I don't love the mall we have in our town. We could blame it on the economic downfall of the past decade, but to be honest, it's badly designed, there are a lot of empty stores, and most people drive to Sacramento to do their shopping in the bigger, better malls. It had a good run in its first 10 years with stores like Wet Seal, Rave, Afterthoughts, Kay Bee Toys, Kinny Shoes Miller's Outpost, and B. Dalton. NONE of those stores still reside in the mall. Now it is a sad shell of memories, cell phone stores, Zumies, Lids, Aeropostale, and Bath & Body Works.
I have an almost teenager. How the hell did that happen? I mean, technically I know how it happened, but how did she get to be almost 13? I say she's 7, tops. It's heartbreaking. She's not a little girl anymore and that is now visually apparent to both her dad and me. That is how I ended up at the mall feeling like the mommiest-mom in the world.
When your almost 13 year old daughter needs a new bathing suit RIGHT NOW because her dad says the one she has no longer makes her look like she's only 12 and she has a class field trip to the lake the next day, well you don't have time to run to Sacramento or Roseville after work. After visiting 3 stores in our town, I finally broke down and drove my full size truck to the mall and tried to squeeze into their tiny parking spots that were designed in 1989 for the future smart cars (good looking ahead in a town where the farming and truck owner community is still thriving). It's already a bad trip and we haven't even gotten out of the truck yet. Upon arrival a lady yelled at me for parking in two spots by accident (slightly over the line). Actually, that's not true. I stole her spot (I had the right of way) and she stopped behind me and waited for me to emerge from my truck. Here we go, going to have a shouting match at a place I hate. But, she was kind, and told me that I was taking two spots and could I move over. Of course. I felt horrible for thinking the worst of another person. Apologizing that my truck is hard to park in this tiny spot, she understood and waited patiently for me to move. I got the look from my daughter. Shut it kid, let's get this over with.
So, here I am, in my denim capris, comfy old navy tee, giant purse to hold all my mom-stuff, mom pony-tail, comfy sandals, walking through the mall of my youth, yet not. It's 105 degrees outside and I have been running around like mad all day. I'm not looking or feeling my best. I am irritated that she can no longer wear her bathing suit we bought in the Spring because it reaffirms that she's growing up and that it's been a REALLY long time since I could wear a bikini. I am not feeling trendy, or young, or giddy about who may be at the mall that I know. Nope, I feel like the a mom, a wallet and a voice of reason.
First store: Pac Sun. We walk in and the man-uh I mean kid working asked "Can I help you, ma'am?" No you did not. No.you.did.not. Smile Rachel, smile and accept the help. Customer service is waning and he offered help. 20 years ago he'd have been flirting with me and my bestie. I ask him where their swimwear is and he points me to a rack with bikinis. I use the term lightly because it was strings and some lycra. HAHAHA, no f'ing way. Before I can say anything he says "I know, I know. I have a niece her age and I hate the suits they have for young girls." You have redeemed yourself for the ma'am young man. Pac Sun and it's tiny clothes just got some points in my book.
Store 2: Zumies. No one asks if they can help us. That is ok. The music is so loud I couldn't hear them if they had. Maybe they had and I didn't hear and now they think I'm a total stuck up mom. Sorry Zumies, I can't hear you! Bathing suits are on the back wall. Slightly better. Bikinis again, but that's ok. They are more modest. I get excited because they are cute. Daughter says NO. Hate ruffles. NO. Great. Next store.
Store 3: J.C. Penney's. One of the last original mall stores. Is everything on clearance here? I like clearance. We go to the bathing suits. They literally have giant old lady bathing suits and toddler sizes. That is it. I look at the old lady-suits and think "huh, this would hide the kid-damage to my body." I suddenly get it. I understand the mom suits. Horrified, I drop it and we leave the store. When the lady-suits are appealing, abort mission, abort mission! Clearance or no, get me away from the lady-suits!
Store 4: Rue 21. Is this store a f'ing joke? Do people actually dress this way? They have bathing suits. Some modest. With ruffles. Nope. I want to check "A Children's Place" because maybe they'll have something in her size, which is a 12 because she's tiny. I get the teenager "you've got to be kidding me" look. Ok, moving on. Can we be done yet?"
Store 5: Styles for Less. The less grungy cousin of Rue 21. Nope, nothing she can wear, we are out.
Store 6. My least favorite place ever. I'd rather be in Walmart in Olivehurst on the first of the month when the crack heads are emerging. Please, not Ross! She says "Lets try Ross, since it's right there." Oh Lord no. Please anything but Ross. But, I've come this far, and I want her to find a suit, so we go in. It looks like a wasted battlefield. It smells like cheese and sweat. There are kids running and screaming. Nothing is on the shelves, it's all on the floor. There is a security guard who looks like he's seen a lot and maybe been winged a few times from friendly fire. This is the only store in the mall with a security guard. So telling about Ross. It looks like the day before the end of the world and everyone has come to Ross for provision and there was a struggle.
There are 10 bathing suits on the rack. 9 lady-suits and one, shining gem of modesty and youth. She grabs it, but behold! The hanger says it's not her size! Devastation! But wait! It's on the wrong hanger! It is her size! (This is where heavenly light shines on us in this wasteland and Angels sing!). She says she wants to try on the top. You know what's worse than shopping at Ross? Ross dressing rooms. I follow her over and she enters, and a man outside the dressing room area eyes her appraisingly as I wait outside for her. Really dude? Really? I am right freaking here and I will kill you, creeper. I have the ability and the means to do so. I stare him down and he looks down at his feet. I decide to join her outside her dressing room door for her own safety and so I don't strangle or shoot what may be a creeper or dad waiting for his own child to come out of the dressing rooms. She opens the door and it's a perfect, modest, fit. Thank GOD! Let's get the heck out of this hellhole.
.As we walk back through the mall, I am regaling her of stores that once were when I was her age. Before cell phones, before facebook, before snapchat, before MP3's when you could buy tapes and CD's at Camelot Music (which is now FYE that sells really random fandom stuff). When you met up at the mall with your friends, stayed for hours, called for a ride on a payphone with quarters or your calling card. Where you'd see other kids your age, not this desolation. It depressed me to the point I wanted to go grab my friends, throw on a baby tee, bongo jean shorts, sun-in my hair, strap on some keds and strut the mall (I wonder how many steps on a fit-bit that would be). Fortunately because there weren't many other kids there, she wasn't embarrassed to be seen with me, the wallet.
Yep, I got old. Don't know exactly when that happened, but I totally blame my almost teenager and my pre-teen with their skinny jeans and their hopeful youth. Jerks.