Well past professional burn-out this year, I squeezed in a vacation day today. I only hit the work email during a few “off the wagon” moments early this morning, but then turned off every digital apparatus within reach and forced myself into vacation mode… The addiction to these devices is probably worth a post of its own, but not today. Today? It’s all about THE MALL!
Oh yeah. I said it. THE MALL. What better way to truly enjoy a Friday to myself than hitting an American past-time during an economic recession? I gotta tell you — it’s been years since I spent any actual time in a mall. I’m not talking the errands or forced Christmas marches. I’m talking living and breathing what the mall actually is…
It started with arriving an hour before the stores opened. I dropped Chris at work and headed over for an hour of luxurious reading of the full NY Times at Starbucks, where a very hot barista whipped up my drink. In vacation mode, I thought I was turning on the charm when I smiled and thank him. “Absolutely, sir,” was his response. CRACK went the fragile veneer of my mid-life ego. The kid thought I was someone’s dad, or worse, someone’s grandpa. I emailed Chris immediately in my despair that my groove was off, to which he quickly responded that I should just be grateful the kid didn’t take me by the elbow and lead me to the overstuffed reading chair. Reality check accomplished. Back to THE MALL.
I was overwhelmed by the exercisers… Not blue-haired women in velour track suits, no. But the Edina Mommies (Edina is the affluent city in which the mall is located), their matching black and white work-out gear, and the tricked out three-wheeled strollers or the double-wides for twins that were literally jamming the place. Check out this photo — yes, there is a group of women jumping rope, doing calisthenics, and actually yelling out the numbers and repetitions aloud while their children looked on in horror or delight.
And then there is the notorious Cinn-A-Bon store. Just like at the airport, the fragrance of sugary delight teases you the moment you enter the promenade. But check out this photo! It’s a CUP OF ICING with cinnamon roll bits in it! Really! I had to take a picture because I had never seen anything like it! Can you even imagine the carbohydrate crash after ingesting THAT? Calories? Who can count them? No wonder the Edina Mommies are screaming in exercise agony. They’re forced to view this monstrosity lap after lap after lap!
And then there was the mall cop: AKA Pat. Cherubic lesbian on a power trip astride a two-wheeled Segway. She was moving so fast, I couldn’t get her on my iPhone camera. She was everywhere. And this mall was three levels. I swear there were secret elevators somewhere. And she busted me for photographing a poster ad in the mall. (It simply reminded me of myself in dress pants, so I had to photograph it to underscore the fact that men with guts like me are now the subject of ad campaigns… yet another post for another day) She free-wheeled right up to me with an angelic smile on her very round face and admonished me for using a camera in the mall. I was actually taken aback and asked her to please explain to me why I couldn’t use a camera to take a picture of this ad, when hordes of parents were around the corner photographing their kids with a badly costumed Easter Bunny? She replied that no cameras were allowed in the mall for security reasons. Safety reasons. It was a danger to the mall employees because those with cameras could be “casing the mall.” And remember she never stepped off her Segway to deliver this protective nonsense. Oh no. Two-wheeled and proud. But let’s think about this. I’m in Minnesota for gods’ sake! And its me! The guy who was just dissed by Starbucks barista as someone’s grandpa! Am I really casing the mall with an iPhone in one hand and the remnants of a Cinn-A-Bon in the other? Really?
At that point I thought I had experienced enough of THE MALL for one day, so headed to the adjacent theatre to catch a film — at 10:30 A.M., mind you. THAT’S where I found the blue-haired group in their velour track suits. In one long row at a 10:30 AM showing of Duplicity. Long live Clive Owen. And the Blue Hairs.
I called it a day after that, headed out to my car — passing one of the fitness femmes attempting to change a diaper on the promenade with one hand, keep a latte from spilling in the other, all while engaged in a conversation via the cell phone tucked under her chin. Her other child? Commandeering the empty stroller and heading toward the Easter Bunny. Priceless. Just priceless. But once outside, I found myself trapped by yet another Mall Cop — this one boxing me in while providing jumper cable assistance to another Edina Mommy in distress in the parking lot. It’s hard to see you’ve left the lights on when you never take off your Gucci sunglasses, right? That dashboard is just so hard to read… And did I tell you that it’s public lore around here that Edina stands for “Every Day I Need Attention”? So true. And you thought the high maintenance boys on Fire Island and P-Town were bad. Nothing on us, baby. Nothing on us.
I finally found freedom via the freeway and headed home loaded with goodies — not from the mall, but for this post! I may not necessarily feel creatively rejuvenated via this vacation day at the mall, no. But I’ve definitely restocked my mental rolodex of images and items for conference calls and cocktail parties. And that’s worth a day off, any time.