Don't ask me why, but the shopping malls in Bethesda, Maryland appear to have become a magnet for messed up behavior. For those outside of the DC area, Bethesda is in Montgomery County, one of the most affluent locations in America. (For the record, I do not count toward Montgomery County's affluence. Big time no.) I think, mostly because of the wealth, I didn't initially recognize the county - and Bethesda in particular - as a potential Hellmouth, yet it surely is.
I think it all started with the man who went berserk at a bus stop outside of Montgomery Mall. A bus driver refused to let this gent ride, as he did not have the required fare. The frustrated rider's response was to whip out a big kitchen knife (c'mon - you carry one to the mall, too, don't you?) and go to town on the bus driver. If I'm not mistaken, he stabbed at least one passenger, too, before fleeing on foot. I don't recall hearing if he was ever caught. Fortunately, his victims survived.
This was followed by the broad daylight rape of a 16-year-old in the parking lot of the Wildwood strip mall, just a half mile from the bus stabbing location. Several people apparently just walked and drove right past the open-sided mini-van where a nut had duct taped the girl down while he assaulted her. (You know, when you're in a hurry to deposit a check at the Suntrust drive-thru or you're late to your appointment at the Red Door, you're bound to miss the rocking mini-van, the spilled groceries or the screaming teenager...) Finally, someone realized what was going on and chased the man away. He was caught, and it was uncovered that he had pulled this number at least one time before. Charming.
Now, in a little over a two week period, we've had the following:
1. A woman goes nuts at the customer service counter at Nordstroms in Montgomery Mall and stabs two people repeatedly with a butcher knife before she is tackled by an off-duty FBI agent.
2. Some guy gets stabbed in the parking lot outside Dave & Busters at White Flint Mall (just north of my apartment)
and, just to make it all so much worse...
3. A mom sends her 4-year-old and 6-year-old sons into a food court men's room at Montgomery Mall. When it seems to take too long, she opens the men's room door to discover a man touching the boys innappropriately. The man bolted and was not apprehended.
I've never been a big fan of shopping malls. If I stay in a mall too long, I get a headache I've dubbed "mall head" and have to leave. I very rarely go to Montgomery Mall - and man, for the record, that mall has the skeeziest movie theater in the area (except for the Uptown with its rat problem). Montgomery Mall did provide me with one of those "man, I wish I had a camera with me" moments a few years ago, though - at Christmastime, I saw Lorena Bobbitt standing outside Chesapeake Knife & Tool. Knife & Tool. I tell ya, that was a million dollar shot. I have to wonder for whom she was shopping. (Heh heh heh.) Never gonna happen again. Sigh.
White Flint is the upscale mall about 2 miles from my place. I'm not upscale, personally, so it has limited appeal. I go to White Flint mostly to meander around Borders and get a tuna sub at Jerry's, but that's it. And even those treks are few and far between - Borders is a dangerous place for me. Too much potential for spending moolah I do not have.
But now, I have even more reasons to avoid the mall. I'm not good around crazy people with knives. (Who is?) In fact, I'm not good around knives in general. Just ask the Sasquatch - I can't cut a bagel without injuring myself. And I think most of us have a secret "beat the crap out of the pedophile" fantasy. I know I do. Mine might get me arrested if I encountered one of those bastards.
I think I'll just stick with online shopping, thanks. No knives. No bathroom loonies. It's better this way.