Wednesday, November 16, 2011


This evening I went shopping in Bellevue, in hunt of prosaic things.

I needed to buy some toothpaste, and a pair of nail clippers to deal with the talons that have been growing from my fingers since I flew from Hong Kong on Sunday.

These are more difficult to locate than you might think. Downtown Bellevue has a Cheesecake Factory (which sells enormous meals so big that you have no space left to eat cheesecake, ironically enough), a Westin, a Sheraton, a Macy's, a Nordstrom, a fair sized mall, but no obvious pharmacists. Drugstores. Places that sell things for cleaning your teeth with. Whatever.

I looked on Google Maps for "drugstore Bellevue WA", but that wasn't very helpful, because is based in Bellevue and so I could find the address of their office, but not any drugstores. If you want some toothpaste at 6.30pm, you don't want to go on the internet and order online toothpaste, unless you can brush your teeth by jamming the keyboard of your computer in your mouth and yanking it back and forth.

You can't brush your teeth by jamming the keyboard of your computer in your mouth and yanking it back and forth. I've tried.

Being in Bellevue, it seemed the best thing to do, all things considered, was to go to eat dim sum at a Taiwanese restaurant in a shopping centre, round the corner from a bowling alley. I've been hankering after a bowling ball for some time, but I'm not sure what are the important qualities of a bowling ball. I did actually think of going into the pro-shop at the bowling alley and lying through my teeth, telling them that I was buying my girlfriend a bowling ball and that I wanted a recommendation, because I don't know anything about bowling.

What would be the most dishonest part of that? Telling the shop assistant that I had a girlfriend who enjoyed bowling, when I've got a wife who bemusedly tolerates my once-a-year bowling obsession? Or pretending that I don't know anything about bowling balls, when every man must by law be born with the ability to know all about all sports that involve balls? Except netball, of course. Or would it be pretending I was going to buy a ball, when I would only mine the shop assistant for information, then go and buy a bowling ball off the internet, because I like the idea of giving my postman a heavy package to deliver.

But then I remembered that the joke would be on me, as when I got the bowling ball home to Hong Kong, I'd have to walk it up twelve flights of stairs.

Or make my wife carry it up the stairs for me.

Actually, I could just ask my imaginary girlfriend to do it. Much easier.

Anyway, having figured out that I wouldn't buy a bowling ball here, I went over to the shopping mall and tried to buy a pair of nail clippers, couldn't find any, accidentally bought something much more expensive before feeling I could ask where the nail clippers are. That's the problem with the uber-friendly and helpful shop assistants in America; you feel guilty not buying anything from them. Well, it turns out that Sephora will sell you nail clippers for $3 a time, if you ever need some in the future.

Then I went for another wander, and asked another shop assistant where I could buy toothpaste, and she sent me on a half mile yomp through Nordstrom, out into the darkness, and over the road to a Christmas decoration shop, then round another corner, through a carpark and to The World Of Toothpaste (and other hygiene supplies) where I finally got my tube of dental happiness.

Now in Bangkok, all the malls have a branch of Boots, where you can buy toothpaste and suncream, and there's also a Ferrari showroom on the 9th floor. Part of me wants to say that this is a strange thing to have, but part of me thinks it's really helpful to be able to buy a sportscar when you've got clean teeth. I'll write to the proprietors of the mall and suggest they consider this in the future.


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