Laura Wood At the Mall

I was reading with amusement this new post at The Thinking Housewife on scripted customer/clerk interactions, and mentally applying it to my own (relatively limited) interactions in live shopping these days.  Since groceries are most of what I purchase offline, I get to hear  “Did you find everything you were looking for?” alot.  Yes, it is odd, isn’t it?  Am I really invited now to hold up the line while I run back for a box of Chicken in a Bisket?

But then as I read on Laura Wood drops this one:

The clerks in clothing stores have been trained to compliment a customer’s purchases at the register — “Oh, I just love this blouse!” — as if the customer has no confidence in her judgment and must be flattered. It’s canned dialogue. None of it sincere. It goes perfectly with the loud, orgasmic canned music which you can never escape, even in a dressing room or rest room.  [bolding mine]

LZLZOZLZLZ  Well, of course I know there are stores where this is true, but honestly I wouldn’t have thought Laura Wood was patronizing such establishments.

Or is it that ubiquitous?  I suppose most of the relatively upscale mall joints may still be blasting loud, orgasmic canned music (has a ring to it, doesn’t it?).  [Ed.:  I think it’s time for a field trip, don’t you?]   –Okay, Bob, maybe on Monday if I get out of bed early enough.  I mean, it wouldn’t kill me to walk past a Banana Republic and find out first hand?

There was a piece in The New Yorker many years ago about mall muzik, which explained that the boutique soundtrack is meant to confirm the  shopper’s mental picture of where she’ll be when she’s wearing the item she’s considering.  So if you’re browsing, let’s say, Gucci, there’s some nightclub soundtrack blaring because the girl wants to wear this dress out to a bar or a club.  If the shop caters to a somewhat matronly client they might play, say, the same tinkling jazz soundtrack she might expect to hear in an upscale restaurant.  Which is a perverse loop because, as even the Marxist homosexual film critic Robin Wood once memorably complained, it’s awful to have to suffer music, good or bad, while you’re eating.  [His complaint, in fact, was that he had to hear Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, which he loved, piped in as background music at a restaurant, which of course is a complete desecration of the music.  No Mozart lover wants Mozart while they’re eating– no, not even a divertimento, thank you, as any music lover can see there are many passages in the divertimenti far too passionate ever to have been countenanced as mere ‘background music’.]

The most legendary offender, of course, was Abercrombie & Fitch, which blared ceaseless house music on something like the absolute opposite principle of those venues which play Baroque concertos to drive away minority yoofs.  The A&F soundtrack certainly validated the teenage hedonist’s self-imaginings of scenes of immodesty, of course; and it served to scare off older shoppers from wandering through, making A&F a kind of dream teenage paradise (no unattached matronly types–or aging, unsexy clerks– to make you feel old!).

But Abercrombie & Fitch’s overriding consideration was in fact explicitly to make the parents wander off, seeking refuge from the overintense sensory stimulation, and leave their teens unattached, trusting them with the plastic–thus ensuring overspending from their core demographic.

The closest I come to couturier these days is passing through Belk, and if they’re playing music it must be pop radio from the 80s.  Which, in all seriousness, is probably guilty of a fair share of canned orgasmizism itself, though not quite to the Dirty Vegas (when were they fromt, 2001?) levels of today.

Anyway, I hope we can all find some relief from this, but I won’t be holding my breathe.  And I hope too that I’m not altogether guilty of succumbing to the allure of– what was that phrase again?– “loud orgasmic canned music” when I take the opportunity to say how much I’m in love with this tune:

–which, magic of magic, sounds like it could be a lost session from Seven Springs of A Pink!  Uncanned spiritual orgasms for the win!




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