Now that we’re all quarantined and not able to enjoy being out in public, it seems like a good time to wax nostalgic about the spaces we used to collectively enjoy, especially the ones that are no longer with us.
These days, any trip to a mall is a miserable experience for me. It’s the same cheap shit in every store but marked up to absurd prices for the quality, and there’s too many people, and they’re all shrines to capitalism. But before I was a professional curmudgeon, I was a mallrat in my teenage days, and there was no better place to spend a Saturday than Crossroads Mall. My friends and I would hang out all day, pester store employees, and get into very mild mischief.
Here’s my 5 favorite places from Crossroads Mall:
This was obviously the top place to be as a teenager in the 1990’s at a mall. Most of the friends I met at Crossroads were other miscreants that would hang out and play Tekken for hours. Once we got to know the staff, who were mostly early 20’s dirtbag nerds like us, they’d hook us up with free tokens or even crack the machines open and put on the Free Play Mode. Sometimes on the weekends, we’d hang out at those dudes apartments and smoke weed with them, which in retrospect is really weird and creepy, but they needed friends and we needed those golden coins to play games.
The Hobby Shop
Right next to the arcade was The Hobby Shop, which was a massive, two-story store that sold gaming supplies, model airplanes, and all sorts of geeky stuff. I barely spent money there except occasionally buying booster packs of Magic: The Gathering cards, but it was always a trip to browse through. They had a huge library of RPG books back when D&D was still a fairly fringe affair, along with a lot of Warhammer 40K figures, and all the paints you needed to decorate them. A lot of these games are pretty mainstream stuff now, but back then, The Hobby Shop was like walking into a different world.
As a bunch of dirtbag sk8r boys, we were always looking for places to smoke on the sly so security didn’t catch us and call our parents or whatever. Often, the more brazen spots were best, but depending on which mall cop was working, we’d have to get creative and look for weird spots outside the building to share a Marlboro Red. For a while, the McDonalds and A&W had smoking sections, which is insane to think about now, but nobody would ever bother us there. Speaking of which…
The Food Court
Usually, I’d spend whatever money I had saved from my weekly lunch money to buy a bean burrito from Taco Mayo. That’s where I learned the trick that I use to this day that you can ask for lettuce, tomato, and onions and there’s no upcharge for all that extra food. But if I had a few extra bucks, I’d hit up the Orange Julius, or perhaps S’Barro’s for a slice of pizza that I regretted ordering every time.
There was one apex cool spot at Crossroads Mall, and no, it wasn’t Hot Topic, Gadzooks, or even the pet store. It was Eastern Treasures. This place had it all, from ninja throwing stars to dragon swords. They even had those light-up framed animated pictures things of stuff like waterfalls or Jesus crying. There was even a while when I remember seeing t-shirts about cockfighting displayed proudly in the window display.
I’ve got dozens more memories about this mall that I could talk about, including a very fucked up one involving the Dillard’s 3rd floor bathroom, but those are tales for another time. What are your remembrances of this ancient monument to capitalism?