Yesterday morning, having the day off and knowing my friend, Shanon, did as well, I sent him a text asking if he'd like to go to the Mall of America. Little did I know that the texting function on his phone wasn't working due to lack of payment. All was not lost as he wound up calling me, anyway, asking if it'd be OK for him to come up next weekend to celebrate my fortieth birthday; his girlfriend's birthday happens to be the day after mine.
They said they'd be more than willing to go to America's Mall. I'm not generally too big on malls, but felt that the trip might almost be worth it if after shopping, we went to IHOP, a restaurant that isn't located in our 100,000-strong city.
We made it up to the mall at around 3pm. One pleasant surprise is that the halls and stores weren't too crowded, something which probably wouldn't be the case today and certainly wouldn't be so three weeks from now.
We first stopped to have a bite to eat at one of the mall's two food courts. They went to Taco Bell while I opted for a Whopper Jr. meal at Burger King. I hadn't had BK in a while and it was much better than I remembered it. Shanon had to make a deposit in the bathroom afterward, but was a bit flustered when all three stalls were occupied. A few minutes later, he was able to get in.
We toyed with the idea of mini-golfing, but decided to place more of a priority on checking the stores out. There is also an amusement park located at the center of the mall which we chose to avoid.
I kept an eye out for mall security officers throughout the day as there is a TV program that recently aired on A&E about MOA's mall cops. I saw a number of them, but none that struck me as familiar from the series.
We started on the second floor where Shanon and his gal found plenty of opportunities in which to spend their hard-earned (they work in a factory) moolah. Shanon stopped at a place called Lids (they sell hats) and bought a couple winter caps. I sat and waited outside the store as he checked out and grew impatient as this went on for more than ten minutes; he was the only one in line. I finally went up and asked what was happening. He said he was getting his check approved. A check? Can you imagine? It was eventually approved, but for the rest of the day, he wisely elected to use his debit card.
Shortly after we hit the 3rd floor, they stopped at Frederick's of Hollywood, a world-famous store that sells sexy lingerie. As they shopped, I stepped to the guardrail and looked at the floors below. A few minutes later, I looked back into the store where his girl had gone in back to try some sexy piece on. It was then that I noticed a woman working the register. She had some type of black boustier on that really lifted her bosoms up. I don't typically like to stare, but have to admit to gawking for a number of minutes.
As time went by, I wondered when my feet would get sore. As a teenager, whenever I went to LaCrosse's Valley View Mall, my feet would get achy near the end of my day there. My favorite stores to shop at back then were Waldenbooks, Musicland, and Kay-Bee (a toy store). So far, they were fine. Perhaps the running stores I'd recently bought would delay its onset.
At one point, we walked past a restaurant called Bubba Gump's Shrimp (it's based on an idea Forrest Gump's friend had about opening a place that sold all kinds of shrimp). At the entrance, in a glass enclosure, was one of the suits Tom Hanks wore for the movie as well as his suitcase and a box of chocolates.
I marveled that I had actually seen the movie at that very mall in the summer of 1994; my mother had taken me and my brothers to the Twin Cities for a mini-vacation.
One of the last stores we hit was on the first floor, Bath & Body Works. Shanon's girlfriend grew excited when she realized there was a store-wide sale going on in which if you bought three of their products, you could get three for free. As she browsed, I noted that the overhead speakers were playing Ray Charles' version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". I wasn't surprised to hear a Christmas song playing in early November at the U.S.'s largest mall, but wasn't about to let the moment pass without saying something. After Shanon and his girl checked out, I said, "Merry Christmas" to the cashier.