I LOVE malls so very much I don’t even know where to begin, but maybe I should start where all good things do: biscuits. Popeye’s biscuits from the food court, specifically. Oh my god, my mouth is already watering.
Biscuits are not my first stop, though. I guess it depends on the mall, really, and what time of day I arrive. If this is going to be an all-day or at least three-hour affair, the key is to get a bit of a mall breakfast while still allowing myself time and stomach space for a snack and — if I’m really lucky and at “the fancy mall” — dinner. “The fancy mall” normally doesn’t have a Popeye’s or an Auntie Ann’s, so I have to think about what kind of mall mood I’m in and plan my meals accordingly. Ugh, I am overwhelmed. I wish I’d started there. Okay, starting over.
I love malls so very much, because to begin with, there are so many kinds of malls. In your hometown and mine, there is the high-school-hangout mall, the fancy mall and the kind-of-sucky-but-convenient-for-errands mall. Don’t try to peg this on suburbs alone, readers: I am from San Francisco and, as we say in our native tongue, we have hella malls. There’s Stonestown (high school mall), The One Downtown (fancy mall), Serramonte (the kind-of-sucky-but-convenient-for-errands mall).
I am just so excited to be writing about this that I can’t focus. I wonder if I’ll win a Pulitzer.
Once I’ve identified my mall mood, a choice that also depends on how I look that day and who I’d like to avoid/run into, then I just have to show up and have the best time ever, really. I am never wasting a hot or rainy day at a mall. I’m A) walking, B) socializing, C) not sitting at home.
Malls are like cardiovascular nostalgia tours. When I visit my dad in New Jersey (great mall state) and we go to the kind-of-sucky-but-convenient-for errands mall near his work (fun for me because I don’t run into anyone/terrible for him because he runs into everyone), I like to do a lap of my youth and make grand, dramatic statements about how life was so easy back then. Sometimes I walk past Hot Topic and stare longingly at the enterprising kids who make money by being moderately helpful to the soundtrack of heavy death metal. Those were the good old days. Sometimes I walk past Abercrombie & Fitch just to get a whiff of Fierce, a cologne that still triggers false feelings of love in my head when I smell it. Sometimes I go into Victoria’s Secret just to see if I’m eligible for a free pair of underwear for having a birthday or something. But I always, always walk past the old haunts where my high school friends and I would hang out. I like to know who’s trying to unsuccessfully usurp our legacy.
My mom and I do malls too, but when I’m with her we are typically on deadline for something I forgot to pack, like an important outfit component required for something dress-code related. I am 29 years old, thank you for asking. Once I find said component, all stressed and strung out because it always has a weird bauble on it or cost more than I estimated, we go to the Nordstrom’s Cafe and order artichoke dip and Diet Cokes and sit in the same seat. When we finish, we spend about an hour or more wandering around, looking at eye shadow and expensive jeans.
Here are some thoughts about malls that didn’t have a place in any of the above paragraphs: Why do all malls smell so good? Why are they so cold? Why is it so satisfying to wear a sweatshirt with shorts in that kind of temperature? Why do I suddenly need a new skincare routine, cell phone case, hair straightener and Tempurpedic pillow after I emerge from those little bodega clusters? Why don’t I go to malls more often? Why does everyone hate on them?
The last thing I like to do when I leave a mall — the fancy mall, at least — is have dinner at a mall restaurant (I dream about Joe’s All American Bar and Grill), even though I’m probably full from a weird and unnecessary snack I bought at Starbucks while waiting for someone at the Genius Bar to tell me that a hard reset is all it takes. I like to climb into a dinner booth and crush all my shopping bags between me and the wall. I like to eat an entire loaf of bread while waiting for the waiter to stop telling us about the specials. Between courses, I like to go through my purchases and admire my taste and get excited about giving any gifts I bought. On the ride home, so long as I’m not at the wheel, I like to fall asleep immediately. Malls are exhausting. I love them so much.