I am at the mall, and I have lost all interest or memory of why I am there. (I always do this at malls. It takes twenty minutes, and then I am out of my body. I am floating around, watching the other shoppers shop, the sellers sell, the mothers tug their children and large bags, the fathers wander off aimlessly like fish in the air . . . ) Some man hands me a card and puts out his hand for money. It's one of those cards that reads I am deaf. Give me money. Or something like that. I give the man a dollar.
I am suddenly distracted by a young girl. She's maybe twelve or thirteen, and she is trying on a skimpy skirt (the kind hat my dad would say- shows more than your legs), boots, and a clingy shirt. Her mother is appalled by the outfit. The girl is pouting and twirling around in front of a mirror. Her breasts hang loosely out of the top of the blouse. She is blond and red-lipped and angry.
You look like a slut, the mother says angrily.
I look normal, the girl says. That's the trouble with you. You have no clue what normal is.
The mother looks at me, suddenly, as if I might help her.
Is that normal? she asks me, pointing at her daughter. Tell her THAT is not normal. Tell her.
The girl glares at me.
I can't think of what to say. So I give the mother the man's card. I am deaf . . .
David Foster Wallace
16 minutes ago