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07) Once, I Was a Mall Rat

In the late 80s, I used to hang out at the Inland Center Mall in San Bernardino with my best friend. We would do anything to get away from our parents. Luckily, her parents would drive us to the mall, drop us off and we would shop, smoke cigarettes, look for cute boys and catch a movie afterwards.

1989 Mall Rat

We bought colored eyeliner and burgundy lipstick at Center Stage. We caressed the sweet smelling leather at Wilson’s Suede and Leather shop, hoping for fringed or zippered jackets with pumped up shoulder pads for Christmas. Sipping on our Orange Julius’s, we inspected the CDs at The Wherehouse, scanned the latest Teen Beat magazine for River Phoenix and Kirk Cameron at Waldenbooks and tried on clothes at Wet Seal and Contempo Casuals.

Taking a break from our mall routine, we would sit in an open area on a bench and smoke cigarettes (you could smoke inside the mall), looking cool with our designer brand bags and blown out hair.

We were 14 and 15, but could pass for 18. We never got carded for cigarettes at 7-Eleven and if we were desperate, we could buy smokes at any vending machine (I hated vending machines since they only came in soft packs, which were instantly mushed in the bottom of my small purse). Cigarette vending machines were found at just about every public place at that time.

If we detected a crop of cute boys, we followed them slowly, talking in British accents about some made-up vacation on a ritzy beach somewhere to peak their interest. We practiced this all the time, pretending as if we were the latest girls of Duran Duran’s, Simon Le Bon and John Taylor.

My best friend had more money to spend and I bought cheap accessories with the hopes that in 6 months to a year, she would be bored of what she bought today and I’d inherit her clothes as hand-me-downs. Since, her wardrobe was ‘way’ cooler than mine, I had no sense of expiring ‘hotness’ when it came to fashion. I trusted her judgment and would wear her clothes until there were holes in them and the bright colors faded to pastels.

She was really boy crazy and the bolder one. I just went along with her, having no real identity of my own. It wasn’t until we got a little older that I would stand up to her and understand how superficial, meaningless and desperate our teen years truly were.

[image from Newspapers.com]

[1987 • Article via Newspapers.com]


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