Have you been to the mall lately? And when I say, The Mall, I’m not referring to any one specific structure dedicated to the Gods of Retail. I’m talking about the one that’s close enough to your ‘hood to be simply “The Mall” in your daily vernacular.
That’s true for me, too, by the way. I’ve lived within a 10 or 15 minute drive of the same mall most of my natural life.
Oh, and I’m not counting the new-fangled open-air mall things where you walk out of the Eddie Bauer store – into the honest-to-goodness out of doors, where the terrors of the world’s erratic climate threaten – and then down the sidewalk to the White House Black Market, potentially passing an over-priced pretzel place (which I refuse to believe is actually named for anyone’s auntie) between them. Don’t get me wrong, those kinds of retail places are nice, but they aren’t malls in my mind. They’re an artificial reproduction of the “Main Street” shopping districts that, I’m told, once formed the backbone of a community yet have mostly died out these days.
Where was I? Oh, yeah, The Mall. Personally, I feel the same way about the mall as I do the DMV: both are terrible, horrifying places to be avoided at any cost where entire days, if not years, can disappear into the ether with nothing to show.
Which is to say, I don’t go to The Mall often. But Friday afternoon, that’s where I found myself. See, I had some time to kill because, well, sometimes – and lately more often than strictly palatable – inconvenient things happen to one’s car, and you find you’ve got just under an hour or so to kill. Which is to say, you’ve got a enough of time that needs killing, but not enough for someone to come rescue you because when you got home it’d be time to turn right back around.
Anyway, last Friday afternoon, I intentionally took the car to a place near The Mall, thinking I could wander the place aimlessly for a while, possible playing the role of “creepy old-guy” to some local teens (because, hey, why not?), or perhaps just browse the mall bookstore.
What I want to know now is, what in the soggy-bottomed hell has happened to The Mall of my youth? I expected to the place to rotten with bored teenagers, loitering, getting in the way, and just generally being troublesome. But no. I mean, sure there was a smattering of teens here and there, but most of them appeared to be working or actually, you know, shopping.
The stores that are there sometimes make about as much sense as putting water wings on a pig. Sure, I’ll admit some still do, like your Children’s Place (a place to buy stuff for…wait for it…children!) and your Finish Line (shoes, which could be used for racing!). But then you’ve got this other place that appears to sell shoes called TradeHome. I’d have thought a place called TradeHome might have something to do with a trade. You know, a skill, like masonry or nail technician. Or if not that kind of trade, maybe it’d be a place to trade. Good old fashioned bartering alive and well in the U.S. of A. Wrong. It’s shoes.
How about Buckle? What the f#%*kle is at Buckle? I can tell you what’s not at Buckle: buckles. When I saw the name of the store, I thought, “Great, a place to get exciting accessory buckles…maybe I could finally get that huge Texas-shaped one I’ve always wanted or a pair of cute little shiny gold shoe suckers to wear on Thanksgiving!”
But no, apparently the place sells, um, clothes?
And Justice? Don’t get me wrong, I think The Mall is an excellent place to start adding some justice to the world. But apparently this place is not even remotely related to moral righteousness. No Law. No Order. Not even the familiar gong-GONG sound playing over the sound system. Nope, apparently this place sells rather questionably appropriate clothes for young girls. You know, because we need more of that as a society.
I don’t get it. I did happen to stumble across Teavana, which proudly displayed an impressive collection of both awesome-looking tea kettles and fine loose-leaf teas. Tea. At Teavana. That even makes sense. Of course, now I have to wonder why they didn’t name the place something abstract in keeping with the (apparent) current Mall Store Rules. You know, maybe something like “Defenestration”?
Luckily, before I could wander any further down the rabbit hole of nonsense that seems to have become The Mall in the years since my last visit, I got the call that my car was ready.
One can only hope I won’t have to go back there anytime soon.
Or at least until the place makes some sense again.
And gets a bookstore.