This post also appears on Fairlady’s site.
Malls have popped up everywhere – like small white mushrooms; pushing their conical heads out of the dark soil after a brief, wet summer’s rain.
Mushrooms, that is, not malls. Malls are generally rectangular shaped and don’t literally grow after the rain.
To bring this back to my main point, I can understand why shopping centres are so popular, logically. It just makes sense to cram everything together in one multi-layered Tetris building. They’re bustling, mumbling, artificially lit confines filled with things to buy, buy, buy. All the shops; all the things, juxtaposed with movies, Nandos, arcades, McDonalds. Malls are the people equivalent of lamps for moths, or cans of Coke and sticky mouths for bees on the pool’s side in summer.
My trip to the mall on Saturday actually began a week ago when my mother gave me, as an early birthday present, money to buy some pretty clothes. I suppose if we’re going to take it back, we could say my trip to the mall started 23 years ago when I was born and would, 23 (very almost 24) years later, have a birthday party that I’m not allowed to go naked to (and it’s my birthday party, you’d think I could go naked to my own birthday party if I wanted to). Don’t quote me on this, but I actually think it’s illegal to be naked in public – which is kind of weird if you really think about it. There should be some kind of reimbursement from the government for all of this compulsory clothing wearing we’re forced to do. On that note, I suppose my trip to mall was destined to happen from the time man started to work in groups and hit rocks together to make tools.
Well, regardless of how it started, the fact of the matter is that by 1pm on Saturday I was meandering around Cavendish mall in Cape Town looking for a birthday outfit. Something classy, but not too classy, flattering and well made but not ridiculously expensive. This was made difficult by several things:
- I was alone (I don’t take my own advice; need another person).
- I’m wary of asking shop attendants for their opinion (their whole reason for existence is to sell stuff, regardless of how atrocious it looks).
- I am not fond of clothes shopping (lightning, gothic music, the horror, the horror!).
There. I said it! It’s time to stop living a lie.
I don’t like clothes shopping.
In fact, I kind of hate it.
Like, I’m sure there are guys out there that don’t really like… watching rugby. Or wrestling with other guys. It’s a cliché that all women really, really love shopping. Of course I like looking attractive and wearing nice clothes, and shoes totally get a thumbs up (high five to whoever thought of that). I just don’t like looking for them and trying them on and going through the whole emotional roller coaster that is a trip to Edgars.
It’s different for boys. I say this not because I believe in gender stereotypes, but because it’s true. My brother’s don’t even have to be there when we get them clothes – and that includes pants. I mean come on, how unfair is that? Guys can pee standing up and buying pants is as emotionally exhausting for them as buying tomatoes.
Shopping is always a surprise attack on my self-esteem. I should be better prepared for the plummeting dip in self-approval, considering the sheer quantity of times it has happened in the past (i.e. every time) but I never really am.
That’s why I need another person when I go shopping; otherwise I spend hours of my life trying on a gazillion clothes and end up leaving the mall frustrated with no new clothes, no self-esteem and four hours less of my life. It’s usually at this point, when my good nature is at an all time low, that the stupid parking machine won’t take my R10 note and then, eventually, when it deigns to let me pay, traffic springs up out of nowhere – over 9594,7567,3646,272 zombie cars and annoying mindless zombie pedestrians trying to leave the mall as well, ALL teeth-gnashingly, hair-pull-outingly, frustratingly, BLOCKING MY WAY.
And when did tweens take over the mall? They’ve really staked the concrete jungle as their turf; they’re EVERYWHERE. And I’ve got to say, the more of them I see the more I realise that no other age owns the word ‘awkward’ quite so well. I remember hanging out in Menlyn in Pretoria at that ghastly age; the days when parents were chauffeurs, arcades were awesome, Spice Girl shoes were in style, and braces caused much angst.
Now I have no braces (thank god), malls are a last resort (the movies live in the mall) and not the only place to hang, and I bought myself a little black dress to wear to my birthday party – all by myself. I guess things are moving forward!