Lecture 8 Division and Classification Model One: Mall People Just what goes into “having fun”? For many people, “fun” involves getting out of the house, seeing other people, having something interesting to look at, and enjoying a choice of activities, all at a reasonable price. Going out to dinner or to the movies may satisfy some of those desires, but often not all. But an attractive alternative does exist in the form of the free-admission shopping mall. Teenagers, couples on dates, and the nuclear family can all be observed having a good time at the mall.
Teenagers are drawn to the mall to pass time with pals and to see and be seen by other teens. The guys saunter by in sneakers, T-shirts, and blue jeans, complete with a package of cigarettes sticking out of a pocket. The girls stumble along in high-heeled shoes and daring tank tops, with a hairbrush tucked snugly in the rear pocket of their tight-fitting designer jeans. Traveling in a gang that resembles a wolf pack, the teenagers make the shopping mall their hunting ground. Mall managers have obviously made a decision to attract all this teenage activity.
The kids’ raised voices, loud laughter, and occasional shouted obscenities can be heard from as far as half a mall away. They come to “pick up chicks,” to “meet guys,” and just to “hang out. ” Couples find fun of another sort at shopping malls. The young lovers are easy to spot because they walk hand in hand, stopping to sneak a quick kiss after every few steps. They first pause at a jewelry store window so that they can gaze at diamond engagement rings and gold wedding bands. Then, they wander into furniture departments in the large mall stores. Finally, they drift away, their arms wrapped around each other’s waist.
Mom, Dad, little Jenny, and Fred, Jr. , visit the mall on Friday and Saturday evenings for inexpensive recreation. Hearing the music of the antique carousel housed there, Jenny begs to ride her favorite pony with its shining golden mane. Shouting “I’m starving! ” Fred, Jr. , drags the family toward the food court, where he detects the seductive odor of pizza. Mom walks through a fabric store, running her hand over the soft velvets and slippery silks. Meanwhile, Dad has wandered into an electronics store and is admiring the sound system he’d love to buy someday.
The mall provides something special for every member of the family. Sure, some people visit the mall in a brief, businesslike way, just to pick up a specific purchase or two. But many more are shopping for inexpensive recreation. The teenagers, the dating couples, and the nuclear families all find cheap entertainment at the mall. Model Two: Genuine Draft The other night, my six-year-old son turned to me and asked for a light beer. My husband and I sat there for a moment, stunned, and then explained to him that beer was only for grown-ups. I suddenly realized how many beer ads appear on television, and how often they appear.
To my little boy, it must seem that every American drinks beer after work, or after playing softball, or while watching a football game. Brewers have pounded audiences with all kinds of campaigns to sell beer. There seems to be an ad to appeal to the self-image of every beer drinker. One type of ad attracts people who think of themselves as grown-up kids. Budweiser’s animated frogs, squatting on lily pads and croaking “Bud,” “Weis,” “Er,” are a perfect example of this type. The frogs are an example of the wonders of computer animation, which is being increasingly mixed in with real-life action in advertisements.
The campaign was an immediate hit with the underage set as well as with adult beer-drinkers. Within weeks, the frogs were as recognizable to children as Tony the Tiger or Big Bird. They became so popular that the new Bud ads were a feverishly anticipated part of the Super Bowl – as much a part of the entertainment as the game itself or the halftime show. These humorous ads suggest that beer is part of a lighthearted approach to life. A second kind of ad is aimed not at wanna-be kids but at macho men, guys who think of themselves as “men’s men,” doing “guy things” together.
One campaign features men who see themselves as victims of their nagging wives. Ads in this series show men howling with laughter about how they’ve fooled their wives into thinking they’re home doing chores (by leaving dummy-stuffed pants lying under leaky sinks or broken furnaces) while they’re really out drinking. Beer is a man’s drink, the ads seem to say, and women are a nuisance to be gotten around. European and European-sounding beers such as Lowenbrau and Heineken like to show handsome, wealthy-looking adults enjoying their money and leisure time.
A typical scene shows such people enjoying an expensive hobby in a luxurious location. Beer, these ads tell us, is an essential part of the “good life. ” This type of ad appeals to people who want to see themselves as successful and upper-class. To a little boy, it may well seem that beer is necessary to every adult’s life. After all, we need it to make us laugh, to bond with our friends, and to celebrate our financial success. At least, that’s what advertisers tell him – and us. Model Three: Wait Division by Tom Bodett I read somewhere that we spend a full third of our lives waiting.
I’ve also read that we spend a third of our lives sleeping, a third working, and a third at our leisure. Now either somebody’s lying, or we’re spending all our leisure time waiting to go to work or sleep. That can’t be true or league softball and Winnebagos never would have caught on. So where are we doing all of this waiting, and what does it mean to an impatient society like ours? Could this unseen waiting be the source of all our problems? A shrinking economy? The staggering deficit? Declining mental health and moral apathy? Probably not, but let’s take a look at some of the more classic “waits” anyway.
The very purest form of waiting is what we’ll call the Watched-Pot Wait. This type of wait is without a doubt the most annoying of all. Take filling up the kitchen sink. There is absolutely nothing you can do while this is going on but keep both eyes glued to the sink until it’s full. If you try to cram in some extracurricular activity, you’re asking for it. So you stand there, your hands on the faucets, and wait. A temporary suspension of duties. During these waits it’s common for your eyes to lapse out of focus. The brain disengages from the body and wanders around the imagination in search of distraction.
It finds none and springs back into action only when the water runs over the edge of the counter and onto your socks. The phrase “a watched pot never boils” comes of this experience. Pots don’t care whether they are watched or not; the problem is that nobody has ever seen a pot actually come to a boil. While people are waiting, their brains turn off. Other forms of the Watched-Pot Wait would include waiting for your dryer to quit at the laundromat, waiting for your toast to pop out of the toaster, or waiting for a decent idea to come to mind at a typewriter.
What they all have in common is that they render the waiter helpless and mindless. A cousin to the Watched-Pot Wait is the Forced Wait. Not for the weak of will, this one requires a bit of discipline. The classic Forced Wait is starting your car in the winter and letting it slowly idle up to temperature before engaging the clutch. This is every bit as uninteresting as watching a pot, but with one big difference. You have a choice. There is nothing keeping you from racing to work behind a stone-cold engine save the thought of the early demise of several thousand dollars’ worth of equipment you haven’t paid for yet.
Thoughts like that will help you get through a Forced Wait. Properly preparing packaged soup mixes also requires a Forced Wait Directions are very specific on these mixes. “Bring three cups of water to boil, and mix, simmer three minutes, remove from heat, let stand five minutes. ” I have my doubts that anyone has actually done this. I’m fairly spineless when it comes to instant soups and usually just boil the bejeezus out of them until the noodles sink. Some things just aren’t worth a Forced Wait. All in all Forced Waiting requires a lot of a thing called patience, which is a virtue.
Once we get into virtue I’m out of my element and can’t expound on the virtues of virtue, or even lie about them. So let’s move on to some of the more far-reaching varieties of waiting. The Payday Wait is certainly a leader in the long-term anticipation field. The problem with waits that last more than a few minutes is that you have to actually do other things in the meantime. Like go to work. By far the most aggravating feature of the Payday Wait is that even though you must keep functioning in the interludes, there is less and less you are able to do as the big day draws near.
For some of us the last few days are best spent alone in a dark room for fear we’ll accidentally do something that costs money. With the Payday Wait comes a certain amount of hope that we’ll make it, and faith that everything will be all right once we do. With the introduction of faith and hope, I’ve ushered in the most potent wait class of all, the Lucky-Break Wait, or the Wait for One’s Ship to Come In. This type of wait is unusual in that it is for the most part voluntary. Unlike the Forced Wait, which is also voluntary, waiting for your lucky break does not necessarily mean that it will happen.
Turning one’s life into a waiting game of these proportions requires gobs of the aforementioned faith and hope, and is strictly for the optimists among us. For these people life is the thing that happens to them while they’re waiting for something to happen to them. On the surface it seems as ridiculous as following the directions on soup mixes, but the Lucky-Break Wait performs an outstanding service to those who take it upon themselves to do it. As long as one doesn’t come to rely on it, wishing for a few good things to happen never hurt anybody.
In the end it is obvious that we certainly do spend a good deal of our time waiting. The person who said we do it a third of the time may have been going easy on us. It makes a guy wonder how anything at all gets done around here. But things do get done, people grow old, and time boils on whether you watch it or not. The next time you’re standing at the sink waiting for it to fill while cooking soup mix that you’ll have to eat until payday or until a large bag of cash falls out of the sky, don’t despair. You’re probably just as busy as the next guy. ———————–  save: except  interludes: times in between