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Joseph G Langen

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Starlight in the Mall
By Joseph G Langen
Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Rated "G" by the Author.

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Sedentary adventures while sitting in an outlet mall waiting for my girlfriend.

Starlight in the Mall


Waiting while my girlfriend Carol shops, I sit on a metal mesh bench watching people come and go through the mall entrance. I hear footsteps behind me and a figure walks into view. Is she a woman or a girl? She might be in her twenties, but giggles like a teenager. Her casual clothes don’t add any clues nor does her gait. It’s hard to tell from behind her. She casually ambles toward the exit. Where’s she going and what does she have in mind?

As she walks, she releases her camera from its case. Walking up to people and photographing them seems intrusive, even if you request permission. I feel awkward, whether I just snap away or ask first. She checks her camera for assurance that it’s ready for business. The door swings open for an Asian couple, the woman walking behind the man, speaking what I take to be Chinese. They glance at her as if she might approach them but she ignores them. They exhale, grateful not to be of photographic interest.

Three teenage girls and a likely mother arrive next. Maybe she prefers to photograph teens. They look at her in anticipation and curiosity. She glances down at her camera but makes no effort to engage them as subjects or models or whatever she’s looking for. Maybe she’s not as bold as I thought. The girls and woman head for the handbag shop.

She checks to see if anyone else is headed her way. No one in sight. Is she sorry she missed her two opportunities? What’s her next move?

She looks above her head at a chandelier I hadn’t noticed as I entered the mall or while I sat monitoring the door. Gold colored metal tubes suspend an array of small white incandescent bulbs in patterns suggesting constellations, none of which I recognize.

She aims her lens at them, focuses and snaps several frames. Satisfied, she returns her camera to its case, slings it over her shoulder and slowly retreats to the bench behind mine, resuming her giggle. She seems self conscious about her photography. I hadn’t sensed anyone behind me but now catch snatches of her conversation with whoever waited there.

“… the lights…”, “…a few pictures…”, “…thought I’d try…”  

I lose track of her conversation as the chandelier captivates me, the only exceptional décor in an otherwise drab, institutional structure. How could I have missed it? What inspired her to notice it? My camera waited in the car, not expecting to discover anything of interest in a clothing outlet mall.

Had she anticipated finding something fascinating? Had she remembered it from a previous visit? Or was she always ready for a photo subject to appear when least expected?

I turned to see what more I could learn about her, but she was gone as was her camera and companion. Wait until I get to the car and tell my camera what we missed.

(First published in The Daily News, Batavia, NY)

       Web Site: Commonsense Wisdom

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Reviewed by Lane Diamond 7/27/2008
Another day waiting on the wife at the mall. Tell the truth, Joe. Wouldn't you rather be home watching reruns of The Brady Bunch?
-- Dave Lane

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