Sunday, June 20, 2010

No Wonder He Wanted To Fly Like An Eagle

It's Father's Day. There's a great story there. I'm not going to share it... mostly because every time I share it with anyone, they tell me there needs to be a movie on Lifetime about it, so I'm still considering writing the script and sending it off to those folks at Lifetime.

However, I will tell you the story of my trip to Metro North Mall the other day. It was the second time I'd been there in about a week, but the first time I just drove by--I was trying to find the closest GNC (which, it turns out, is not the one at Metro North Mall... the actual closest one I could hit with a baseball if I was standing in my front yard and threw it with some small fraction of Superman's strength. I mean, like a fifth of the fraction of his strength I'd need to hit Metro North Mall with that baseball standing in the same spot in my yard... and that's not my point and it's been way too long since that open-parenthesis, eh?), and I thought it was there. The place had to have been closed--I mean, yeah, I knew the place wasn't the hoppin' spot it was in the late 80s and early 90s, but I'd expected more than the ten vehicles or so I saw parked around the place. So I didn't go in.

A few days ago, I returned and actually went in. As it turned out, I parked at the other end of the mall from where I needed to be. This worked out well, because my shocked reaction was to walk the length of the place on both floors.

Ghost. Town.

Or, you know: Ghost. Mall.

I can't remember the last time I'd been in there. I mean, I remember the last time I'd been in there, but I didn't remember what year it was. I mean, I remembered what year it was at the time I was in there last, but I cannot now remember what year it was I was last in there.

Because blogging makes my writing English good.

Anyway, the last time I'd been there, I was there for the "Go For The Grand" finals in the northland. We had some kids on our team competing, and we'd gone to watch the finals there. I remember thinking the place was kinda dead and it was kinda said... but this last time I was there? Very dead. Very sad.

You see, back in the day, there was nothing in or near Liberty. In that sentence, "back in the day" means circa August 1985 to May 1990 or so. And "nothing" means "very little to see or do that was of interest to your average college student".

Metro North Mall was where I most often went to see movies while in college. It's where Gregg Elliott and I acted out the poster for White Knights, and where Jhoneric Campbell and Jennifer Sherburne crashed an burned trying to act out the poster for Jewel of the Nile about three seconds after Gregg and I did our thing.

Jhoneric and I wrote "Toxic Mall Rats", the award winning musical (in our minds) after a visit to Metro North Mall--and we used that mall as the template for the mall in the musical. To my knowledge, no dead body was ever found in one of the fountains, and no heavy metal songstress had a concert there, and the mall never exploded, but I still feel we captured the essence of that place.

Walking around that place the other day I kept remembering what used to be in all those empty spots. There has to be no more than 20 stores there now, and I really think it's closer to 12 than 20.

The first horrible blow was seeing the total lack of Mr. Bulky's. How are you gonna have a mall without a Mr. Bulky's?

No music stores (do they exist any more?), no place to eat (unless you count Topsy's... I think those places are like the cockroaches of businesses... they can survive anywhere... Metcalf South Mall had one the last time I was in there, and it had very little else), no book store, and only one of the four "big department store" spots is occupied.

It was horrible. It really made me kinda sick to my stomach, but the emotional one, not the "O to the M to the G, I am so gonna hurl" one.

And here's the spot where I ran into that guy I knew in high school. And here is the spot where they had the Santa Train or whatever every year (and maybe they still do, but just decided not to put it out for June), and here's the spot where Spencer Gifts used to be, and here's the spot where Duff's used to be (and where I first worked as a cook)... and on and on.

I get it, I get it. We need to have the passage of time so we'll get older and realize what idiots we were in our youth or five years ago or last week or whatever applies. But man, this whole "slippin' in the future thing" can suck.

Yeah, I know, "death of another mall," big deal. It's just... wow. Death of a mall I went to often during college. I think it's just a sort of an affront to the part of me that wants to be able to say, "This happened once. We did this." Of course, those things can still be said. Just without, you know, visual aids.

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