So apparently my picture is up at the mall. I knew awhile ago because I got a ton of grief about it at work over the past month. As in, "Hey Kelly, I saw you shopping at the mall today." And when I responded that, no, I wasn't at the mall, whoever was taunting me at the moment would break into a huge grin and say something really impressive like, "YES YOU WERE!"
Because of this, I have been afraid to go anywhere within a 100-mile radius of the mall. I can't even drive past it. Which is a very confusing feeling. Because ever since my pre-pubescent self grasped the concept of retail therapy, I've felt a friendly tug from any mall, drawing me in to see it's wares.
Not anymore. Now it's like we're adversaries. Somewhere within those walls stands a life-size image of myself holding a keyboard with a clear shot of my left armpit.
So when Jerry suggested yesterday that we get his favorite Chinese food, which just happens to be in the mall food court, I nearly crammed an entire throw pillow into his mouth just to keep him from completing the sentence.
"No. Absolutely not."
"C'mon. Aren't you the least bit curious? Everyone tells me it looks great. Just think about it."
"Okay ... mmm ... no."
"We can look at clothes and you can give me ideas for your birthday."
"Girly store clothes?"
"And I'll buy you a yogurt at TCBY."
So, with the promise of endless girly store clothes browsing and a smooth frozen treat, Jerry coerced me to overcome my fear.
At first, it was okay. We used an unpopular entrance and had a direct destination: Jerry's diced chicken and shrimp combo with fried rice from Wong's Wok. It was a straight shot up the escalators and a left turn to the food court. Deep breaths. I can do this.
Then it happened.
"I see you."
"Over there, between The Gap and American Eagle."
Then, my typical knee-jerk reaction set in. When I'm in an uncomfortable situation, I laugh. I laugh like a hyena on speed. Which is really unfortunate at funerals.
Jerry dragged me into the line for Chinese so at least I'd be productive while I was trying to breathe again. As we ate, I felt it looming over my shoulder.
"We have to take your picture with it for your mom," Jerry said, in between bites.
"Oh God. No. No, I don't think I can. Seriously."
"Who cares? It'll take two seconds. Do you really need to worry about what any of these people think? ... Especially that crazy lady over there in the stained sweatpants?"
"Yeah, I guess you're right."
So, after we ate and I plowed through my vanilla yogurt with Reeces, we headed toward it. It. With the intention of taking my picture with my picture.
But I couldn't do it. I just grabbed Jerry's arm and forced him to keep walking as my hyena laugh noisily escaped from my throat again.
"I can't do it. I just can't. Lets do a lap and maybe we can get it on the way back."
So we walked. And by the time we came back around, I was ready. I felt emboldened. I could stand next to myself and give a big middle finger to the other mall patrons if need be.
And as I stood there, feeling utterly horrified as Jerry took his sweet-ass time lining up multiple shots, I watched as group after group walked past, turned around, looked at me, looked at the image of me and put two-and-two together. My favorite was a bunch of skater-looking tween boys who said intensely, "Hey, look, that's her," as if they had come to a long-awaited life-changing conclusion. Like "E=mc2!" By God! It's HER! It's HERRRRRR!
Then I couldn't get out of there fast enough. The Gap has never felt like more of a safe haven. Even with all of its hideous, horrendous, horrible, hellish (and any other h-sounding negative adjectives) spring line. It almost made me want to wrap up in its atrocious knee-length faded sweatshirts with poufed short sleeves and somehow figure out a way to jam my hands in the weird front pocket stitched in at crotch level. Instead, I regained my composure in the men's section where Jerry found a winter hat for $2.79. Score.
So, all in all, it was one of the most eventful trips to the mall ever. And I didn't even get anything. Well, other than the yogurt. And that was delicious enough to count.
So, here it is. The photo that almost made me break out into hives.