The Mall? Rats!

Like many people, my family and I have been sitting on pins and needles awaiting the Supreme Court’s healthcare ruling. But, being sickened by the healthcare wait and desperately wanting a more comfortable seat, we loaded up the truck last Saturday and went to the mall.

Normally I consider a trip to the mall about as much fun as watching one of Lana Del Rey’s live performances, and this day was atypically normal. I think all malls should be named Darth. But as it was an Official Family Fun Time Outing to The Mall of America coordinated and sanctioned by The Queen Mother, attendance was mandatory.

For those unfamiliar with The Mall of America, or as the hip linguists here in Minnesota call it, “MOA,” allow me to offer a brief paragraphic history:

Built in 1992, the mall is the size of 7 Yankee Stadiums or 32 Boeing 747s or 14 Cinnabons. It contains over 520 stores and if you were to spend just 10 minutes in each, it would take you 86 hours to realize you should have done something much more productive. Built in a circular square, MOA contains an aquarium and the world’s largest indoor amusement park chocked full of vomit-inducing mechanisms. It totals a whopping 3.2 million square feet of gross building area and almost a million square feet of building area that is not gross as it is much better maintained.

This was our destination Saturday as The Queen Mother rousted up our teenage daughters, Thing 1 and Thing 2, early–so early, in fact, that we were able to leave the house almost by noon. Maybe it’s just me, but if one has the resources to “get ready” to go to the mall, perhaps one does not need to go to the mall. Not only that, one male spending significant time with three women is not the ideal situation because there is a difference between the sexes that is, well…somewhat delicate.

Once each month women get something that men don’t and this something is–how shall I say–uncomfortable. For some it causes localized pain; for others, headaches. For some it causes a certain grumpiness; for others depression. Some are worse than others but all have to be dealt with: They are credit card bills. Women love to shop. Men not so much. Men do shop, but in an entirely different manner.

Men are shopping commandos. He’s after one thing: primary target only. Case the location, get in, secure the item, get out. If it’s not there, abort. Back to base. Ready for another attack. No targets of opportunity.

Women however, shop like it‘s springtime in Paris. They stroll along the Seine-like corridors, leisurely smelling the flowery Body Shops and breathing the fresh Hickory Farms air as they hum catchy muzak tunes and sincerely consider whether they might actually look like the size negative four mannequin in that outfit. Of course they eventually have to find out for sure, so more often than not a typical trip to the mall ends up with me holding a purse slumped over a rack of intimates outside a maze of formica dressing rooms wondering if they would let me use them if I had a potato in the back of my pants.

So admittedly, my attitude was less than stellar as I meandered in and out amongst the faceless masses who were in search of stuff other people told them to buy. It did improve slightly, however, as I rounded a corner and the scent of Yankee Candle morphed into that of the food court’s deep-fried deliciousness. And MOA is nice because when you need to take a break from your excessive consumption, you can always go to the amusement park and ride the vomit machines. This is what Thing 2 and I did.

We split up and decided to meet back at Orange Julius, which, if you’ve ever seen John Boehner, was probably his nickname in college. Against my better and considerably older wishes, Thing 2 wanted to go on the “Log Ride,” a staple at any amusement park–especially one that happens to be across from Staples. The Log Ride is a gentle, unhurried float down an elevated river that culminates with a terroristic freefall into a pool of tepid nastiness and is usually called something clever like Disney’s “Splash Mountain” or Six Flags‘ “Logger‘s Run” or Parque de la Cuidad’s “Aguas Terbulentas.” Whatever it’s called, the purpose is to get your pants wet in conspicuous locations.

“But I just don’t want to get my phone wet,” I tried to explain to her. “My pants will not keep it dry and ruining it would be really bad.”

Unfortunately, that conversation was caught on tape and was picked up by the editing wizards at NBC News. When it aired that night I was saying, “I just…wet…my pants…really bad.” And thanks to the Log Ride, it looked like it.

Oh, well. What’s a few more feet of gross building area?

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