IT'S LIKE LIVING IN AN M.C. ESCHER drawing.
We wander into Georgetown Park and lean over the mezzanine railing and discover there are two stories beneath. Directly below is a nice little coffee shop where people are eating croissants.
Hmm. How to get there. Here is an elevator, but it only holds four people (or two people and four packages), and there is a line.
We stroll along the -- promenade? surely not a catwalk -- and look for an escalator. Ah, there is one across the hall. We walk around, take the escalator down to the middle floor, then walk clear back around again to the coffee shop.
It has taken us a long time, not the least because we passed 14 stores on the way and were bedazzled by windows full of chocolate golf balls, golden slippers, sequined dresses, black reindeer, zoot-suit lapels (is that right? is that Now?) on men with only half a head, and sweater-bearing mannequins so lifelike we averted our eyes.
Returning to the escalator -- Uh oh. There is no Up. It is only a Down. If we want to get back to the top floor, we have to take the stairs. Or -- Hey, there's an Up, way over there on the opposite side.
Now we are approaching the new annex. You want to go down? Fine, there's a Down escalator right here, but if you want the Up, it's over there across the way. You have to pass seven stores to get to it.
We move faster now because not all the stores are open for business yet. Is that chocolate we smell? It gets us to thinking about Musselman's chocolate caramels from our childhood, small dark-brown cubes that left your fingertips buttery. Musselman died years ago, though, and his secret died with him.
Where is that smell coming from? Is it Godiva? Clear up there on the third floor? Can we get there from here? Did you ever play three-dimensional chess?
Georgetown Park reminds us of the main shopping street in Redwood City, Calif., which was cut in half by the Southern Pacific railroad tracks, so the traffic came through in 10-minute pulses between trains. The traffic jam there lasted all day long. It took 20 minutes to go three blocks.
The merchants loved it. They thought people would be window- shopping, peering avidly across the sidewalk into the shoe stores (there were 18 of them) and dress shoppes while sitting and fuming in their cars. The shopkeepers fought every effort to speed up the flow.
We love Georgetown Park. We have been in here four days now. Do you know if there's a way out?