A friend forced me to go to the mall the other day. . .
“Hey, check it out,” he bellowed, pointing at a display. “It’s the new Hollacrumb Letterman’s jacket.” He looked jovial, like a child at Christmas time.
“I guess it’s cool,” I said casually, “but I think it’s a little overrated. All that money for a jacket that won’t last you more than a year, tops.”
His expression of happiness dropped quicker than a sinking brick. He turned around, looking a bit stony-eyed. “Y’know, just once, I’d like to go somewhere without feeling like my mother decide to tag along.” He must’ve thought this was clever; his expression shifted from being let down to petty and vengeful.
“Look man, this whole store is overrated,” I said. “I’m not trying shoot down everything, and I’m agreeing with you that it is a really nice jacket. You just need to understand that I’ve never really understood any reason to give so much for something so minuscule.”
As the day pressed on, the crowd eventually drew to steady size, then began to die back down. We decided to hit the food court.
“What do you think is the most overrated, of all the things in this world, I mean” he asked curiously, slouching in a chair and picking his teeth.
“You really have to think from the perspective of someone who never had much and wants to work their way up from the bottom; they have to practice efficiency and self-sufficiency,” I said. “Basically, they understand that anything getting too wildly popular is just inflation at best. The things that really matter are small, and most take those for granted.”
“Alright– heard enough. So you were poor and now you’re teaching the rich lessons by not buying their crap. I can understand that, but I hope you’re chargin’ them a pretty penny for those lessons considering they like to blow money on stuff. Or should I say we like to blow money on stuff,” he said, folding his new jacket.
I smiled at this, knowing it was all show and no real care. The mall started to get quiet, deathly quiet. As we stood for a moment, we began picking up on the subtle fact that every other person in the mall stood frozen; still as statues.
“I thought this was weird, but we got an ominous light, ten o’clock dude,” he said, pointing to the distance at something blue and shimmering.
The light wasn’t just in that direction. Concentrations of the light began to appear all around, and as if in a giant fishing net, we were scooped up by it.
We fell on top of a soft gel surface, greeted by a disembodied voice “Please earthling, we need your help.”
My friend stood with his mouth agape for a moment before asking, “Him or me?”
“Don’t be foolish, jellybrains! The only reason you were brought along is because we couldn’t find a proper opening where you two weren’t in close proximity,” it said.
“Awe, it thinks we’re close,” he said nudging me.
“Yeah, yeah,” I said, turning my attention back to the voice. “So, whatcha need Mr. disembodied spaceman voice?”
“Our people have become obsessed with mediocrity; Things having only gained popularity for popularity’s sake. It’s destroying the authenticity of our planet.’
“Join the club, we’ve got jackets,” I said, looking at my friend. “Or rather, he has a jacket.”
After a few hours of explaining a few good solutions for the issue and discussing several thoughts for interplanetary defense, they were satisfied.
“Before leaving so soon, earthling, we’d like to extend our hand and ask if there’s anything we can do for you. We are an advanced civilization after all, but simple problems such as this are so remedial that we must seek out a lesser species to solve them. We can grant you anything you desire,” the voice said.
“Hmm,” I said, looking back at my friend. He had fallen asleep on the gel surface. “I think I have an idea.”
“Arghhh,” my friend exclaimed as we were walking away form the corwd. “A buck fifty for this thing. I can’t believe this. Meeting aliens without getting probed is pretty sweet man, don’t get me wrong, but was it really necessary to drop us off into a mud pit in front of a death metal concert? This thing is ruined,” he moaned, wiping what was left of his jacket.
“Actually,” I said, “I told them to drop us there. The mall just wasn’t my scene.”
“Bu–dude, you know I really liked this thing.”
“I know,” I said, snapping my fingers.
Instantly, he and his jacket looked untouched.
“But—wha—how-,” he choked out. He composed himself almost immediately. “You could’ve taken away all the bloated, popular things on the planet and you wished for this? This just seems like a waste, man.”
“It’s all a matter of perspective.”