Orange County is divided. There is North Orange County and South Orange County. No one in North Orange County ever admits to living there. They will say, "I live near Disneyland," or "I live in Orange County," but they will never, ever, say, "I live in North Orange County." It's just not verbalized, ever. There are some nice areas in North Orange County, but the North does not have the status or the sparkling image of the South.
Let's pause for a minute so that my North County readers can send me a few quick angry emails. Okay, then …
People who live in South Orange County are very outspoken about it. The two areas are as different as night and day and no one living in South Orange County wants to be mistakenly connected to North Orange County. South Orange County is more affluent and even those struggling financially here feel like they are a part of a richer lifestyle just by saying, "I might not be able to pay my bills but I live in South County." South County is cleaner, less congested, the land of ritzy outdoor malls, and home to the uber rich and famous.
It's like a civil war, but slightly different.
The TV shows about Orange County are all based on South County.
South County is the land of materialism and superficiality. Image matters. The type of car you drive, the size of your home, all the materialistic stuff is taken into account when you meet a Money Town resident and get sized up. I can't emphasize enough how important money and things are to the Money Town people who live here. The South is the land of plastic. People live on their platinum plastic cards and people look plastic from all of their cosmetic surgery.
I am neither rich nor a celebrity. I'm not the least bit plastic yet either. (However, if my nipples ever touch my knees I WILL reconsider my decision to forego plastic surgery.)
I never tire of the humor I'm surrounded with. Money Town people are flat-out funny. Their lifestyle is so insanely important to them, how can they not make you smile?
TR and I went shopping on "Black Friday." It's usually frenzied madness. Merchants offer sales and "deals" and normally rational people go berserk trying to save a buck. I'm sure many of you heard that a Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death this year in New York when he unlocked the doors to open the store?
What could possibly be so important inside a Wal-Mart? Discounted wrapping paper?
My entire life I've made a point to avoid shopping on Black Friday. I'm an introvert at heart, I don't really enjoy shopping; crowds and long lines irritate me. God played a joke on me and gave me a daughter like TR. She loves to shop and thrills at the excitement of Black Friday. Last year she talked me into a 4 a.m. Black Friday shopping expedition. This year, we arrived a little later but we were still there participating with all the crazies.
It was a cool 72 degrees this year. (I turn my heater on when it hits 70, because brrrrr!) I've never seen so many girls wearing short shorts and/or very short skirts with Ugg boots. Some of them also threw a scarf around their neck as if the weather was cold. They looked … ridiculous. Really? What can they be thinking? Is this supposed to be sexy? In contrast, I wore jeans, a t-shirt, and flip flops. You know it's winter here when I'm wearing jeans instead of shorts.
I'm always a fashion statement.
At our first stop, a local mall, there were a lot of shoppers. There were not a lot of people buying though. It seemed like many people were purchasing only sale items, fewer items than years past, and "window shopping" which is not typical on Black Friday. Granted, I was not at an electronics store. Maybe the huge plasma TVs were hopping off the shelves like they were last year, but I didn't see many people purchasing much.
The biggest shock came when we visited the Irvine Spectrum
. The Spectrum is a huge outdoor mall and on any given day it's packed. Except it wasn't. I've never seen the place so empty. There wasn't even anyone on the ferris wheel.
I know it might seem strange to some of you that we have outdoor malls. Stranger still that we have ferris wheels in the middle of them, but the weather here allows it. There are also a lot of fountains at our outdoor malls and oftentimes there's a band playing too.
No, this is not Disneyland. This is a mall on Black Friday. Where are the crowds?
We ended up stopping into several local malls over the weekend. It did seem like the high end stores were still selling to the exceptionally rich. A Louis Vuitton salesman told me he had sold a $110,000 purse. A personal shopper made the purchase for her client. He joked about wishing he had that amount of money "to buy a few cars." Overall, however, he reported business was slow.
Personally, I didn't buy much either. I purchased each of my kids one pair of jeans and that was pretty much it. I haven't been out at all this week due to being sick. Maybe things have picked up? I can't help wondering though, if it's this slow in affluent South County, what's it like in the rest of the country? Or for that matter, in the rest of the world? Is everyone waiting until the last minute to purchase gifts? What's it like where you live?