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By Staff | Feb 6, 2015

My wife and I recently made a quick business trip to the Twin Cities.

She totally hates to drive in any metropolis that’s larger than a dozen structures. This is because we live out in the boonies.

For us, a traffic jam involves politely waving the other driver on at a stop sign. Even though it wasn’t rush hour when we arrived in the Cities, we felt overwhelmed.

Every driver who was on the route that we were taking seemed to have highly questionable driving skills.

We were billeted at a large hotel and given a room located on the top floor. Looking out our window lent us a commanding view of the hotel’s parking lot and the freeway and beyond that, a picket fence of skyscrapers.

This is somewhat different than our house, where the tallest structure that greets the eye are the distant spires of the co-op elevator’s grain silos.

At breakfast I was able to observe the American businessman in his natural habitat. I noted that their preferred plumage seems to be suits and ties and lanyard name badges and briefcases.

I felt lost amidst this assemblage of Masters of the Universe, the impeccably coiffed and cologned men who grease the wheels of our nation’s economy.

But then again, they would probably feel lost if they were to be plunked down amidst our corn fields.

As I munched my French toast, I surreptitiously studied a pair of businessmen who were breakfasting nearby.

They chatted as they noshed, although both of these processes were halted at random moments when they had to turn their attentions to their smart phones.

One of the guys had an open laptop on the table in front of him, distracting him even further. It was strange to witness all that non-communication happening in the midst of all that supposed communication.

After our meetings were over, my wife and I opted to visit our oldest son, who lives and works in the Twin Cities. We chose to meet at an easy-to-find venue called the Mall of America.

Near as I can tell, it was named the Mall of America because it covers a major percentage of America.

Like a gigantic terrarium, the mall contains a self-sustaining ecosystem. At the center of this ecosystem is an amusement park, the main purpose of which seems to be extracting screams from its youthful riders.

Perhaps this is necessary for maintaining the mall’s biosphere.

A person could live an entire life in the Mall of America. I saw a bridal shop and a wedding chapel, several maternity stores and an infinite number of clothing, bedding, food and consumer electronic outlets.

The only thing missing was a funeral home and a cemetery, but there were large portions of the mall that we left unexplored.

My wife and I strolled the endless hallways. Even though the mall is essentially a giant square, we couldn’t shake the feeling that we had become lost.

The Mall of America is so vast, by the time we passed a store we had seen before we had all but forgotten that we’d already been there.

I was beginning to worry that the authorities might someday discover our skeletonized remains in a forgotten hallway labeled free samples when we finally saw something familiar.

“Didn’t we pass that sign for the Sea Life Aquarium a while ago?” asked my wife.

We had. There was still some time before we were to meet our son, so we opted to visit the aquarium.

It was a bit startling to see a slew of tropical sea life in the middle of a mall in the middle of Minnesota in the middle of the winter. But we had by then become so inured to the artificial wonders of the colossal mall that nothing seemed improbable.

We ambled down a long glass tunnel as sharks and rays glided gracefully overhead. I enjoyed it immensely.

My wife, however, was too busy worrying about whether or not the glass tunnel would choose to implode just as we walked through.

I suddenly espied a familiar face.

“Whoa,” I exclaimed, “It’s Crush from ‘Finding Nemo.” I tapped on the glass and said loudly, “Dude. What’s up?”

Crush couldn’t be bothered to reply. Either that or it was another sea turtle.

“I can’t take you anywhere,” said my wife. “Look. Now there are nose prints on the glass.”

Thank goodness our son arrived just then to sherpa us from the wilds of the Mall of America.

We motored back home just fine and are glad to again be driving on roads that aren’t being hogged by eejits.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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