I do not remember the mall being quite so loud. Or so colorful. Or so big.
Twelve Oaks Mall popped up at 12 Mile and Novi Roads back in 1977, when I was ten years-old. We had Hudson’s then. There was a movie theater near Sears. And a food court.
There were stores where a girl could buy ballet flats or a sparkly scarf. Lord & Taylor was a good spot for winter coats and dresses. You could spend an entire teenage afternoon wandering from one end to the other. If you were lucky, you’d head home with a swishy dress, a pair of jeans and a new lip gloss.
I’ve been back over the years, but I haven’t “done the mall” in decades. Last week Miriam declared that she truly had nothing to wear, down to the bare essentials. She made it clear that she did not want to shop with her impatient brothers; I wouldn’t dare buy her anything without express approval.
So I cleared the schedule, made arrangements for the boys to get to and from various after-school activities, and set out for Twelve Oaks with my girl.
We went from store to store, examining patterned skirts and tank tops, winter boots and skinny jeans. Every so often we found something that passed muster, was reasonably priced, and fit.
“I’m pretty picky, aren’t I?” she asked, debating the suitability of various v-neck tops.
“Yes,” I told her. I paused and thought it over. “Let’s just say you’re very choosy. Selective.”
She smiled. Selective didn’t sound quite so bad. But picky she is. And selective. And choosy. Even her grandmother, a woman who loves to shop, came home exhausted after an afternoon at the mall with Miriam. One skirt. One top. One headband. And lunch. That’s all they bought in four hours.
Still, the mall can be a wondrous place. It’s the place where a mom can find out which girls in the seventh grade are wearing makeup to bar and bat mitzvah parties. Which ones like glitter and which ones overdo the mascara.
It’s the place where a mom can share a plate of zucchini fries with her daughter while sketching plans for a small and fabulous birthday party to cap off their own upcoming bat mitzvah weekend.
If there is Prince and Duran Duran blaring through the speakers; if there are chunky sweaters and stirrup pants on the racks; if there are huge hoop earrings and tiny purses near the cash register, it’s also the place where a mom can remember what it feels like to be 12 years-old, in love with who you might be if you can manage to assemble just the right outfit for school tomorrow.
A headband wrapped in creamy lace. Army green pants with buttons at the ankles. A flouncy, flowered skirt. Tops in purple and gray, ivory and black. Fluffy pajama pants adorned with tiny white bunnies. Chocolate-covered strawberries.
A quiet ride home. Jazz on the radio.
Maybe the mall’s not so bad after all.