Thursday, June 18, 2009

Travel 26/3/09 – Shopping: Dallas, Texas

The main reason for our wee trip to Texas was to help celebrate Cath's parents 50th wedding anniversary. They've been married for longer than I've been and seen a lot of the world as well as some big shifts in the American socio-political landscape.

Unfortunately, preparing a shindig of this importance requires an awful lot of shopping. Fortunately, the US is a country designed around the concept of shopping. We went to Sam's Club which is a kind of wholesale warehouse where members (who pay the nominal joining fee) can buy anything from CDs to cakes. The Sam in question is the founder of Wal-Mart.

We next took in a pet superstore (the size of a large human supermarket in the Netherlands but just selling stuff for pets). Cath bought various cat-related things whilst I checked out the snakes and lizards. As ever the snakes and lizards were adorable. They sat in tanks surrounded by cheerily chirpy crickets. The crickets were of course oblivious to the fact their sole purpose in this new environment was to be a tasty treat for the reptiles. No lunch ever sang so contentedly.

Ourselves, we lunched at Schlotzsky's where they do Jewish-deli-inspired fast food. Every fast food place has to have a gimmick and Schlotzsky's is that is sells things like what a Jewish deli would sell, only made quicker and with more salt and sugar. The Mexican wait-staff only added to the air of authenticity.

Next we trawled around hobby and craft shops in buildings the size of aircraft hangers. The sewing and knitting sections of some of these stores are bigger than whole craft stores in the Netherlands.

In Hobby Lobby, whole shelves were given over to carved figurines all of which carried a label stating "for decorative use only." Really? What other use could there possibly be for them? I can only assume these were added after the store lost a law suit in favour of someone who tried to use one of their decorative objects for a dangerously functional task. The American legal system is a sort of Robin Hood apparatus, taking money from rich stores to give to the poorly intelligenced.

One quarter of the Hobby Lobby seemed to be given over to objets d'art that were inscribed with one of the following words: "Dream", "Hope" and "Faith." Apparently it’s a common thing in churches to have banners and things inscribed with similar things. Had there been one indefinable thing on which were carved large letters spelling "Object," I might have been tempted. But a box that says, "Hope?" What on earth would be in there. Now a little, black telephone book inscribed "Hope," that might sell.

GracklesEverywhere we went, we encountered black crow-like birds. They seem to like to stalk around car parks. Or it may just be that in Texas the place you spend most time outside in is car parks. Anyway they do a lot of wandering around car parks, cawing noisily and threatening to gang up and menace in a Hitchcockian style.

Church of the day (seen on a sign on the side of a pick-up truck): "Shiloh Cowboy Church." I know nothing about this church, but I have a very vivid image of what the congregation and services look like.

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