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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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« Midwesterners were here! | Main | Gasp. Wheeze. Choke. »
Saturday
Nov032007

Here's a mall adventure for you.

So on Tuesday my friend asked me to accompany her and her children to the mall, and I thought, but I should be writing and then I thought, but if one does not experience life, how can one write about it? So I agreed to go, only to gather material. Also they have an H&M.

So off we went, and the first thing my friend Abby tells me is that she's almost completely out of gas, that in fact we would be lucky to make it to the gas station. Make it there we do, and while her car is being filled I ask, "So, how empty was it? Was the light on?" and she says, "For two days." And that right there would be the difference between me and Abby, or maybe between me and most people in the world. If the gas in the car dips below a quarter of a tank I'm twitching. If it's on empty I'm afraid to sit in it, because maybe I'll tip the gas tank a little and the gas will, I don't know, slosh over to the other side and then the car can't get to it? I'm not clear on how cars work. But there's Abby, mentally stable Abby, cheerfully toting around her children, the tank filled only with residue and memories. I'm just glad she told me this when we got to the gas station because I don't think I would have lived those few blocks.

Abby's a new friend of mine, and she's one of those people who when you meet them your insides are screaming BFF! BFF! And you're trying to act all cool and collected and blasé about when you might set up a playdate, but secretly you just want to have a date with only her and ditch the kids and run away together; is that weird? She's got a great son who is Henry's age, and the two of them are so compatible, two gentle souls who want only to build Legos and then build some more Legos. Which is such a refreshing departure from his other friends, who set fires and mug the disabled.

Tank full, we made it to the mall, with only minimal screaming on her baby's part. I tried to chat up the two-year-old, but she just glared at me, because I wasn’t there with a child, and what good was I, anyway? Abby and the girls dropped me off at H&M. I needed a fall coat, and by the way I needed MANY OTHER THINGS AS WELL. I barely heard them leave, what with the pile of clothing I had gathered on top of myself as I rolled around in the aisles. I haven't shopped without Henry in too long.

We were on a tight schedule, so I made my purchases—my delicious, delicious purchases—and a few minutes before we had to leave, I headed over to Old Navy, where Abby and children were to be found. Only I had never been to this mall and had no idea where Old Navy was. And this mall featured several tears in the fabric of space and time, so you would walk over to Section A and then suddenly you were on a fishing boat and everyone was talking in Old Norse. I began to walk faster and faster, and as I did my embarrassing walk-run-walk, walk-run-walk, my thinking went thisaway:

1. Abby's probably waiting for me, and now she's going to walk over to H&M. We'll miss each other.

2. She'll be late to pick up her son, and it will be all my fault.

3. She's going to hate me so much.

4. Good going, Alice. You just had to buy your stupid cheap clothes that will disintegrate within a month.

5. I am a terrible person. Who deserves to be abandoned in the mall.

6. I will die here.

While walk-run-walking I accosted a saleswoman to ask for directions. I attempted a casual air when I shrieked EXCUSEMEWHEREISOLDNAVY? She backed away—apparently I didn’t pull it off—and pointed down one of the many wings of the mall, the one that hadn't been visible before because it had traveled to an alternate dimension. Sure enough, there was Old Navy, and there was Abby, shopping away, oblivious to the insane little drama churning in my head. Until now, that is, because she reads my blog. Crap.

Reader Comments (45)

"5. I am a terrible person. Who deserves to be abandoned in the mall."

Oh, man. This just gave me a flashback to an A.S. Byatt story where THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENS. A woman gets separated from her tour group at a megamall in some Asian city, can't speak the language, goes slightly nuts, gets mugged and dishevelled (causing the security guards to decide she's a crazy bag lady), and as the story ends, seems to be hunkering down to live in the mall forever. IT'S NOT FUNNY. That story gives me the creeps just thinking about it.

"Has anyone else noticed that all Ukrainians in America have identical, delicious personalities: smart, caustic, and mildly supercilious towards everyone and everything they see? I'm suspecting it's the combined effect of Soviet-era cynicism and fatalism, plus the radioactive soil in which they grow their vegetables. All I know is, they're so cool and smartassy that I'm wanting to move to Ukraine..."

This awesomeness also radiates from Russian Jewish chicks. I get lightheaded in their presence.
November 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTammy
I fear I may be even worse with the gas thing. If the needle gets to about the half way point between half tank and quarter tank, I become absolutely convinced I cannot drive, say, three miles to the vet's office. On the other hand, this leads to me getting a lot of walking exercize.

November 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJessie Mae
Too perfect. And it's not weird, this wanting to runaway with a mom thing, unless of course you did actually eschew hearth and home - that might be awkward.
November 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Milton
I think it is very important that one should be open about one's blog to new friends.

Sort of a "Here is me and all of me and this is as crazy as it gets, which is pretty crazy." And then they either say yes or no, and if it's yes, you know you're home free.

BTW, I had a space time fabric thingy with my kyes last week. I think I wrote about it, too. It's very...unsettling.
November 3, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterjozet
Number 6 stuck quite a chord with me. I usually go to the mall with images of those girls from Clueless running through my mind, you know, "we are young, we are free..." and then three hours later I can be found in the fetal position behind the Helio stand - having purchased nothing. I'm no match for those preteen Daddy's Girl t-shirt wearing jailbaits. Bah.
November 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPriya
This comment track took a few very interesting curves. Wow. For me the girl crushes happen with women who are old enough to be my mother, who have kids who are my age or a little younger. I'm all trying to be cool, but inside I'm shrieking, "APPROVE OF ME! TELL ME I'M DOING A GOOD JOB! BE MY MOMMY!"

Kind of sad, huh?
November 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRae
We have one of those cars that has a thing that tells you how many miles to empty. It will say "LOW FUEL LEVEL" until you press this button to find out exactly how low after it gets below 30 miles.

This is my husband's favorite thing to test, besides me.

The day we got in and cranked it up and it was all "0 (zero!!!) miles to empty" - OMG - I hyperventialted for a mile. He did this endzone dance when we got to gas station while I died a little.
November 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
Currently interviewing new BFFs in the Ann Arbor Michigan area. I can offer a mall with the space/time continuum rips, an H&M AND one of those pretzel joints where they flip pretzels into cinnamon and sugar.

I also drive until the light comes on and beeps continually.



November 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRee
I do the same thing with the gas tank, but I have also stupidly run out of gas more than once. This year.

That's kind of embarrassing to admit, actually.I need a new BFF. Anyone in New England and feeling lonely? This is my hawt personal ad.
November 4, 2007 | Unregistered Commentersuperblondgirl
What a great post! I thought I was the only one who had those crazy thoughts when out in public!! and with new friends! Thanks for the insight into your wonderfully, layered brain. :)
November 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSarah
So unfair that you can shop at H&M. I can only buy those GREAT looks and deals on trips.
November 4, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbitsy parker
Has anyone else noticed that all Ukrainians in America have identical, delicious personalities: smart, caustic, and mildly supercilious towards everyone and everything they see? I'm suspecting it's the combined effect of Soviet-era cynicism and fatalism, plus the radioactive soil in which they grow their vegetables. All I know is, they're so cool and smartassy that I'm wanting to move to Ukraine..."

"This awesomeness also radiates from Russian Jewish chicks. I get lightheaded in their presence."

Too true!
November 5, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterloulou3
Tears! You made me laugh so hard there are tears. Ahhh. Thanks. Needed that.
November 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJessica
Don't you talk about H&M that way! The clothes are neither stupid nor cheap -- well, they are cheap, in a not-expensive way, but they don't fall apart as quickly as the price would suggest. At this second I am wearing an H&M t-shirt that is at least 5 years old, and except for some grey-ing of the black it's still in great shape, and yesterday I was wearing my 11-year-old bought-in-London-before-H&M-came-to-America velour drawstring pants that just WILL NOT DIE. Ok, I was wearing them to paint, but they're 11 years old, and they don't have holes. I loooove H&M, even if they think I'm a size larger than Old Navy says I am.
November 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSummer
I do the exact same thing and then I worry about being too pushy or overly aggressive with the new friend thing. Then I try to be all cool, which I suck at, and it hopefully turns out all right in the end.

And falling belong a quarter of tank is NOT. O. K.
November 5, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterandrea_frets
I do the exact same thing and then I worry about being too pushy or overly aggressive with the new friend thing. Then I try to be all cool, which I suck at, and it hopefully turns out all right in the end.

And falling below a quarter of tank is NOT. O. K.
November 5, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterandrea_frets
You are such a good writer, Bradley.
November 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Brown
I just read your post to my husband. To which he responded, "I want to go to her mall."

Ah, the allure of fishing boats and Old Norse.
November 6, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterfalwyn
My absolute favorite line from this post has to be:

"And this mall featured several tears in the fabric of space and time, so you would walk over to Section A and then suddenly you were on a fishing boat and everyone was talking in Old Norse."

So glad I found you through BlogHerads.
November 7, 2007 | Unregistered Commentercardiogirl
I do love that thing, that BFF! BFF! thing, but recently I keep feeling it when reading blogs, which just makes me sad because (a) I will never meet computer people and (b) I feel like I should be making BFFs in real life, not computer life, and the fact that I am all wanting to be friends with computer people seems as sad as, well, standing in front of Old Navy and using the mall wireless to shop the Old Navy website instead.
November 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

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