The Removal of Something Ugly

There is a particular feature of a particular shopping center in the beautiful, historic center of Prague which I have always detested. I have always detested it doubly because all of their advertising brochures (which I often do the proofreading for) brag about how they have gone to great lengths to preserve the historic beauty of the site, which essentially means “we did the bare legal minimum.” There are a couple of places, as you walk around the mall, that you will see some bits of ancient stone structure under plexiglass, and there’s one very pleasant fountain made out of 18th or 19th century horse troughs, but then there’s this one feature: a huge plastic panel, blocking the view of the top floors of the building, and featuring the logos of many of the shops within. It is the exact opposite of quaint and historical and it totally dominates the square where the building is. Even if it were a billboard beside the freeway, people driving by would say “That is a particularly large and obnoxious billboard, isn’t it” but in the center of Prague it was a flat out insult to the eyes.
And now it’s gone. My wife (who has some inside knowledge, or at least ready access to the rumor mill) says it’s gone permanently and I hope she’s right.
But here’s the funny thing. I was standing right in front of the building and didn’t even notice it was gone until she told me. Sort of like how you have an itch and then it goes away, you aren’t saying “I’m glad that itch went away,” you just forget all about it. Or when you have a song in your head that just won’t go away, and then it’s gone, you don’t start thinking “Oh, I’m glad I haven’t thought of that song for a while” because if you did, as soon as you did, it would be back.
Presence is noted more than absence. Just the way our brains work, I guess. In any event, I’m glad it’s gone.

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