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Sunday, August 26, 2012


Tax free weekend finally arrived, and Samantha and I were on a mission.  I decided that whatever accessories I lacked for the forthcoming nuptial event, would remain as lacked objects.  After completing my usual chores in record time, and being ready to leave the house by ten, Samantha and I drove to the mall.  As the mini underwent minor surgery on Friday, and was not released until after 5pm, we kept the loan car for the weekend.  It was a rather impressive Honda Accord, with a boot!  Not only could we buy an abundance of items at the mall, we would have lots of room for our groceries.  Such luxury we perceived!  After injecting some petrol into the parched tank, we made our way to Round Rock, and  parked not too far from the entrance. Without having the pressure of specific item shopping, we stopped at Starbucks for one of their coffee based concoctions that Samantha seems to enjoy. We gave our order and the young assistant, who asked for a name to write on the cup. We meandered over to the end of the counter and waited.   Several very small plastic beakers were on the counter, with different colour liquid, and I enquired as to what they were.  Apparently very high in caffeine, they were the latest in a range of 'energy' drinks, which gave you the boost, without the taste of coffee.  I thought it rather odd that the number one selling coffee lounge would promote an item that denounced the taste, but chose to sample the wares, if only to give me the energy needed for what I hoped would not be a mammoth trip.  Two gulps later and I was left with an empty cup.  Samantha's suggestion of 'throw it over there', was not taken as I had no intention of being arrested for causing an fracas, but we had already drawn attention to ourselves for other reasons.  The beverage chef shouted out, 'Wendy', and placed a rather delicious looking brew on the counter.  Samantha's lips were watering, and she commented that perhaps she had made the wrong choice!  For future reference I asked, 'What is this'. A confused looking young girl, answered me, 'It's Wendy's'. Obviously, not making myself clear, I smiled politely and said, 'Yes, but what is it?' Again, she answered, 'It's Wendy's'. I am afraid that the sarcasm within me does not stay subdued for too long, and I once again pointed to the drink. 'So if I want one of these, I ask for a Wendy's?' The 'duh' was left out of her reply, but her eyes said it very clearly. 'No, it is a ..... ' and went on to pronounce something that included caramel. I thanked her, and told Samantha that if she wanted one of those, she would just have to ask for a Wendy's, although we thought that this would probably be considered a joke, considering said cafe, although diversing into non coffee products, has not yet started selling hamburgers.
We made our way around the complex, and after stepping in and out of a couple of shops, my not so observant daughter commented that we had been at the mall for nearly an hour, and hadn't bought anything. We had not spent a cent!  I reminded her that after the trip to the petrol station, and the coffee house, I was twenty five bucks down, with nothing to show for it!  Her immediate response was to take a last slurp from her cup, throw it into a bin, and then tell me; 'NOW, you have nothing to show for it!!'  I believe strangulation is still a crime in Texas! 

The thunder storms that were forecast for the weekend happened all at once, as we were in the uncovered part of the mall.  As the saying goes, 'everything is bigger in Texas', and that is certainly true of the rain. Within seconds, the open areas were full of puddles, the size of lakes, and were were on the wrong side of the bank!  Although the outside temperature was still very warm, we were soaked to skin and entering an air conditioned store was somewhat of a shock to the system.  My teeth were chattering as I was greeted by the two ladies in my favourite dress shop, who were most excited to see me.  'She's from England', I heard one tell a gentleman who was standing at the back, near the changing room.  It would appear the man was visiting Austin, but had lived in the USA for several years.  Our conversation was the usual, 'where did you....', and 'how long have you.....', with the general chit-chat that ensues among ex-pats.  Suddenly, an angry face appeared from beyond the racks, and he made reference to being in the 'dog house again'.  This remark was not accepted particularly well by his female counterpart, and being a small unit, the atmosphere turned from a little bit chilly to freezing cold!  This was rather unfortunate, as the rain continued to pour, and all who were in the shop when I entered, remained there as I came to pay for my items.  Mr and Mrs ex-pat were still at odds with each other, and the rest of the customers were standing around praying for the storm to pass, before a alimony battle ensued! 

The rain must have caused a malfunction in brain activity, as there seemed to be great confusion in the mathematics area.  The first store was offering 25% off all items.  I was asked if I had received their 30% discount coupon in the post, and I replied in the affirmative. I was further asked, 'what would you like to do, take the 25% we are offering, or use your coupon?'  In the words of my fellow Texans, I considered this to be a 'no brainer', and opted for the larger discount.  Not seeing the conflict, the saleslady took my coupon and continued with the sale.  The next shop asked exactly the same question.  Perhaps even more disturbing was the comment from the salesperson in the sports shop, when I asked for the price of a 'hoodie'.  'Oh, they are half price.  Original price was $50, so that will be $30'.  It was after Samantha gave him 'the look', that he re-thought his comment. 
We left the outlet mall, having attempted to auction my premier parking space, which produced no interest, (cannot think why!) and went to the traditional indoor location which is near to where Samantha now resides.  We had missed the lunch time rush in both centers, and the usual tasty sample tidbits offered around the food court, which is normally just enough to keep us going, were not available.  I suggested Samantha take a pizza bite from a passing tray, but she declined, indicating that the lady carrying her lunch may object!  Auntie Annie's came to the rescue with a bite sized piece of pretzel, and I was once again ready to hit the crowds.  Victoria Secret, as usual, had crowds to spare!  Considering the original concept of making the weekend, 'tax free', to give parents a break when kitting their children out for school, there was an inordinate amount of cheeky underwear being sold, as all took advantage of the price tag being the actual price when hitting the check outs. 

Our purchases were not considerable, and we left the second mall (again with very little interest in my great parking spot) for Walmart, and arrived home shortly before five.  It was probably the longest shopping trip I have had for a very long time, and Samantha was starting to think it was going to compete with her Thanksgiving extravaganzas, but we managed to sit by the pool for an hour, which thrilled Dana, as he was able to dog sit for a little longer.  Dana was even more thrilled when Samantha and Edward decided to take further advantage of the discounts on Sunday, and we were once again left with Frank. 

With the threats of more storms, and hurricane season in full swing, I am making the most of my 'pool time', before the autumnal evenings arrive.  Hot weather will continue, so I am told, and whilst England enjoys its August Bank Holiday, I am going to work tomorrow.  However, the football season has started on both sides of the Atlantic, so I know we are moving on to the cooler times.  Time does not stand still, not even for .................. another story.

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