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Hairless Rats And Bulldozing Babies—Not Your Mom`s Mall Any More
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May 18, 2005, 05:00 AM
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I hate shopping malls.

This is a cruel irony in light of my all but lethal shoe addiction. But I knew the expression "life isn`t fair" had to be more than a t-shirt slogan.

So I`m thinking about getting a dog and I went to look at a few furry beasts in a local pet store—yeah, in a shopping mall.

Interesting side note: In 1996 I owned a cactus for three whole months before it bit the dust—umm, literally—so sustaining the life of an actual mammal should prove exciting.

But if I can do it, I will surely get married and have 12 children!

Then I would finally match the profile of most women at the mall now—well, except for the marriage part.

This mall in my hometown in central California was erected about 20 years ago when I was but a wee lass. But I do remember the way it was then—several generational groups, almost entirely non-Hispanic.

Now my mall is overwhelmingly, almost exclusively Hispanic—comprised mainly of three generations: mother, daughter and grandchild. The oldest is generally no more than 35-40 years-old.

Walking the mall back in the day—remember, this is less than twenty years ago—I would pass Mr. Oliveira who owned the local dairy but talked incessantly about developing some of his land for tree crops because "everybody loves nuts."

I might pass Mr. Bowden who failed me in Geometry, twice, and blacklisted me from school dances, twice.

He would probably stop and lecture me on the subtle beauty of quantum mechanics, making plain his glum view of my intellect while his chronic halitosis left me on the edge of consciousness.

There would be at least six teenage girls, fresh from the beauty parlor and coiffed for the County Fair beauty pageant, shopping for dresses and gossiping about the one princess who is not with them that day.

Snippets of other mall conversations included the plummeting beef market and those greedy east-side farmers hogging all the water by frivolously flood-irrigating everything from pasture land to window planters.

Oh, and the wives. They would sit in front of the A&W and whisper (or so they thought) about Mrs. So-and-So or better yet, Mrs. So-And-So`s daughter.

What a scandal! She was caught making-out with Mr. Oliveira`s son in the back of his flat-bed when they were both supposed to be at the rehearsal for the County Fair beauty pageant. She will never amount to anything, that little Jezebel

Just ask the six girls we passed a few minutes ago.

And the old folk—the once ubiquitous retired population. They frequented the mall both to catch up on the news and to escape the blistering 115-degree heat.

I mean, every other couple must have been over 70.

But what I encountered in this same mall last week was a slightly different crowd. In the way that Joseph Stalin has a slightly different reputation than say, Thomas Jefferson.

My first stop, you know since I was there anyway, was at a cutie-girl shop to buy new Hello Kitty lip-gloss. (I know, not only is it designed for 7 year-old girls but it is also imported from a country whose economy I would rather not support—but I can`t help myself.)

I was glancing through the rack when I heard a tromping noise approaching and looked up just in time to see it:

An extremely large Hispanic woman advancing toward me clutching a baby on her hip, his little face turned-out toward me. He was maybe, at the most, two months old. Their heads flop around at that age, but she didn`t seem to care.

Filing in line behind her was at least five more children, several adults, and all of them were yelling, yelling in Spanish.

This woman pushed me out of her way—and I am not joking here, I have a witness—with her baby.

Here`s a visual aid: a football player running for a touchdown is thrusting out the ball-tucked arm to ward off those trying to tackle him.

This is what she did with her baby.

I did not know whether to laugh or cry. So I think I did a little of both and I skipped the Hello Kitty lip gloss in my hasty retreat.

Out in the mall again I headed toward the pet shop, stopping at a toy store to buy a new Yoda doll. Every employee was Hispanic. Not one of them possessed anything resembling manners.

Getting the clerk with the pseudo-Mohawk to take my money was even a bit of a chore as it required him to put down his #$^& cell phone!

Side note: Into which he was, like the aforementioned, yelling.

I stopped at the music store to pick up a copy of Raising Arizona on DVD. Every single person, patron and employee, was Hispanic.

Back in the mall again, I weaved through the flocks of sticky, shoeless and Coke-stained children (all Hispanic, of course) to get to the pet shop.

Then I saw them.

Appropriately situated across from a rather large and hungry-looking python were the vilest creatures I have ever seen: Hairless Rats

I have already mentioned my disdain for hairless cats in a previous column—now I would gladly welcome them as a legitimate species if it meant erasing the hairless rats from the planet.

Demand drives supply. So who is behind the creation of this mutated and mongrel genus?

Sadly, it turns out they were not bred for Python food.

Every Hispanic child in the mall that day stopped to ooh and ahh at the pink-eyed, wrinkled creatures and begged their parents to buy them one—or ten.

It was awful.

Undoubtedly, someone is reading this and concluding that I am "putting-down" Hispanics. But I assure you, that is an exercise in reductionism.

When I say the inhabitants were mostly non-Hispanic in the 1980s, this means the population included Blacks, Asians and Whites. My concern is not the addition of Hispanics into the mix—it`s the fact that they have seemingly replaced every other ethnic group.

There were no longer any farmers, no wives gathered for lunch, no giddy school girls shopping for the County Fair, no math teachers and no 70 year-old couples walking the length of the mall holding hands.

I use the example of my mall because I know the story is the same in every other small town in California—not to mention whole ecosystems such as Los Angeles—and it`s now happening everywhere in America.

Call me old-fashioned. But I prefer the peaceful and communal feel of yesteryear to the yelling, dirty, baby-bulldozing crowd of today.

This is diversity, is it?

Well, no thanks—I don`t want it.

Bryanna Bevens [email her] is a political consultant and former chief of staff for a member of the California State Assembly.