I was alone with my two-month-old son last week. My wonderful sister offered to watch my two older kids while my husband was out of town.
Along with her two, she would have four under four. I assumed she either acquired a recent head injury; needed some heavy-handed womb-shushing; or had a box of shiraz on hand. Maybe two out of three?
So I hightailed it out of this small town to a city.
I ate delicious ethnic food, not from a pub. I slept in a bed that wasn’t mine. I hit up Starbucks and Target like a pumpkin-spiced soccer mom on a Saturday.
And I lost myself in the sweet maze of lies called a mall.
We live a good two hours from any decent mall, so I came ready: stroller, deodorant and water bottle. I tried on all of the things. Took change room selfies and sent them out for opinion of the masses (aka my sister). I talked myself out of many pairs of shoes. I didn’t follow my ‘list’ at all. I cornered twenty-year-olds in stores I shouldn’t be shopping in and asked them where their coat was from.
Malls make me sweat, their bathroom lights make me look like the scarecrow from Wizard of Oz. Being in a mall makes my hair frizz out and no matter what I’m wearing, I immediately want to buy a whole new outfit and put it on in the bathroom stall.
Yet, there is this Bermuda Triangle in each mall where all your simple strolling and retail therapy comes to a screech: the food court. [Or a ‘food mall’ if you are my Dad, I’m not convinced he understands the overarching purpose of a mall]
On the surface, it’s a smelly, neon hall devoted to providing a range of culinary experiences at a fast food level. It sounds simple:
As I was sitting and singing and crowd watching I noticed the behaviour of people approaching the food court. No matter the age, gender, lifestyle – everyone does the same thing.
Really, if you are dating someone and want to know your possible compatibility- take them to a food court, while hungry. Our primal instincts come out. We treat the choice of where we will eat like the contestant giving their final answer on who wants to be a millionaire. We have one shot. We are hungry and a wrong choice means an unpalatable plate of slop or a semi-edible version of vegetables. We also feel pressured to demonstrate to others our relationship with food, and our stomach and brain instantly are on opposite sides of the table.
At the entrance of the food court I witnessed couples arguing and hurling accusations; girls’ volleyball teams scattering away in huffs; parents interrogating their kids on what they were hungry for; pairs of women talking themselves into salads they didn’t really want and teenage boys auto-piloting to the taco bell stall.
In a world we’ve built up to overflow with variety and choices and instant gratification, we can sure crumble like the bottom of the waffle cone over making the right choice.
But what do I know? I’m the messy haired mom, fidgeting with her nursing bra and wiping humus off her face while serenading her infant. I’m in my own world just a loving on this baby and panini like I stole them, and I don’t even care.