and left the store.

Go listen to some good music: "Covenant Dance" from the album Halo: The Soundtrack by Martin O'Donnell & Michael Salvatori.

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