I am going to the mall today. I've put it off as long as possible but next week Charlie will be home for Christmas break and I won't want to leave his side to finish my holiday shopping. Instead, I will offer him hot chocolate with marshmallows every ten minutes, ruffle his hair nearly as often and bend down to smile directly into his face at unexpected intervals....this is standard behavior when he's home and cannot be interrupted by a trip to the mall.
I hate the mall. It's always terribly hot inside and today, it's simply too cold a day to leave my jacket in the car since, at this time of year, the lot is packed and I may have to hitchhike to the entrance. The first level has become an obstacle course, packed with holiday kiosks (Crocs, calendars and smoked sausages from Hickory Farms) and filled with salespeople hell-bent on grooming my eyebrows, rubbing cream made with salt from the Dead Sea into my skin or giving me a massage. In the past, to avoid confrontation, all one had to do was walk past them briskly, avoiding all eye contact. They're more determined now that it's Christmas and eye-contact or no, will approach with jars and bottles at the ready. If you refuse, they shout after you, calling you filthy names and accusing you of having crepey skin or a chicken neck. Okay, they don't really do that but I'm scared they will.
Then there are "the men" in the department store. They have apparently never shopped or handled money before in their lives and, quite possibly, only recently emerged from some type of larvae in which genetically enriched mucus has been transformed into a small army of male shoppers who haven't a clue--about anything. Emerging, in December, from the chrysalis in which they've developed, they find their way to the mall where they stumble about, blocking your way, looking helpless, whimpering softly and asking efficient, yet extremely sweaty, women for help. Holding up a bright red blouse, one will say something like, "My wife's favorite color is blue, will she like this?"
How about the woman who is before you on line? She's got an immense armload of stuff and has offered to let you go before her but, for some inexplicable reason, you laugh and say, "Oh, no thanks!" You've both been waiting for quite a while and have been making pleasant conversation but when it's finally time to put her purchases on the counter, her head suddenly spins 360 degrees and, vomiting pea soup, she whips out a huge wad of store coupons held together by a rubber band. She and the cashier then proceed to painstakingly match each one to the correct item, debate about whether they can be combined and summon a manager to referee the conflict as you feel your arches slowly falling and your hopes for ever leaving the store, fading.
There are the hordes of teens giggling by the escalators and college freshmen home for their first Christmas break, all wearing Uggs and conspicuously new sweatshirts from their alma maters-to be, are popping in and out of J. Crew in a steady stream. If you're tired and need to sit for a moment, forget it. All available public seating is taken by men who are waiting for their wives who are either in Sephora or Victoria's Secret. These men are either obviously impatient--tapping a toe and fidgeting, or appear dead.
The food court is too crowded if you want a snack, the bathrooms are too far away if you need to go and there's a gigantic close-up photo of a set of abs in the window of Abercrombie that has attracted a crowd.
I ate a healthy breakfast, limited my coffee intake, have dressed in layers and set the DVR to record two hours of Cash Cab. I'll let you know how it all went tomorrow.