I hate shopping malls. It’s not just that they are a symbol of rampant consumerism. It's not just that they suck the life energy out of me. It’s because they confuse me. I have a bad sense of directions as it is, but my architect students tell me that malls are actually designed deliberately to get the shoppers lost, so that they will lose track of time and spend eternity in the hellish maze of stores where they will have no choice but to buy things.
Here in Snowstorm region, you can’t really go to a store of any type without going into a mall. (Grocery stores are the single exception.) Perhaps it’s the cold winter weather we get, but people here love malls. Even most of our movie theaters are located inside malls. I have lived near the same mall my whole life and I even worked there for a year in high school, but I still get lost trying to find my way around it.
When I do have to brave the mall, I usually take my Smart Wonderful Beautiful Daughter with me. She somehow has the skill necessary to negotiate the confusing maze of stores. And she knows enough, when she sees me get that glazed look on my face, to lead me gently out to the car before my head explodes.
This morning, we went on an unavoidable shopping trip to a music store that was deep inside the mall. After about thirty minutes, I was starting to feel that panicky claustrophobic feeling I always get when lost inside a building that has no windows at all, just racks and racks of brand new merchandise. We began making our way out, and my daughter said, "You know how sometimes at college, I’ll go to a party and I’ll have to walk home a friend who’s completely trashed? And I’ll have to watch out for her – no, don’t walk into that bush, here come this way, no, you can’t chase that kitty cat."
"Yeah?" I asked, wondering why she was taking the time to tell me that story at a time when I needed her expert guidance to get us out of the mall. I paused because we had just reached an escalator. In the midst of my mall daze, I knew that somehow we had to go down to the bottom floor to get to my car. My daughter tugged me away, "No, Mom, that one is COMING UP."
She guided me over to the right escalator and then laughed, "See, this is just like being with a drunk friend."