We’d both spent time in our youth visiting this mall, which shall remain nameless. (Let’s be coy and say that it’s a little “square.”) We thought it would be interesting to visit it again.
We were insane.
I won’t say exactly how long it had been since my last visit, since that would date me, but it was approximately four score and seven years. Here’s to presidents that speak in code!
We circumvented the grounds but could not glean how to gain entry to the mall innards. So, we parked at one end and hacked our way through JC Penney. My tracking skills told me this would get us inside.
I was right!
Yanking my baby hard, I immediately veered left. As required by mall penal code, we pulled up at Mrs. Fields for some chocolate cookies a.k.a. “mall fuel.”
Strolling along, blocking the path of energetic youngsters who are too stupid to grok the concept of traffic flow, I spotted a Lego store. (See inset photo, top right.) “What the? I gotta check this out.”
This is where we picked up a passenger on our expedition.
Inside we found lots of Lego toy pieces. Why am I not surprised? I mentioned to the Lego Dude that I’d never been in a Lego store before. He escorted us to a figure kiosk and invited us to play Dr. Frankenstein amongst the assembled garish body parts. He said that whatever we built would be ours – gratis!
Oh, thank you, Lego gods.
I promptly grabbed the sluttiest parts I could find. Viola! Introducing a new denizen of the Abyss, Helga, the Scantily Clad And Grumpy About It Mermaid. She’s about 5’3″ tall, a natural blond, and has a perpetual scowl on her face. She’s not height/weight proportional and if you point that out you’ll get a harpoon to the face. She prefers to go au naturel except for a star fish necklace and a couple of shells covering her clams. Her tail is hanging out there for all to see.
As we worked our way through the mall, we made her earn her keep. (Keep reading. You’ll see.)
Exiting the Lego store with our freebie third-wheel, a kiosk woman pounced on my wife, squirted lotion on her arm and began rubbing her skin like she was in love.
“Don’t make eye contact,” I yelled, but it was already too late. Shopper down! I called in for air support only to be told that napalm was currently out of fashion.
The woman aggressively held my wife’s arm in her death grip, rubbed furiously, actually in contact with her skin, then picked up a cloth, wiped the oily stuff away and shoved the tissue in our faces.
“See?” she proudly proclaimed as if that meant something. I looked but had no idea I was supposed to be looking at. Even so, I nodded sagely, as if I actually knew something.
The kiosk maiden then leaned in and whispered conspiratorially into my wife’s ear. “This is normally $120 but I can let you have it for $50.”
You gotta be shitting me. The TV commercial approach works even less in real life than it does on TV. I hated her.
We escaped her gravitational pull and then … wham! Out of nowhere, somehow, we were standing next to an official Apple store. Nerd joy! I’d never seen one before.
I walked in and a scruffy but friendly young man wearing a cap, earbuds and apparently rocking out with his iTunes greeted us. I told him I needed a cable to take audio out from my Apple TV to the home stereo. The Apple TV doesn’t provide RCA plugs. Only something called “Optical Audio.” As near as I can figure that’s sound that you look at.
Definition: Optical Audio
Sound that you look at. Ex: That song looks lovely.
–Tom B. Taker
This question befuddled the scruffy guy, so he scampered to find someone else. We were handed off and explained our question anew. This befuddled the new guy. He went to find another guy “who knows about these things.” At last, the new guy returned to enlighten us. Apparently we were not granted access to this other guy. “There is an adapter for that, but we don’t carry it. Try Radio Shack. For that,” he said ominously, “you’ll have to proceed deeper. In this very same mall!”
About the most fun I had in the Apple store was watching a kid play Minecraft on one of the demo iMacs. Those sure were pretty colors. LOL! Kids these days. He didn’t even have a crafting table.
We exited unsatisfied. I remarked, “That didn’t feel very ‘genius’ to me.” Nerd rage!
Back in the throng, I spotted a kiosk of remote control helicopters. I own one of these things. (See my obituary.) They offered aircraft in my rating class and lots of other sizes, some much, much bigger. As my eyes briefly darted to look at one of the things, a guy about 50 meters leaped out of a chair and sprinted in my direction. “Want to take it for a test flight?” he demanded breathlessly.
The man had a keen eye.
“How much is this one?” I asked, pointing at the biggest.
“You fly. Then I tell. Besides, the cost varies based on options, packages, undercoating, and if you lease or buy. Also how much you put down.”
“No,” I replied. “You tell. Then I leave.”
After much haggling, I remained firm, he finally revealed it was about $150. “Thanks,” I muttered as I shuffled away. I thought about asking if it could be used for suicides by remote control, but at that point I just wanted to escape.
By now my wife was thirsty. So we wandered up a wonder of wonders. It was stairs that moved, as if to go upwards! Once there, it was a wondrous and spacious place filled with all sorts of places to eat. All of them were surround by what I can only assume were Improv Anywhere flash mobs. Worse, TV screens suspended from the ceiling were blaring advertising messages like a scene from a science fiction movie.
Wait in line, get shitty mall food, and be subliminally programmed to boot? No, thank you!
All she had wanted was a beverage. Denied! We split, still thirsty, taking another magical stairway from the world of Harry Potter and escaped.
We never did see the king of the food court, either. I wanted to lodge a complaint that his realm sucked.
We wandered some more and found a trendy kitchen and housewares store. I passed on the $80 skeleton face punch bowl. They didn’t have the item my wife wanted. But, they did have a stainless steel beer growler. Mission accomplished! This just might be the best day of my life. I promptly named it Excalibur.
One of our last stops was the Cheesecake Factory.
Again, even though it was like 3pm on a Saturday afternoon, that place was packed. We perused the slices in the case, though.
They had Kahlua cheesecake, something I’ve wanted for a long time. We thought we’d take a couple pieces home for dessert.
Not at $8 a slice, though. And I’ve had bigger slivers in my big toe. More bitter disappointment.
Finally, just as we were about to turn around and begin the long trek back to our car, we spotted the Radio Shack. I shrugged. “Might as well take a look,” I said with all the enthusiasm of a Lance Armstrong who had never taken drugs.
One of the staff grudgingly acknowledged the possibility that I existed and, wonder of wonders, knew what I was talking about. He even went so far as to lead me through the shelves of assorted shit and point to an empty place where, theoretically, the product I wanted might or might not actually exist. “If we had one,” he said, “it would be $39.99.”
With that dazzling display of mall powers, we skedaddled. I’m told some life forms actually enter these mall places. Voluntarily! I pity them.
Note: All photos in this post were taken with an iPod, no doubt in violation of many store policies. I’m very proud of that.