By J. Ron Eaker, M.D.

Listen up moms…this could be your child!

I recently spent way too much time at a mall.  For me, this is like being forced to watch a Gossip Girl marathon, sort of in between sadistic torture and cultural enlightenment.  I was in Nashville, Tennessee for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Country Music Marathon (I’ve got to get them to shorten that name!) and I was flying solo and had time to kill before carb loading.  My wife elected to stay at home and avoid a six hour car ride with someone who smelled like a gym locker full of sweaty socks. The restaurant was in the mall (which says something about how I eat when I am by myself) but I was compelled by my need for cheap pasta. 

I am not a shopper, so for me the purpose of a mall is to keep 15-year-olds off the streets.  What I discovered is that the American mall is a microcosm of American society, the good and the bad. 

My first stop was the “You Are Here” guide. I was in search of a bookstore but to my surprise, none was to be found.  But what I did find was eight…yes, I said eight, ice cream/candy/sugar establishments, 14 restaurants, and two shiatsu massage parlors.  This very well may represent the various reasons for the decline and fall of the American society.  Forget ObamaCare, the real reason we’ll fail as a nation is that we’ll drown in a sea of high fructose corn syrup.  We live in a society where it is harder to get a copy of Moby Dick than a cup full of Dippin Dots.  It’s ironic that a Cinnabon is next door to a Victoria Secrets as a few trips to glazed bun heaven and you’ll never be able to get your buns in a lace thong. 

I felt like I contracted diabetes from just walking through the mall.  What does this say to the hoards of prepubescents flittering through the mall like sunfish?  For lunch I can have a burger topped with M&Ms, a cherry vanilla milkshake, deep fried fries, an ice mocha latte, and still have room for dessert.  They don’t understand that their entire meal was a dessert.  The mall food court could be used as a recruiting station for the cardiac intensive care unit.  The Corn Dog Emporium should make you fill out a living will with every Stroke on a Stick that they sell.

This being Nashville, where every waitress is a Taylor Swift wannabe, there was even a band performing on a small stage in the center of the mall.  The folks actually were pretty good for a mall band, but I can see where it would be rough to get psyched to play for three folks waiting for a table in the adjoining restaurant, a mall cop on a Segway, two senior citizens who needed a rest before they hooked back up their oxygen, and a 12-year-old groupie who just got a new piercing at Claire’s.  I had been in similar situations where I had given a talk to a crowd of three postmenopausal women with terminal hot flashes, so I empathized with the band.

And do we really need a kiosk selling magical salt from the Dead Sea to clean your pores?  Isn’t that why Dove was invented?  There was also a small booth to record your own demo CD or online dating video.  I have a feeling that anyone who makes a dating video in a mall booth may not be who you want to bring home to mom. 

One of the craziest thing I saw was a kiosk that had a five minute teeth whitening machine that you did on the spot.  You stuck this mouthpiece in then they blasted you with some kind of ultraviolet light and presto, you looked like Vanessa Veneer.  Watching people do this looked like some kind of alien breathing test except you got to keep your lungs.  You could have had an entire makeover by going from kiosk to kiosk.  One curled your hair, one whitened your teeth, one did your make up, one did your nails, one massaged your back, and they all took your money.  If you ever needed to go into the FBI witness protection program, just go to the mall and you can come out a totally different person.

I was thrilled when it was time for my reservation as I had already overdosed on silly, so I ventured into the pasta palace and requested a seat without a mall view.  For you purists, I know pasta is not the healthiest meal choice, so shoot me.  But given the option of funnel cakes and fried Milky Ways, I think I did okay!

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be mall rats.

This article appears in the May 2019 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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