The shopping mall is a uniquely American experience. Oh, sure, other countries have malls, but they’re really fucked up. I was at a shopping mall in Mexico, for instance, and the mall cops there having fucking Uzis. That’s not cool. Here in America, the mall cops have pepper spray, which is much safer. Well, safer for everyone but the mall cops, because in America it’s the shoppers that are carrying Uzis, and with good reason: The mall cops are carrying pepper spray! I also remember that about a year ago, the terrorist group Boko Haram bombed a mall in Nigeria, which caused me all kinds of confusion. “What? Procol Harum bombed a shopping mall?” (I might need to get my hearing checked.)
The point is, malls are a uniquely American experience. Why? Because I fucking say so, that’s why, and you should listen to me because I have Serious, Bonafide Academic Credentials that make me qualified to make such a statement, and no, you can’t see these credentials because I just printed them and the ink isn’t dry yet. I also have credentials proving that I’m a Malaysian Air pilot but, uhhh, that didn’t work out so well for me. Or anyone else involved, for that matter. My bad 🙁
So as an expert on malls, I am privy to information that you may not have, such as what the word “privy” means.
(Privy is an adjective that means “sharing in the knowledge of”, which makes total sense until you realize that privy is also a noun that means “a toilet located in a small shed outside of the house.” Coincidence? I don’t know, and for some reason the Suicide Prevention Hotline doesn’t want to address the issue, even though I called up to ask them over 40 times. What a bunch of assholes.)
Anyway, a lot of people think that the mall is only good for shopping, and if you’re a teenage boy (or Jared Fogle), for scoring some underage poon-tang. But there are a lot of other fun things you can do at the mall, and now that the statute of limitations has expired, I’m going to tell you about them.
Witness the Circle of Life – When I was in high school, some friends and I used to get a kick out of getting extremely stoned and then going to the mall. I think that we figured that with so many people around, there was a good chance that any outrageous behavior on our part would go unnoticed.
Of course, we must not have been too concerned about that because we invariably made for Noah’s Ark Pet Store, where we had made it a tradition to try to train the African Grey parrot to say “Polly wants a bong hit”. (African Grey’s have a life span that can reach as high as 90 years, so if you’ve been listening to your pet say “Polly wants a bong hit!” for the last three decades, sorry.)
One day, while we were taking a break from warping the minds of birds, one of my friends had an idea. “Hey! Watch this!” he said, and then reached into the goldfish tank, plucked out a goldfish, banged it on the side of the tank (drawing blood), and then flung it into the tank containing piranhas. This produced immediate and impressive results.
Oh sure, it may have been cruel, but in my mind it was less cruel than keeping the goldfish in the proper tank, which seemed to be the marine equivalent of a fucking clown car because there were about a million fish in there. And besides, that fish was just waiting around to see which brace-faced pre-teen would wind up flushing it down the toilet anyway, so you can say that my friend was sparing that goldfish an undignified death. In a way, my friend is the greatest American hero.
Promote Better Hygiene – Occasionally, I would go to the mall with my older brother who would use the opportunity to educate his younger brother about the value of a dollar and how to shop for the best deal. Hahahaha, just kidding! My older brother was an asshole, and would drop a full soda on unsuspecting shoppers from the second floor of the mall.
But before he did this, he enlisted me to run interference in case for some weird reason someone had a problem with his behavior. “If someone comes after me, you go to the top of the escalator and get in his way. Say, uhhh, say that you’re lost and can’t find your mommy or something.”
And of course my brother would soak down some insanely huge guy wearing a t-shirt that read “Kill ‘Em All – Let God Sort It Out”, who would instantly figure out who was responsible for the face full of Dr Pepper he’d just received because my brother would stand there like a moron, pointing and laughing at the guy. The guy would, as expected, sprint for the escalator where I was waiting for him: “He went that way!” I’d say, pointing at the store my brother had just run into, and that was the last I’d see of my brother for a couple of hours. I’d walk around the mall doing whatever I felt like while my brother cowered in fear behind a riding mower in Sears.
So, how does this promote better hygiene? Because it forces people to take a shower, duh.
Prepare for a Career as a Thief – You ever notice the doors in the mall labeled “Exit”, that don’t really look like exits? These doors open into hallways that wind behind the stores in the mall, and that hallway is great for all sorts of illicit activity: Smoking one-hitters, making out with your girlfriend, and making mall inventory a goddamn nightmare for everybody.
This has probably changed, but it used to be that the back door entrance to stores in the mall would be unlocked during business hours, something my brother could have taken advantage of when being pursued by enraged mall patrons had he only a couple more IQ points. And one day my friends and I thought it would be funny to open these doors and enter the store from the back room.
This is when we discovered that no one is in the back room of a store during mall hours, leaving thousands and thousands of dollars of merchandise there for the taking. Since my friends and I weren’t the larcenous sort, we hit upon another plan: We just moved shit to random stores for kicks. And I’m not talking about a few sets of earrings from Claire’s, we moved huge boxes of stuff around for at least 30 minutes, giggling our asses off the entire time.
So Foot Locker would one day find 18 boxes of bras in the back, while Victoria’s Secret would puzzle over the large inventory of baby shoes they’d just acquired. The doors had the store names on them, so we’d be walking around with a bunch of boxes and then we’d spy a store name that spoke to us, we’d dump everything in there and pick up a few more boxes for relocation.
Only once did someone challenge us, and this was as we were walking down the hall, laden with boxes. “Hey! Are you supposed to be back here?”
“You think we carry around all these boxes for kicks?”
“Ok, just checking.”
It’s amazing what you can get away with in an establishment almost entirely staffed by 16 year olds.
Prepare to be Famous: This is simple, yet ingenious, and a great way to watch people flip out for no reason. Go to any place in a mall that has a long line in it. Get in line. After a few minutes, have one of your friends come up to you and say, “Excuse me, are you… Oh my God! It IS you!!! I just want to say that I’m a HUGE fan! Can I have your autograph?”
The key to this is to act embarrassed, sign the autograph quickly, and pretend that you’re trying to go unrecognized. Once your friend leaves, watch everybody and their mother frantically whisper to each other trying to figure out who you are.
The one time I tried this, someone finally came up to me and asked, “Who are you?”
“Oh, I’m nobody. Now, please, I value my privacy.”
In other words, deny being famous in such a way that it convinces everybody that you are an A-lister, or at the very least boning a Kardashian. Get ready to be in the background of a bunch of selfies.
Extra bonus points if you claim to be a member of Procol Harum.