A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Max Studio

Conferences in Boston these days are often located in or around Copley Place. The Hynes Convention Center and several big hotels are in the area; the Westin and the Marriott are located right in Copley Place. So when there's a bit of downtime, badge-and-lanyard-sporting attendees, lugging their canvas bags full of programs and agendas, can wander through the mall and gaze at Bally and Gucci, Armani and Dior.

On my way out of town from Friday's AACPDM meeting, I chose a route that wound through the mall myself. Every civilization has its temples, and a visit to downtown Boston confirms that what we worship in ours is commerce. Shoppers are dwarfed by the skylit arcades and awed by the vistas down the various concourses. The dome at the hub recalls a Renaissance cathedral; the serene pool on whose surface fresh blossoms float could be gracing a Buddhist garden. The two-story-high stone-and-metal sculpture which soars toward the dome looks like nothing so much as an altar.

I loved the kiosk selling matreshki (Russian nesting dolls)--some were priced at thousands of dollars. Also the window of Jimmy Choo, lit more brilliantly than Tiffany's and decorated simply with long strands of aurora borealis crystals, to which I'm partial. But the only store I actually entered was Max Studio.

Max Studio is a brand I'm partial to, and I happened to be wearing one of their pieces. I wasn't very far inside the shop when a tall, good-looking, sharply dressed young guy approached me. Do you need some assistance? he asked me.

No, I said, looking him straight in the eye. I love this brand, but I'm far too poor to buy it off the racks like this. All the pieces I own--and I lifted the hem of my skirt--come from the Goodwill. I just thought I'd look around and see what I can look forward to starting next season.

He was too polite to retort, and too powerless, as a mere clerk, to throw me out. He just backed off a bit, and I made a slow circuit of the store unmolested by any "assistance." I gave him a cheery wave as I exited, and he wished me a good day.

Should I feel guilty about browsing when I have no intention of buying? I think not. I've run a business myself, and know that sometimes your worst customers end up your best customers. I've gone into a store more than once with the basest of motives and come out with arms loaded. I originally looked at my current home out of sheer nosiness, and ended up falling for it and actually buying it. Who knows, if my ship ever comes in, I might actually visit the retail arm of Max Studio again and buy two pieces that match, both at the same time.


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