I went to the mall on Saturday. It was a a whole production, a full day out. My friend, who has a car, drove us out of the city, along humdrum highways, out to the soulless suburbs that housed the sprawling outlet shopping mall. The occasion was: (a) tax-free shopping day in the state of Virginia, and (b) a dire need on both his part and mine for fall clothing (prior to the shopping trip, my wardrobe literally consisted entirely of dresses – I owned one pair of pants).
My day at the mall brought back memories. “Going to the mall” was an integral part of my suburban youth in Connecticut. In high school, teenagers would hang out at the mall on weekdays after school finished. On the weekends, I’d tag along with my Mom to the mall while she did her shopping. It was the thing you did. What else, after all, was there to do in the suburbs?
I forgot how overwhelming the mall can be. A throbbing mass of humanity slowly ebbs through the mall like blood through arteries, except the arteries are artificial tunnels lined with bright shiny distractions and broadcast with muzak, and the blood clots up around corners and on escalators. And the flow slows down for strollers and toddlers and a troop of teenagers and that wobbling obese person in too-tight jeans who struggles to walk from Auntie Anne’s pretzels to Bath &Body Works and is blocking your access to the exit when you really need to get out NOW! Okay, calm down and breathe…
And then there is the food court. The food court is the pumping heart of the shopping mall beast. All those suburban blue-jean blood cells fixed onto plastic swivel seats in between the greasy smell of heat-lamp Chinese noodles and the pepperoni pheromones of Sbarro’s fat triangle pizza by the slice and the sweet cinnamon scent of Cinnabon. My slow loop of the food court reveals a falafel sandwich as the only remotely healthy food item. And there I am, another blood cell, eating my falafel, chomping chomping chomping, before continuing my circuit of the tunnels of consumption, buying buying buying.
I now own six pairs of pants total.