Francie and Barbie are looking pretty good for age 52. They each are adorned in hand knit designer outfits made by my great, great aunt. They haven’t been out of their closet in years. So with their new found freedom they decide to go shopping.
Once they get to the mall, they are shocked. Not only are the fashions completely different and ugly if you ask them, the prices are ridiculous. These time capsule babes decide to observe people since buying clothes is out of their minds. They notice the metrosexual males and thirty year old boys with flat billed hats and their pants falling down and they wonder what happened to Ken.
They watch a guy walk in front of his wife pushing a stroller. When they get to the store entrance he goes through and the door slams on the stroller. The mother walks around and awkwardly pushes the stroller through from the side with one hand while holding the door open with the other. Francie and Barbie wonder what happened to chivalry.
They see everyone using cell phones and not noticing anyone else. They watch people run into each other and just keep walking after glaring at the other person. Francie and Barbie wonder what happened to common courtesy or hanging out with your friends at the mall.
They walk by a man dressed in a suit with a tie and a little flutter of hope fills them until he tries relentlessly to sell them cell phones with service plans and obviously has no interest in relating to them or knowing them as people. They talked about the corner general store where the owner was always there and knew all the customers. He’d ask about your parents and honestly care about your answer. Many of their school mates worked in the mall and they’d go and visit each of them. On their breaks everyone would hang out in the food court and talk.
Francie and Barbie head to the food court to see if it still the most lively place. On the way in they see a young couple in front of the malt shop. They are very over weight and each slurping a malt and playing on their phone. The two don’t say a word to each other until they get up and one of them says, “Let’s go” before they return all their attention to the electronic thing in their hands. The ladies wonder what happened to young love, sharing a malt and blushing at each other over small talk.
There are no great conversations happening anywhere in the food court. There are a lot of cell phones at the tables. The people behind the counters look completely bored and the ladies decide they probably wouldn’t want to eat anything served by the guy they just saw sneeze into his hand and wipe in on his apron then start dishing up food again. They reminisced about how proud they were to work when they had their first jobs. Francie said she was the fasted soda jerk at the shop.
Feeling completely out of place, Francie and Barbie decide to go home but they hit rush hour traffic and are stuck in a sea of cars. They see drivers waving at each other with middle fingers and people weaving in and out of lanes just to get a little bit a head of the next guy.
Francie and Barbie were so happy to be home in their simple closet with their lovely clothes and each other to reminisce with that they decided to do what a lot of us do, stay in their house until the world gets nice again. Unfortunately who knows how long that will be?
Maybe if each of us made a point of putting down our phones when we are around people and actually socializing we wouldn’t need internet dating, we’d have no fear of our neighbors, we wouldn’t have to wait until something really scary, that threatened all of us, happened to join together as a community.
It wouldn’t hurt to teach our kids manners and chivalry and work ethic and just reinstall the little niceties back into our society and how we interact. We can smile at each other, make eye contact, joke with a cashier, compliment a stranger and say, “excuse me” or “I’m sorry” if we bump into each other.
They don’t call it the “good old days” just because there were heavy narcotics in the soda and cough medicine. There is a certain charm held by a time when all the kids on a block gathered in the morning and played all day, every day outside during the summer. They had real lasting friendships not petty facebook fights that all started over a misinterpreted message.
Many things have improved in the last fifty two years and we should appreciate that too. We could keep all the good and make more good so that Francie and Barbie want to come out and explore again.