Signs In The Windows

Last Friday I could feel a story idea calling me from far, far away. I cupped my hands behind my ears and did what anyone would have done: “What?” I yelled into the wilderness of my soul. “You have to speak louder, for crying out loud. Give an old guy a break!”

I waited for a response for a while. When none was forthcoming I waited a little longer. Finally I gave up on the idea of waiting. I’m a man of action, right? Well, not exactly, as proven by the impressive and permanent dents in the cushions of my living room sofa. Still, I rose anyway, put on my coat, stuck my iPhone into one of the coat’s pockets and explained quickly to my wife Sandy what my amorphous game plan was. Then I headed for the door, on my way to the three-level mall minutes away from my suburban Philadelphia house.

“You’re not going to do any shopping?” Sandy said to me as I exited. “Anyone else would go shopping.”

Shopping? Hmmm, not a bad idea. I could use a pair of slipper socks to replace the ones joyfully embroidered with Daffy Duck images that I’ve been wearing for the last 60 years. But whatever it was that was trying to reach me from the wilderness of my soul, shopping wasn’t part of it.

I pulled out of the driveway at 10:15 AM and pulled into one of the mall’s gargantuan parking areas at 10:20. Few cars were around. I entered the wonderland through a door that deposited me in Bloomingdale’s, a classy department store whose goods and displays I always marvel at during my infrequent visits. I felt at home, pretty confident that something somewhere in the mall ultimately would result in yet another blog essay being catapulted into cyberspace.

A poster in Bloomingdale’s cosmetics section caught my eye. “Everyone’s Invited!” it partly read. At once a bell rang in my head. Ouch, that smarted! I shook off the twangs of pain and went with the flow. If I wander around the mall, maybe I’ll spot all kinds of signage that share a sentiment similar to that poster’s, I thought. “C’mon in!” and “Don’t be a stranger!” would be good ones to come across, for example. But, nah . . . after I made my way out of Bloomingdale’s and into the main arteries of the mall’s lower level, I walked past store after store and came up with zippo. Nix that story idea.

All was not lost, however. Far from it. For what I realized is that beautiful signs, primo examples of artful composition, grace the windows of many of the shops. There was my story, I concluded. I would navigate all the avenues of each mall level, photographing the window signs that struck me as worthy of immortalization. I breathed a sigh of relief. The wilderness of my soul, at least for the moment, became a less scary place.

I went at it for an hour, 16 signs making my grade. The majority of them are on display in this essay. At the moment, examining the photos from the comfort of my home, it’s hard to say which of the signs I like best. Who can choose? Why choose? Isn’t it better just to appreciate each sign’s worthy aspects? Okay, you’re right. Choosing isn’t all that difficult. Let me think for a few seconds. I’ll be right back.

You know, I like the one picturing a pink Adidas cap, which fills a big section of glass at the Lids hat store. I’m one with its simplicity and admirable balance.

And I can’t deny the power of the seductive image of Selena Gomez balancing a black and pink handbag on her right leg. I had to restrain myself from marching into the Coach store and buying one of those bags, so helplessly jelly-like am I in the presence of gorgeous girls.

And let’s not overlook the black and white flag that stares out at potential customers from the mall’s Gap store. Maybe it’s a political statement of some kind, I don’t know. But it’s clean and taut and hard to take your eyes off of, from an aesthetic point of view.

There was more to my mall escapade than art appreciation, as it turns out. As I made my way around the mall’s highways and byways it dawned on me that I was getting some needed exercise. And that it felt really good to be stretching my legs. I tried to remember the last time I’d gone for a long walk. I think it was in October, on Cape Cod, upon whose open and natural areas I’ve racked up the miles in a major way.

But when I’m home? The landscape in the burbs, an homage to concrete and asphalt, doesn’t thrill me. And I sometimes forget that areas worth walking in, such as the olden streets of Philadelphia, aren’t much more than a hop, skip and a jump away.

But walk now and then in the mall? Hey, I never really thought about that before. We’ll see. I’ve read that plenty of folks do it regularly, placing one foot after the other upon the mall’s interior corridors as if those paths were athletic field ovals. I saw some of the hardy souls during my rounds. One of them, a millennial of the female variety who was attired in black workout clothes, passed me twice. I watched her do her thing. Her ears were home to earbuds and her eyes were glued to the screen of her phone as she relentlessly pushed ahead. You go, girl! Maybe I’ll join you some day. In my dreams.

An hour and change had passed by the time I got back in my car. I felt refreshed. My head was clear. My mood was up. And the remainder of the day, I was certain, would unfold attractively. That’s what good art and a two-mile stroll will do for you.

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50 thoughts on “Signs In The Windows

  1. barrydjd January 24, 2018 / 12:31 am

    Couple of years ago I took a photo of a neon sign in a local mall. Security got quite indignant and informed me in brusque language taking pictures was not permitted. Why I asked. We are protecting the privacy of the retail store owner, they replied. Still working on that one. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 24, 2018 / 9:12 am

      That’s pretty weird. I wonder if the mall near my house has a policy about photos.

      Thanks for visiting, Barry. Appreciated.

      Like

  2. lievelee January 24, 2018 / 4:17 am

    Who would have believed that shopping malls are havens for exercise after all, with eye-candy to boot… Much cheaper than the gym, if you can resist the temptation of opening your wallet and splashing out on the not-so-necessary things in life.

    I should try it one day…

    Lieve

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 24, 2018 / 9:15 am

      Yeah, I think there are organized walking clubs that go to the various malls in my general area. Not positive about that, though.

      Have a good day, Lieve. Thanks for stopping by.

      Like

  3. Alyson January 24, 2018 / 4:47 am

    Like you I live in the ‘burbs but I have created 4 circular routes for myself whenever a 20 minute walk is called for, all starting from my front door. I am lucky however in that there is quite a bit of nice scenery around here so there’s “up the hill” (a forest walk essentially), “down the hill” towards Thomas Telford’s Caledonian Canal, “along to the duckpond” where you pass an old Victorian asylum and finally “round the estate” where you can take inspiration from all the lovely gardens. The year I took a camera with me I found all sorts of interesting things to take pictures of which would have normally been missed.

    Only yesterday however I went into town myself, and it did occur to me that I had done probably an hour’s worth of walking by the time I’d ticked everything off on my list. Love your pictures and like you I think I’m fondest of the pink hat – Simple and subtle. I don’t know if you remember, but I was inspired by a giant poster of “David Bowie/a designer watch” not long ago, as it was gracing the entrance to my local shopping centre (not malls here) before Christmas. We need to use our eyes a bit more as we miss half of what is out there but then again maybe that’s the point – It’s all supposed to be subliminal!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 24, 2018 / 9:19 am

      Hi Alyson. You live in a much more scenic area than I do. My suburbs aren’t much to look at. But beautiful Philadelphia isn’t far away, fortunately.

      Like

  4. milliethom January 24, 2018 / 4:53 am

    A fun read and, although I’m not a city person, I like to hike around shopping centres every now and then. It makes a change from country lanes! I enjoyed your interpretation of the colourful shop window displays and the way you described how they helped to lift your mood and clear your head. I hope the new storyline is now playing out well…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 24, 2018 / 9:41 am

      Thanks a lot for stopping by, Millie.
      I wouldn’t mind a nice walk on country lanes this morning. I wish there were some in my vicinity.

      See you —

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The Artist's Child January 24, 2018 / 6:30 am

    Fascinating. These advertising signs are very diverse from the arty photos to the monster sale image and iconic Gap symbol. They are all large and very eye catching. I went shopping yesterday but was too busy trying to find the right items to notice any signs but maybe there just weren’t any good ones. After seeing your great selection next time I will pay more attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. joyce hamilton January 24, 2018 / 7:42 am

    Good blog. Nice posters.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. greenpete58 January 24, 2018 / 7:50 am

    I don’t know, Neil, I think I’d stick with truck art. Malls are risky places for people who think. Be careful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 24, 2018 / 9:33 am

      Hi Darhlene.
      Yeah, we never know where story ideas will come from.

      Thanks for dropping by. I’ll be seeing you.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Fictionophile January 24, 2018 / 9:11 am

    As always Neil, thanks for the smiles. And… cool way to add interest to your exercise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 24, 2018 / 4:04 pm

      It’s true —- I had fun at the mall. It’s kind of a fascinating place, as long as you don’t go there too often. And I don’t.

      Thanks for stopping by, Tanja. Enjoy the rest of the day.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. MyStoriesWithMusic January 25, 2018 / 5:47 am

    Great post! 😀 Very original topic and it does seem like there could be a story there. Maybe I’ll steal it from you and call it “The Mall”. 😉 I do like the sound of that. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. selizabryangmailcom January 25, 2018 / 2:49 pm

    Our mall in Burbank looks nothing like your setup. Although it’s been in reconstruction for over a year now. Maybe the stores will start putting up artsy window displays like your place. What kinda story do you think’ll come out of this? It’s hard to find inspiration. It would be neato if the mall, the walk, the images inspired a story out of you….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 25, 2018 / 3:50 pm

      Afternoon, Seliza.
      I’m surprised that your mall isn’t chic. I’d have guessed that a mall in Burbank would be very chic.

      Thanks a lot for stopping by. Take care.

      Like

  11. alhenry January 25, 2018 / 10:37 pm

    Malls are a universe unto themselves. The air seems artificial to me–not like the air you get outside. And weirder still, is that once I enter a mall I can’t remember a single thing I own at home, which makes me very nervous about even contemplating purchases. Perhaps I bought those super-stretch leggings last month??? So I pretty much keep my mall visits to one per year, about four weeks before Christmas, and then restrict purchases to gifts for others, an endeavor in which I’m not expected or required to know if they already have “one.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 25, 2018 / 11:00 pm

      Wow, your mall condition is unique!
      I know what you mean, though, about the artificial environment in malls. I don’t go to malls very often either.

      Thanks for adding your observations, Amy. Appreciated.

      Like

  12. dcw0731 January 25, 2018 / 11:52 pm

    Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
    Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
    Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

    Liked by 1 person

      • dcw0731 January 26, 2018 / 10:55 pm

        Thought it would ring a bell in your head after all those signs that you were checking out.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 26, 2018 / 8:15 pm

      If I had to guess, I’d say that you don’t spend a lot of time in stores/malls.

      CB, it’s not definite, but I might go to see Charles Lloyd tomorrow. Bill Frisell is in his current band.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. andrewcferguson January 27, 2018 / 4:30 am

    Good work, Neil! My office is near our town’s central mall, which, some years ago, won an architectural award for the ugliest building in Scotland – to be fair, I think more because of the exterior service areas than the inside, which is, well, a mall! I use it for my lunchtime escape from the work madness, so maybe I’ll see if I can find its inner beauty…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 27, 2018 / 7:15 am

      Hi. It would be funny if any of the signs that I saw are in your mall too.

      Enjoy the weekend. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. K E Garland January 27, 2018 / 6:10 pm

    Ha! My mother/father-in-law have become mallwalkers in their retirement. I suppose it happens in colder climates. They’re in Detroit. Enjoyed your pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 27, 2018 / 6:59 pm

      Hi Kathy.
      Mall-walking seems to have become the thing to do. It’s a good way to get some exercise.
      Enjoy the weekend —

      Neil

      Liked by 1 person

  15. pjlazos January 29, 2018 / 8:39 am

    An immense amount of creative talent goes into advertising, as much as it drives us crazy that it’s always so in our faces, and I for one, really appreciate a good ad. Thanks for sharing and glad you got some exercise!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger January 29, 2018 / 10:14 am

      Morning, PJ.
      There’s a lot of talented and creative people out there. That’s a great thing.

      See ya —

      Neil

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 1, 2018 / 7:34 pm

      I think I see them too!

      Thanks for adding your thoughts, AOC. I’m always glad to hear from you.

      Like

  16. America On Coffee February 1, 2018 / 9:59 pm

    Indeed a unique post coming from you. Great images too. Another show of your fantastic imagination.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. cmwriter February 2, 2018 / 1:18 pm

    Hi Neil – Love the Sephora sign – “Your skin is thirsty.” I live in the desert. Truer words were never spoken. Enjoyed the post! Am big on walking and art! C.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. viewfromoverthehill February 19, 2018 / 7:22 pm

    Hi Neil: You find the most wonderful things to write about! I tried walking in a local mall with a friend on a cold winter day. The hard surfaces hurt our leg muscles and we never tried it again. I wonder if we would have become used to it if we had persisted. Na, I won’t bother. Always a pleasure to read your blog. Cheers, Muriel

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger February 19, 2018 / 8:48 pm

      Hey Muriel, thanks for stopping by. I haven’t been back to the mall since I wrote this story, so you’re not alone.
      Take care. I’ll be seeing you —

      Neil

      Like

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