Saturday, May 12, 2007

Little Shopworth of Horrors

Yesterday we stayed at the West Baden Springs Hotel as part of its soft-opening. It is a site to see, and has not been a hotel since 1932 (a combination of the Great Depression and modern medicine sunk it, but it was a Jesuit Seminary for a while anyhow). The dome in the center is amazing. You could re-enact the Battle of Britain inside with radio-controlled squadrons of Spitfires and Messerschmitts, maybe have a Churchill look-alike hanging out at the bar on the periphery.

On the way down we stopped at a Shopworth because we needed Goldfish crackers and water. It looked like it was a grocery store from the outside. I stepped inside and entered a post-apocalyptic, 28 Days Later, mostly empty grocery store. Also, it smelled very strange inside. Somewhere between urine and cleaning fluids.

Where there'd ordinarily be produce, there was nothing but that green astro-turfy lining. They didn't even have the couple token un-rotten apples ('irradiation!') our protagonists in 28 Days Later were able to score. The whole back half of the place was a white expanse of empty shelves. I tried and failed to find Goldfish, having to make due with 'Wheatables' with a December '06 expiration date. They did have water, though.

The whole time I was there I felt a sense of dread that was even worse than the low-level panic attacks I suffer at Best Buy. I was really happy to get the fuck out of there. I don't know what was going on. I know there's a science to the layout of a grocery store, product placement, the order you encounter different products. It's the sort of thing you laugh about because it seems like such a trivial application of mental energy, until you stumble on a place that looks like it was designed to fool you for a second into thinking everyone you've ever cared about is dead.

The rest of the trip was a lot of fun, though, especially the train trip past Larry Bird's boyhood home.

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