mall of no choice
Monday through Friday, between 8:00 to 9:00 PM, you can often find me wandering aimlessly through my neighborhood mall. By car, I can get from my door to Lloyd Center in 3 minutes, and I know the route well, because that’s where I go to decompress after my kids are in bed. This photo to the left is what I look like during the short drive to the mall. I’m like a wound-up addict, desperate for her next fix.
Lloyd Center has a reputation in Portland as being a crap mall, but it’s my home mall, so don’t talk sh*t about it to me. I could probably get through it blind-folded, which would be great because the blindfold would prevent me from having to look upon the horrific carpeting. As malls go, it’s relatively benign; judging from the Hot Topic, GameStop, and Alley Kat, the mall’s target demographic appears to be the disenfranchised tweener. It’s hard to really do that much harm in it as an adult, which makes it perfect for my purposes.
In any event, I don’t really go there to shop. At the end of a frenetic weekday, I want to go someplace where I can zone out and think about absolutely nothing. It can’t be too quiet, or I’ll start thinking about my kids, or God forbid, work. And it’s best if, while I’m zoning out, I’m looking at something entertaining, like the underwear at Frederick’s of Hollywood, or a flat-iron demonstration performed by a man. So Lloyd Center it is.
At Lloyd Center, there are simple joys to be had. I usually start at Nordstrom, which is blissfully empty at 8:00 PM. I like the sunglasses department best. It’s a quiet little spot if you don’t mind trying on sunglasses with huge security devices attached to them. There’s usually only one employee staffing both Sunglasses and the department next door, so you won’t be harrassed by the distracted salesperson, who is focused on making sure that no one’s stealing any Spanx back in Hosiery. I’ve spent so much time in Sunglasses that I feel bad that I’ve returned every pair I’ve ever bought there. They can’t trace all those refunds back to me, though, because I have Tom, who will return stuff for me if I cry hard enough. Refunds are awesome because anyone knows that when you return something, you’re actually making money.
After Nordstrom, I make a beeline for the center of the mall, which is where you will find the Trifecta, otherwise known as the only shoppable stores in the mall, otherwise known as 1) Forever 21; 2) the Gap; and 3) Cinnabon. I’ve enjoyed a lot of contented moments watching the figure skaters twirling around in the rink below while tearing into a pecan Minibon. The Minibon is my concession to health, because what my heart truly wants is a Wetzel Dog.
I am many things, but a person capable of ignoring a hot dog wrapped in buttery pretzel dough is not one of them. Sometimes I want a Wetzel Dog so badly that I have to walk past Wetzel’s Pretzels sideways, with my back to the display case where the Wetzel Dogs are kept. And sometimes even that doesn’t work, because I can still smell them. But if you approach the Trifecta from Nordstrom, you pass Cinnabon before you pass Wetzel’s Pretzels, so it generally works out. Because even I can’t eat a Wetzel Dog after a Minibon.
After my Minibon, sometimes I get a little parched, so I’ll walk a few stores down to Jamba Juice, which is always giving away samples at this hour. They are very chipper folks at Jamba Juice, and I hope to return their kindness one day by actually paying for a drink. I linger over my three Jamba Juice samples while perusing the offerings at Kay Jewelers, which calls itself a jeweler but should really be called “The Locket Store,” because so far as I can tell, it only offers 2000 iterations of the heart-shaped locket. Or I might enjoy my Jamba Juice samples while being massaged by a chair at Brookstone. If I have extra time, I’ll head downstairs to Ellaris, which is a kiosk that sells cellphone covers. There are lots of fun choices, but only two will fit your phone–one is a subtle pink camo and the other inevitably has Hello Kitty on it. Take your pick. It’s one for $15, but you can get both for $20.
After popping in at F21 and the Gap, it’s time for dessert at See’s Candies, where I will put $1.05 on the debit card for a Maple Buttercream, and get two chocolates for free as samples. I don’t understand their business model, but I’m also not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. The free ones usually have nuts in them, but I’ll choke them down while browsing the tweezers at my next and last stop, Trade Secret.
And that fills the hour, and brings me back to Nordstrom. If I’m back at Nordstrom by 8:55, I’m golden. That gives me time to buy Tom a latte at the Nordstrom espresso stand, which the barista starts shutting down at 8:45. It’s always hard to tell who is more annoyed by my order, the barista or me. Here’s my view: I’m sorry you already put the milk away, but maybe you should wait to close down until it’s actually, you know, closing time. That’s my only complaint about Lloyd Center, besides the carpet, and the elevators that smell like cheese. Otherwise, LCTID.