Okay, since we've apparently drifted into our four year cycle of Year of the Locust with some of the performers taking up the jacket with popped collars of douchebag politicians*, it's time to look at some items in the news. One is that malls are becoming less favored hangout places for teens; only fewer preteens hang out in these places nowadays, according to that reliable liberal source of youth culture, NPR. Instead, these absent teens are shopping on-line. Another crime to lay on Amazon!
Sometimes Mom or Dad would give us a lift out to the mall. When I was in that age range, there were several preteens riding the Veterans Highway bus into sprawling suburban Jefferson Parish to the several malls located there. The best and most distant one, way over in Kenner, even had a Café du Monde for us to get our chicory coffee fix when we needed it. And there was the usual suspects of stores, the Bath and Body Works, The Gap, Spencer's, Victoria's Secret, Starbucks, and others. Malls, naturally, had movies, if you could afford it. And, of course, there were guys! This was especially important for those who attended single-sex schools. Parents figured out what the reason was, but that was O.K. with them.
What did we do? Mostly hang out; but go into stores periodically for light shopping and to allay the anxieties of mall cops that we're committing loitering! Yes, there was the coffee, and the ice-cream, and other diet sabotages.
Which gets to the real reason for hanging out at malls: we went there to meet guys! This setting was reasonably safe, and open for casual meetings. Sometimes kids would pair off; and sort-of-date while in the mall. This was a setting for doing this before dating was officially permitted, and boys not having to deal with the uncomfortable moment and possible questions by her parents. Besides, none were old enough to drive a car!
Light intimate moments were hard to come by; however, slipping into a clothing store for adults and kissing amid the clothing racks could be done. Most often the ladies were too engrossed by shopping to care. (Imagine Tee Angel necking with a guy in Coldwater Creek. Sordid, no?)
Naturally, the session would be limited by curfews and the last running of the busses or pickups by sympathetic parents. Most dads do not have a sense of humor at having to pick up a tardy daughter at the far end of Jeff Parish! Lakeside and Clearview were far enough out in the boondocks. But my Dad came through when needed!
*You know damned well whom I'm alluding to.