Talk about your Greatest Hits day: morning at the pediatrician’s, then Target, the grocery store, and the Target store. This bleat writes itself.

Wish it would, too. Lots to do this evening; I’m putting the finishing touches on the April-May movie. Way behind schedule. Usually I do 20 minutes per month, but since I was simultaneously editing while learning how to use a new program, things went slowly. It’s not bad, considering - and it’s all in glorious 16:9.

The Apple Store trip was thwarted, at first; the four kid’s computer stations were occupied by largish teens, all of whom were playing the Barbie dress-up game. When I saw they all had the same game on their screens I wondered if they’d networked the machines, and were having some sort of Barbie deathmatch, but no. They were just being bored and ironic. So we left the store and wandered around the mall. “Ice Cream Ride,” Gnat insisted, and I had no idea what she was talking about. My wife said they’d added some kid’s rides at Southdale recently, but I didn’t know where, so we searched the four corners looking for tot-themed diversions. The mall was populated entirely by idle teen girls. It’s amusing, and slightly dismaying, to see teen girls in 2003 look like they did in 1973. Hip-huggers, tight shirts with strings that tied at the back, straight-part hair. It’s a look that makes me think of Boone’s Farm and Black Oak Arkansas. One new fashion twist almost made me laugh out loud: tight pants that ended at mid-shin and flared waaay out. Completing the look, platform sandals. You just wish the fashion paramedics would screech up in a van and administer 20ccs of Anne Taylor, stat.

Slinking around the mall were small sweaty packs of teen guys radiating waves of dorkness and desperation, and it reminded me of the central cruelty of a teen boy’s experience: the girls are always about 19 months ahead of you in every way. They may be 15 or 16, but to your eyes they are indistinguishable from the women in the Victoria’s Secret store posters - they have the hair, the proportions, the attitude, the bazooms. And there you are with your zits and stupid shoes and band T-shirt and slack gut and your inability to say anything, let alone the right thing. In my day it was bad enough, but now these guys have to compete with gigantic wall-sized picture of buff nekkid torsos in the Abercrombie & Fitch stores.

When I was in high school, that sort of brazen hussyness was an arrow to the heart, because you knew it was all being wasted on a football player two grades ahead. Now it looks amusing. The Li’l Slut style is not as sophisticated as its practitioners believe. But they’ll figure it out eventually.

We found the Ice Cream Ride after all - it was in a small arcade in the mall’s Dead Node. There’s a three story court next to the Penney’s, and it’s always had trouble keeping stores. There’s an order to these things, and you can track the demise of a mall node by how the area declines. It goes like this:

National Clothing Chain

Regional Clothing Chain

Individually owned clothing store, with a name like Nancy’s Closet

Weird-ass chain that sells a very specific range of merchandise, like knives or bird cages

Empty for several months, open at Christmas to sell prepackaged cheese logs

Empty again

Nail salon!

This particular node has a history few know. The lowest level was once connected to a subterranean concourse of stores; that area was eliminated in a mall-wide overhaul. One of the stores was a burger joint based on Al, the big-nosed restauranteur of “Happy Days” fame. It died. For years temporary walls sealed off the crypt of Al’s burger joint, but you could see half of Al’s face in neon-tube form peeking from behind the painted wallboard.

For whatever reason, the entire area has that indian-burial-ground vibe. It eats store’s souls. The Ice Cream Ride was located in a prime storefront that used to be a Mexican-style clothing & gift store - one of those store that just makes you sad when you see it, because you know it’s someone’s hope & dream, and it’s going to die fast, and die hard.

Gnat rode all the rides. They cost 50 cents apiece. When I dropped the coins into the box, they made that sound that told you they didn’t have much company.

Back to the Apple Store. The kids were gone, so Gnat ran to a computer, called up her favorite program and started drawing. I asked a sales associate if they had a printer that did CD labels. (Why do I need a CD label printer? Please. If you have to ask, you won’t understand.) He said that the printer would indeed do the job, but why bother? Get a dedicated label printer. Do you have any of those? No. And how much are they? $500, or so.

The perfect was not only the enemy of the good, it was the enemy of the sale.

That’s all; much to do. But I’ll leave you with this:

Recent Gnat.

And making a triumphant return, recent Jasper!

See you Monday.