Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happiness factory

Riddle of the day:
What do you get when you cross an amusement park, a singles club, and a ginormous mansion?

You get the Mall of Georgia.

You may be asking yourself why I did not include the words store or buy or clothes or shop in my riddle. This is because it appears that the thousands of people wondering around this monstrosity are not at all concerned with such commodities. What?.... You go to the mall to purchase things? Well, you are obviously going to the wrong mall. Yes, at the Mall of Georgia there are hundreds of stores selling everything from massage chairs to nose piercings to overpoweringly scented lotions... but who can be bothered with that stuff when there are also huge, shiny, ultra-clean play areas for the kids!?! There are outdoor mazes made out of bricks surrounded by grass that looks like astroturf! And crazy water fountains that dramatically shoot up from seemingly invisible holes in the ground! There are little "re-charge" rest areas with squishy couches where you can put your feet up and plug in your electronic devices while sipping your Starbucks mocha shake! There is an IMAX theatre where the characters in the movies jump out and try to touch you! There is a sushi bar in the food court! A sushi bar!

I mean this is no ordinary shopping mall. The level of modernity and sterility in this place makes the mess of real life seem to disappear.

And the people there LOVE IT.  I went there a few days ago and I LOVED IT. I've never seen so many people look so happy. Teenagers are holding hands,  giggling and flirting by trying to make each other run into poles. Older couples are holding hands and smiling as they walk slowly through the pristine, air-conditioned environment.  Those that aren't holding hands with someone are doing some serious scouting and they all seem so confident while doing so. I have never been looked at/smiled at by so many 16-20 yr olds in my life. I smiled back! I'm telling you, it's like a darn happiness factory in there.

Which reminds me of my trip to the Coca-Cola museum a few years ago. When you first get to this pretty large museum, dedicated to a single brand of a single beverage, you are first herded into a theater where you meet your tour guide. This young lady smiles ear-to-ear and talks to you as if you were a 3 yr old that only hears high-pitched tones. Her job is to introduce the movie you are about to watch. It's called "The happiness factory!" and it's about the magical little creatures that make Coca-Cola. Oh, I'm sorry.....You thought overworked, underpaid, poorly treated PEOPLE made Coca-Cola? Nope. In fact, this bubbly drink is made by all kinds of cute, enchanting creatures - most of which look like sperm with arms and legs. They take your coins from the vending machine (like you can even get a Coke for less-than-paper-money anymore) and fly around kissing coke bottles and grinding up snowmen heads to make them cold. One particularly happy sperm creature wears a cheerleading uniform and blue eyeshadow and calls Coca-Cola "sparkle dust." By the time you finish going through all the beautiful, elaborate rooms filled with red and white memorabilia and pictures of people all over the world smiling at their coke bottles, you start to agree with her. Coca-Cola is magical. Then, at the end, you finally reach the finish line and get to drink as much soda as you can out of these super-fancy dispensing machines... and then there is no turning back.... the "sparkle dust" takes over and adults and children alike run around screaming with joy until they just can't take it anymore. Then, slowly and sluggishly, they march through the gift shop where they buy their very own red and white magical souvenir.

Anyway, I think this level of modernity and its ability to make us so happy is a bit eerie. Take my  new I-phone, for instance. I have only owned it for about a week and I am already willing to fight someone for it. The Instagram app has been making me particularly happy. You know, the one that takes photos that make shiny, modern things look like they are actually antiques. (Do I have to point out the irony here?)

I took a picture of the Mall Of Georgia when I was there. ------>
Please notice the ornate facade. And the crazy water fountain. And the super-fancy Coca-Cola dispensing machine.... so beautiful! So modern! So clean and pristine! At least with my new handy-dandy I-phone I can make it look like it's from the 70s - I don't want to overdose on happiness you know.

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