Christmas is coming, and I'm dreading it. Don't get me wrong; I love the lights and the trees and the old cartoon specials, but I hate giving gifts. I'm not cheap; I'm just an uninspired gift giver. And worst of all, my search for the perfect gift will invariably lead me to that ninth circle of suburban hell: the dreaded shopping mall.
Why do I hate malls so much? Pull up a chair.
First of all, I've noticed a growing trend of malls not having a Starbucks. Are you kidding me? How on earth am I supposed to function without Starbucks? Why don't they just take out all the bathrooms, too? Oh, wait, it looks like they did. How is it even legal for malls to be as big as they are, and still only have one or two public restrooms, which are always the filthiest restrooms I've ever seen?
Just once, I'd like to walk past a kiosk without someone screaming in my face, "Ma'am! Who's your wireless provider?" I've even had these jackasses step out in front of me to block my path. Who is teaching them this technique? Does it ever work? Is there really someone out there who switched to AT&T because they were worn down by some aggressive 20-year-old harassing them in a mall?
Variety is supposed to be the benefit of a shopping mall, but it can get really irritating when you're in and out of twenty different stores, never knowing whether the next one will be bright or dark, hot or cold, or if you've accidentally wandered into that one store that sells $90 t-shirts.
And can we get the smells under control, please? I can't walk past Abercrombie & Fitch without gagging, Yankee Candle seems to be actively pumping neurotoxins into the atmosphere, and Bath & Body Works may as well just send their employees out to slap people in the face with Fruit Roll-Ups. Then you have Cinnabon and Auntie Anne's hypnotizing me with their cinnamon magic until I'm grinding my teeth like a meth addict.
Also, do we really need eight different stores that sell sneakers? I'm sorry, who is buying all these sneakers? There should just be one store that sells Chuck Taylors, Vans, and whatever giant-ass high tops the kids are wearing these days. Air Jordans, probably. Or Reebok Pumps. Are those still a thing?
Then there are the rides that eat your quarters. They always have five or six rides, and there is only one that is actually in service. Your best bet is to hang back and let other parents make the mistake of feeding the wrong machines. Take note until they find the one functional for you. Maybe if you let your kid ride the fire truck, you'll be able to weasel out of taking him to the dreaded playspace, which is clearly some mad scientist's experiment to see if polio can spontaneously be reborn.
Every year, I tell myself that this is the holiday season I'll do all my shopping online, but it never is. Please wish me luck; I'm going to need it.
This piece orignally appeared on In the Powder Room