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Symptoms of the cold

January 23, 2011

I remember when “Saturday Night Live” did a skit set in the “Scotch Boutique” at the mall, a store that sold nothing but sticky tape. We thought it was funny. No commercial enterprise could be that absurdly overspecialized and survive. Obviously.

Today, in a mall near where I live (I don’t go into malls much, as may become evident) there is a store devoted to selling baseball caps with various sports and corporate logos on them. Baseball caps, also known as “gimme caps,” as in “gimme one’a dem dere caps, so’s I can put it on my head sideways.” Hundreds of them, lining the walls of this store to the exclusion of all else.

Across the way, there is another shop whose storefront windows contain a lovely mannequin in a sari and some gold-framed pictures. This store will help you manage and shape your eyebrows. As far as I could tell, they cater to the needs of no other body part; if you have a moustache that needs waxing, or excessively hirsute nasal passages, you’ll have to go somewhere else. This store just does eyebrows.

I cannot say whether these places will survive. But someone, somewhere, obviously thinks that these places make some kind of economic sense—that our modestly-sized metropolis of some half-million people has enough unibrowed and/or hatless citizens in it to keep these places afloat.

I cannot say they are wrong, but… what does it say about us if they are right?

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