nateeag.com - The Sound of Shopping

I was first introduced to Simon and Garfunkel in my teens. I quickly fell in love with their harmonies, their deft, delicate guitar work, and their dense, poetical lyrics.

As an introverted intellectual homeschooler, I also happened to have a strong dislike for the act of shopping. For me, buying new physical stuff was (and often still is) frustrating, disturbing, and surreal. I hated the work of finding anything at all, the difficulty of divining whether the object would serve its purpose well, and the frenzy and hubbub of the mall. I also felt I could hear beneath its surface the incessant shrill peal of the ringmaster to "Buy, buy, buy! Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die!"

My mom, on the other hand, enjoyed wandering through stores mixing and matching, looking for the exact thing she wanted, not content to stop until she had found it.

As a consequence, she often spent hours on a single shopping trip, wandering to and fro in search of the desired item, often coming home empty-handed. Far too often for my liking, I was in attendance on these trips.

One fine morning, while I was ostensibly studying geology, the following spilled onto the page, nearly full-formed.

The Sound of Shopping

Hello Daddy my old friend
I've come to talk with you again.
Because a vision softly creeping,
planted seeds while I was sleeping,
and the vision that was planted in my brain
still remains
within the sound of shopping.

Through large textbooks I worked alone,
pages on volcanic stone.
'Neath the halo of my desk lamp
I turned my eyes out to the cold and damp,
When my eyes were stabbed by a sodium vapor light,
it split the night
and touched the sound of shopping.

And in the vapor lights I saw
ten million people, maybe more.
People shopping without reason,
buying things that were out of season.
People buying things they'd never, ever, need.
And so you see
that is the sound of shopping.

"Mom," said I, "you do not know,
shopping like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you,
Take a phone that I might reach you."
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of shopping.

And my mother went and stayed
by the Wal-Mart sign they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning
through the words which it was forming.
And the sign said "We're open twenty-four hours every day
So come and stay"
and whispered in the sound of shopping.