When I was but a wee one, going to the mall was its own event. There was preparation. Planning. Strategy. Maps of our desired routes. The emotional stages of going to the mall in the '90s took me on a roller of anticipation, anxiety, and heightened anger over the long lines at the food court. We usually made our big mall trips on Saturdays or Sundays, because trying to pull it off on a school day was simply out of the question. I distinctly remember being mentally exhausted when it was all over. You didn't just leave the mall and go about your day, like nothing had happened; the mall had happened. You had to go home and recover. Take a nap. Recharge your batteries, for your own physical and emotional well-being.
In the '90s, malls certainly knew how to cater to families with little kids. If you were to ever suffer from Shiny Object Syndrome, it would happen at the mall. I'm talking major sensory overload. Too much to look at. Too much to touch. KB Toys called your name, and the smell emanating from Sbarro was absolutely intoxicating.
As an adult, I avoid the mall like the plague, because it's entirely too people-y for me. But as a '90s kid, the story was much different.
The Day-Before Anxiety
You're laying in bed, minding your business, innocently playing your Game Boy. Then your mom walks in and whispers in your ear those six words that can send any '90s kid's heart a-racin': "We're going to the mall tomorrow."
The Panic-Induced, Pre-Mall Outfit Selection
You have an early morning departure, which means you must peruse your wardrobe the night prior. You've got a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear; eventually, though, settle on your homemade tie-dyed shirt, stirrup pants, and a fanny pack.
Early Morning Breakfast
You need sustained energy, so you decide to watch your refined sugar intake and stick with Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts, SunnyD, and a pack of Gushers for the car ride. It's all about moderation.
Tension In The Minivan
You and your sister start to argue because she wants to listen to Alanis Morissette but you want the Backstreet Boys. Your dad yells that if you don't stop, he's going to turn this car around and no one gets Dunkaroos after dinner tonight. Look, everyone is just emotional right now, okay?
Making A Stealthy Entrance
You planned to enter by the Hot Topic but foot traffic will be too heavy; so you opt for the entrance by Mrs. Fields. A warm chocolate chip cookie would be so bomb right now. Temptation: Level 10.
Strategic Shopping (On Your Terms)
Your mom created a color-coded map detailing the exact route you would take. You almost went nuclear when you realized she left out Contempo Casuals. She relented, and you'll indeed get to shop for crop tops like you specifically requested.
Waning Patience At The Food Court
The Sbarro line is moving far too slowly, Burger King is out of ketchup, and you're going to lose it if you don't get sustenance ASAP. A cherry pop slushie would be nice.
Continued Shopping On Renewed Energy
With bellies full, nothing can get in the way of the rest of your mall trip — not the bratty girl at the Build-A-Bear Workshop, not the chick at Claire's who refused to pierce your ears without a parent present, and not even the woman at Bath and Body Works who spilled Cucumber Melon shower gel all over your Starter jacket.
Trying To Remember Where You Parked
It's actually dark outside. The 'rents can't remember where they parked the minivan. You stubbornly refuse to walk anymore and sit on the sidewalk while they look. Your mother calls you ungrateful, and you silently put a curse on her that her teased hair will always fall flat.
Exhaustion Setting In At Home
Mom instructs you to cut the tags off all your new clothes and put them in the hamper to be washed, but you pass out wearing your new jelly shoes before you get to any of it.
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