Half Empty, Since 1998

The "Moo-Moo Theory," an appropriate name for this phenomenon, describes the masses of consumers rushing to do holiday and post-holiday shopping. Three cases in point.

The Moo-Moo Theory

Dana J. Robinson. December 22nd, 1998

Case 1

It was December 10-15 days before Christmas. FIFTEEN FREAKING DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS! That’s a lot of days if you ask me. At that point, I didn’t even know whose name I’d drawn for the gift exchange (despite having drawn this name way back in October.) On December 10, I was carefree and going to the mall to buy myself a swank pair of mary janes I’d had my eye on for awhile.

I was carefree, that is, until I got to the mall.

I parked near the entrance to the mall closest to the store I needed to go to. (You see, I’m not your typical chick shopper. I like to make a buzz-line for the store hosting the item I think I need to own, purchase said item, and quickly and efficiently jet back to my car.) As I entered the mall, I saw quite an interesting phenomenon.

People were walking in what appeared to be herds. Their eyes wide, their heads looking straight ahead, their bodies never deviating from the path in front of them. I listened to the sounds around me and noticed that their pathetic consumer noises sounded like low murmurs of, “Moooo. Moooo. Moooo.”

In order to avoid becoming part of the soon-to-be-slaughtered masses, I bought the damned shoes and got the hell out of there. But I knew this wasn’t the last time I’d find myself engulfed by this type of fear.

Case 2

I’m not such a big fan of beanie babies. I suppose maybe that’s a given, considering my distaste for malls and mass-consumerism. When you get right down to it, I’m not a fan of anything that is considered a “collectible.” Ceramic Pooh bears, plush bean-stuffed animals, and pewter anything makes me cringe.

You can imagine how I feel about stores specializing in pawning off such goods to the general public.

How can I respect a person in my age bracket who feels the need to shop at one of these places? Hell, I can’t even respect a person 30 years older than me, living on social security checks, having no family or friends to spend time with, seeking no other hobby than collecting figurines with such urges. So when my friend Heather decided to take me into one of these trinket shops, I raised the proverbial gun to my head and lost all hope.

Unfortunately, I survived the imaginary suicide attempt and found myself smack dab in the middle of a bunch of glass and pewter and ceramic gifts and collectibles. Considering the time of year and the bulk factor of my clothing, I felt trapped. To turn around would mean breaking something. To raise my hand would be to suggest interest in an item. I didn’t want to move and at the same time I wanted to run screaming to escape this vicious nightmare.

I was stuck. There was no way out of this.

So my friend started asking the clerk questions about this series of this particular type of collectible. This was one of the few times where the old adage, “It’s Greek to me” was appropriate. Why did Heather know this language of evil? Who was this stranger I was standing next to? Why had she betrayed me? I felt so violated…so alone.

She opted to take a look at a couple of figurines for her mother. I was forced into holding several of them for her while she decided. Words cannot explain the look of disgust that must’ve been occupying my face.

As the middle-aged woman continued to drone on and on about this line of “finely crafted ceramic ‘art'” I drifted off to one of my happy places. I had a choice…find my happy place or break out my uzi and tear the place up. For lack of wanting to face jail time, I opted for the happy place.

I was suddenly jarred from my little moment by an all-too-familiar sound. Was that a herd of cattle that I was hearing coming over the horizon? Of course it wasn’t. My friend was entranced by these miniature statues of Pooh and was making some sort of strange gutteral noise as a result.

Her appreciation sounded something like, “Moooo. Moooo. Moooo.”

I was surely in hell.

Case 3

A couple of days ago, my mom phoned me up on a Saturday morning at 9am. If you’re a college student like me, you understand why this was her first mistake in this little story. I groggily reached for the phone, dropped it, picked it back up, fumbled with it a little, and in my best, unintentional Tricky impersonation said, “Hello?”

Mom: Hi, Dana. I’m at the mall in Sioux Falls. What are some more things you want for Christmas?

Me: Mom?
Mom: Dana, come on. What do you want for Christmas?
Me: Mom?
Mom: Christ, Dana. Sit up in bed and tell me some things you want for Christmas.
Me: More sleep. I gotta go.
Mom: What size bra do you wear?
Me: Is this a prank call? Are you going to start breathing heavy now?
Mom: No. I’m gonna buy you a bra for Christmas. What size do you wear?

Ok, this conversation was wrong on so many levels. It was 9am on a Saturday. My mom was calling me from a mall. My mom was calling me from a mall in a town that is over 2 hours from her house at 9am on a Saturday morning. My mom was buying me a bra.

Eventually, I gave her the desired information about the bra size. Apparently the bra is “a really nice one.” I’m imagining it to be a heavy-duty, underwire-of-steel, matronly type of thing that no suitor could break through despite heated efforts. I guess we’ll see when I open it in front of my entire family.

When I was 5, my mom bought me underwear that I had to open in front of my entire family. I remember it well. It was Wonder Woman UnderRoos. The top was a tank top in red and yellow and the bottoms were dark blue with white stars. At the insistence of my grandma, I had to go try them on to see if they fit.

I grudgingly went into the bathroom to embark on my UnderRoos Adventure in Embarrassment. When I came back out to the living room, where my entire extended family was sitting around the tree opening gifts, I was asked to turn around and show off my new undergarments.

Being a chunk of a kid, I always had to go to my mom for the finger-in-the-waistband test for proper fitting. So in a daze of humiliation, I walked over to my mom and she tested the waistband. Thank god it fit well. Thank god I didn’t need a bigger size.

I was glassy eyed and red in the face. I wanted to exit the room casually so as not to invoke teasing or cat calls or whatever else my lovely family could conjure up about my new Wonder Woman Get-Up.

That’s when I heard it. What on earth was that noise?

I turned around, despite wanting to leave the room, to see my uncle making this strange noise. He enjoyed teasing me for being a little fatty. He himself weighed approximately 300 pounds, but I don’t suppose that made any difference to him. Despite being a pot, he enjoyed calling the kettle black. So, as you probably figured out, the strange noise was something along the lines of, “Moooo. Moooo. Moooo.”

I hate Christmas.