I love a good mall. Not all malls are good malls. In fact, most malls today kind of suck, having fallen on hard times and now consisting of only undesirable stores. But when you find a good mall ... oh, yeah.
My mall-going started young. My parents used to take me to our local mall, the Santa Anita Fashion Park (now Westfield or Simon or one of those), where I would play in the playground. The playground consisted of animals that were, get this, made of wood. And you climbed on them. The elephant's trunk was also a slide of sorts.
At the mall there was a department store called Buffum's. The cool thing about Buffum's was that it had a tiny little toilet in the bathroom, just for kids. (Like all department stores, Buffum's is now a Macy's.)
As a youth, my favorite stores in the mall were The Expanding Wall (sort of like Hot Topic) and the Hello Kitty store. They were right across from my favorite mall restaurant, La Petite Boulangerie. Ooh, and that mall had a Magic Pan crepe place, which reminds me of a Seinfeld reference ...
Of course, I loved the mall as a young teenager. Honestly, I have no idea why, because it's not like I had a lot of money to spend there. But the mall had a bookstore where I could buy Baby-Sitters Club books, and a music store where I could buy single tapes, and those two stores plus food and candy were enough to make me happy. I don't know what today's teenagers are buying at the mall, because most of the stores these days seem out of their price range. But then, doesn't it seem like today's teenagers somehow have more spending money than we did? And also, doesn't it seem like the mall is not a popular hangout for teenagers anymore?
When I got older and I could drive, I drove to the mall. And my mall obsession continued into adulthood. When I was a single person who had ample time to myself, I would usually go to the mall and do some shopping. I just loved the way the mall was a total experience, with the shopping and the crowds and all the food options.
Now that I'm toting a toddler around, the mall is a different kind of experience, but still a really great one. Now, for the locals reading this, I am referring to the Orland Square mall, not the crap-tastic Lincoln Mall.
I made a trip to the Orland Square mall yesterday. That mall has a playground that is sponsored by the local hospital and, as such, has a medical theme. Kids slide down giant band-aids and climb ambulances, all heavily-padded, of course. Kind of a far cry from the wooden mall animals of my youth. In addition to the playground, the mall has a merry-go-round and a Thomas train you can ride. Plus there are little add-on activities like taking your picture in a photo booth or going to the Lego store. The food court is kind of crappy, but there's a Taco Bell, which makes the average kid happy, and a Baskin-Robbins for dessert. Occasionally you even get to do a little shopping for yourself.
I get giddy just thinking about the mall. It's just such a perfect place for indoor entertainment that it might be the best thing about winter.
But, and there's always a but, I have recently become very frustrated by the growing trend of cart people in the mall. By this I mean people pedaling various wares from carts in the middle of the mall. These poor people must work solely on commission, because they are barking at every single person who comes by. And they argue with you if you say "no thanks" to their offers. Today I had the following exchange with an annoying lady selling straightening irons:
Her: Can I show you my straightening irons?
Me: Oh, no thank you.
Her: Do you straighten your hair?
Her: Why not?
Me: Well, it takes too long, and I have him [gesturing at Nathan].
Her: Our irons don't take long. Why don't you try one?
If you're wondering why I hadn't walked away at that point, it was because I was digging in my purse for a coupon. (The coupon got me a free "panty" at Victoria's Secret. First of all, the word panty is stupid. Second, when I picked out said undergarment, Nathan was sitting in the stroller demanding that he see the one I selected. "Let me see your underwear!" he repeatedly yelled. Yeah.)
So anyway, on my way out of the mall I passed by that straightening iron lady again, and she said, "Hey, Mommy, let me give you my card!" Look, lady, calling me "Mommy" is not earning you any business. Am I your mother? No. Do I want my sole identity to be as "Mommy" to the entire world? No.
Oh, and another guy was selling these weird fake cigarettes that taste and feel like cigarettes, but can be smoked indoors. And then he acted all confused when I told him I didn't smoke. I recently heard that only 20% of people nationwide are smokers. Why is it so shocking to this man when I say I don't smoke?
But, aggressive peddlers aside, yesterday was a good day at the mall. I had coupons for a free pair of underwear and a free $12 body wash from Bath and Body Works. (My favorite scent is Midnight Pomegranate, which I use to make showering at the gym more pleasant.) Plus Nathan and I stuffed a turkey at Build-a-Bear, and I found a $5 off coupon on the counter there, too! So our turkey was only $5! Nathan named him Hogan, after Hogan's Heroes, which my husband watches on a continuous loop on DVD. (In case you haven't heard of this show, it's about these American soldiers who are imprisoned in a German POW camp during WWII. And it's a comedy. Because nothing says hilarious like Nazis.)
Getting back to my day at the mall, I bought myself some purple eye shadow at Sephora. I have always wanted to wear purple eye shadow, but I didn't think I could pull it off with brown eyes. But I think the shade I got is okay. It's a little bit more fun than my normal style of makeup, but I figure it's not like I do anything during the day that requires me to look serious. So tomorrow, I'll be the mom at Tot Time story hour with the fun purple eye shadow!