|I wish I had gotten a better picture.
He spun one heel on the blinding white floor and started heading in my direction. His left leg went into a deep bend as his right extended forward, like R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural. He was wearing a brown disco hat, double-breasted tan pleather jacket, sunglasses stolen from Erik Estrada’s face and jeans that had been converted into bellbottoms with triangles of corduroy fabric hand-sewn into the seams.
He thrust his jaw forward to the rhythm of the lite funk Muzak piping into the room, and changed up his pimp walk every few steps. At one point, he was doing an exaggerated West Side Story-meets-The Hustle finger point/snap, other times bobbing his head with a small boom box hoisted to his ear. The computer-generated music had absolutely no business inspiring anyone to move that way. Clearly, he wasn’t just anyone.
He zig-zagged through several of the walkways of the department store, fully immersed in its soundtrack and his own universe. A small fleet of people chased him with cell phones, trying to catch a video clip or photographs. Others dove back into the sea of clearance racks with a nervous laugh, raised eyebrow or hushed “ooo-kay!” In a matter of minutes, he made it to the mouth of the mall and walked out of sight with a full upper-body swagger, one arm swinging behind him as he looked deeply right, then deeply left — never straight ahead.
There are plenty of places I go in Columbus where this might have been funny yet not entirely odd, like the Gallery Hop, any number of arts events and festivals, or anywhere on the Ohio State campus. They have all seen some share of guerrilla theater (there can never be enough, in my opinion). But this guy chose to strut through the heart of a Macy’s department store in one of the city’s oldest surviving enclosed malls (Eastland). It’s a dinosaur of a place where the majority of the shoppers are either 16 and willing to buy clothes that have a logo stamped across the rear end, or 66 and looking for suitable pants with plain hindquarters for senior rear ends.
Shucking, jiving, mall pimp-walking dude, I salute you. Your cartoon presence was just what I needed to combat the absurdity of sale shopping and trying on clothes in florescent lighting.