I live in Encinitas, on the edge of the shopping centers that surround the mega-intersection of Encinitas Boulevard and El Camino Real.
Folklore would have it that such centers are deadening to the soul, redolent of modern greed and plasticity. That's bushwa, of course, like much that is written about suburban life.
For a devout consumer, it is a daily celebration to live credit card-by-jowl with Village Square I, Village Square II, Wiegand Plaza, Village Encinitas Plaza, Little Oaks Plaza, Camino Encinitas Plaza, Camino Village Plaza, De La Plaza Encinitas, et al.
Color me PIMBY: Please, in My Back Yard.
Atop a hill, the most visible landmark of our community, sits a Target store, its large, glowing red sign beckoning all, a Parthenon of discount retailing.
Our shopping centers offer cures for all that ails those with Excess Disposable Income. Where else would zombie teen-agers find employment?
We feel protective of our shopping centers. They are a part of the cycle of life-death-rebirth of our community.
They give us succor, eyeglasses while you wait, designer pet food, one-hour photo development, Southern barbecue, dental work and day care.
A pasta market closes but Jenny Craig takes its place (same customers). An H. Salt Esq. fast-food fish place closes and is reborn as Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Generations ago, fathers took sons into the forest to hunt bear. Now we go shopping.
My son Wes, who is 3, knows that Target opens late on Sundays. He could say "Ralphs" before he could say "Daddy." He worships at the altar of Play Co Toys.
We go to B. Dalton. I buy "The Closing of the American Mind." He gets "Sneak Attack: A Tasty Pop-Up Book." Same theme, really.
We go to Video Depot (one of six video stores within a quarter of a mile). As always, I ask if there's anything new with lots of sex and violence. Wes zeroes in on "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Close Escrow," or something like that.
Last month, our Video Depot was named store-of-the-month for North County. We're all so proud.
Wes and I go to Great News, which sells knickknacks and novelties and cards and similar stuff, a great place for last-minute husbands who forget anniversaries. It's closing at the end of the month. Angst everywhere.
I swear I hear Wes explain to a friend, "They lost their lease."
Kids learn so early in the suburbs.