Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mall Horror

Horrors from a Mall Trapped in the 80’s

Just now, when I searched the web for an interior shot of a mall that looked similar to the mall here in Rapid City, South Dakota, I came up empty handed and surprised. Go ahead, Google/Image the words “Shopping mall,” and you get these fancy feats of flashy urban architecture with swanky stores you’ve never heard of and slender, pretty people carrying Prada bags and wearing shoes that cost more than my rent--the complete opposite of what you’ll find here in Rapid City. To truly represent Rapid City’s mall, I was looking for something like a 1980’s-time-capsule: Claire’s, Payless Shoes, Spencers, Maurice’s, Casual Corner, Sears, etc., places you can still buy “Mom Jeans” in abundance, “top siders,” I-zods, stores complete with shag carpeting left over from the mid-80’s, bad lighting and people with questionable haircuts and dubious oral hygiene.

Imagine my indignant gasp. “Where’s the mullets and mutton-chop sideburns, the stone-washed denim and cowboy hats, the Wrangler too-tight jeans, women with muffin tops, hand/neck tattoos and old Sturgis Rally t-shirts?” I felt ripped off, cheated, and deeply sorry that the rest of the country Googling “Shopping Malls” might think Rapid City’s looked like their cosmopolitan counterparts. Maybe I ought to go back to the mall with Jen, this time armed with my digital camera and capture a little creative reality, post it to Google, so the truth be known.

What brings this nostalgia to mind?
I went to the mall with Jen this weekend.

You see this is rather a big deal, a sort of once-a-year event because we’re not girly girls who giggle manically with an armloads of trendy clothes, eager to see what newest, tight clothing fad can make us look like two pigs in a sack fighting, so we venture this excursion as sort of an exercise in modern sociology. And, I guess, to actually shop . . . a little.

Rapid City’s Most Frightful Mall Attractions:

1.Kiosk People.
You know, those little stands they set up at the mall to sell you things you clearly do not need at triple the price you could get a similar item at K-Mart. The most offensive in the Rapid City mall is the booth trying to sell you some exotic Brazilian lotion product, (apparently only Brazilians know how to moisturize). The clerks clearly are starving and working only under commission because they yell at you louder than a traffic cop as you walk by. “Hey, hey, YOU ma’am, can I ask you a question? Ma’am. HEY! YOU!!!!” Damn it, I thought. I was doing everything I was supposed to, (1. avoiding all eye contact. 2. checking wrist watch as if running late to meet the state legislature. 3. keeping a 30 feet berth between said hawker and myself), yet she pounced on me anyway with more energy than a methed out midway worker at a county fair. “Can I ask you a question?????” she yelled thinking my Miracle Ear was turned off. What can you do? So I answered her so the whole mall might hear. “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! You may NOT ask me a question. I’m far too busy!!!!” I bellowed and ran off to my important imaginary meeting at the state capitol.

2. Mall Pizza.
Sets up a real vision, eh? Nothing spells y-u-m-m-y better than a pizza made four hours ago then set to rest under the kind of heating lamp my Dad used to use to keep baby hogs warm on the farm. You’d think I’d learn, but I don’t, and I’ve fallen for the “Weird Liquid Cheese and Chips” trap pre-made in a plastic tray many times at the gas station as well as the civic center and 7-11.

3. Shoe Shopping at Pay-less.
Doesn’t the title imply everything? Why pay MORE for shoes made of good quality like say, Birkenstocks, when you can buy something assembled in China and made out of fake leather that will fall apart before the year ends? Nevertheless, I found a cute pair of knock-off Rocket Dogs that were affordable and wanted to buy them. But I had the last size 9, the right shoe of a display pair on the shelf. The saleslady who reminded me of my mom, cheerfully bustled about trying to find the box where its left shoe would be stored, but apparently she never found the size 9’s mate and instead found a size 14 in its place. Well, I discovered two fascinating things about shoes from the Mother-Clerk. 1) According to Mother-Clerk, this is a common practice. People often have mismatched feet, say a size 14 left foot and a size 9 right foot, so they underhandedly will trade the shoes around in the boxes. She said this was common. Really? Who are these people with one furry Mammoth Bigfoot and one shrunken hoof? And 2) Sizes 9, 10 and 11 sell out right away, so that when there are sales, all that is left is sizes 2-8, which begs the question, why don’t manufacturers make MORE sizes of shoes and clothing that women really wear? Of course this will never happen, making fodder for my blood pressure to go up or seize altogether.

4.80’s Retro Pretzel Joint.
Reference #2. Of course there’s no point getting a pretzel that’s dipped in “butter,” (a.k.a., yellow-butter-flavored corn oil) unless you chase it with some of that “Weird Liquid Cheese,” to dunk it in. Again, you think I’d learn hours later cussing on the toilet, but no. I like to make the mistake over and over again into infinity.

5.Orange Julius (Caesar) Stand.
Why the “Julius”? Did Caesar make smoothees from his throne? This, I think, only exists in my mall and 80’s music videos set in malls starring Tiffany. I’m quite sure, no one under the age of, say, 45 would know what one is let alone what’s in them. Outside of Rapid City, the last time I saw one was in Fast Times at Ridgewood High. Or was that Ferris Bueller’s Day Off


Happy Shopping.


B Ridout said...

Denver has stand alone orange julius - but apparently the raw egg is mo longer in there and they don't taste the same. therefore i rest on my memory and haven't sampled. i thought they'd gone the way of the dodo to be honest

A said...

I know what you mean about those dreaded kiosks! At my town's mall there's an entrance I can no longer use because I bought nothing from the hand-cream-straight-from-the-Dead-Sea guy after letting him lotion my hand (and listening to his geology lecture which can be summed up this: did you know, nothing lives in the Dead Sea, thus it's called the Dead Sea and its contents are justifiably ultra valuable)! And I tried not to get sucked in in the first place, because I knew I wasn't going to buy (kick in my hyperactive guilt complex) and kept protesting that he should not waste his time on me. When another customer walked up, I grabbed the chance to scoot, but not quickly enough to miss his dirty look. Now I daren't walk by there ever again!

bass1975 said...

Yup... Those kiosks are like the freakin' carnival. You don't get to ride, but you still get taken.

This is why I haven't been in Rushmore Mall in over two years. When I do, I carry. Just easier not to go.

I like Mall pizza and kinda miss it, but I can always buy Totinos, which is smaller, but pretty much the same.

Ah, mall memories...