Posted by Joe Cianciotto
If I’m being completely honest, in my late teens/early twenties, on occasion I did bring a Gap bag from home with me to the mall so the ladies wouldn’t realize I was just pimpin’ and not shopping.
Before you judge me too harshly, there are a few things you need to know. First the biggest mall in Long Island, Roosevelt Field happens to be in the heart of the town I grew up in since I was 12 years old. Also for some reason all of the head bangers in town seemed to live like three blocks from the place. And being that they were fantastic people, extremely rebellious and fun to hang out with I by default ended up there quite a bit. From there it just became a weekly habit to hang out at the mall, especially once my inner guido started to come out.
The second thing is that when I was a teenager you could actually smoke cigarettes in the mall. For that matter we also had smoking section in our high school as well…God life was good. Anyway, it’s been twenty years since I quit smoking but being that I started when I was thirteen years old and the things only cost $1.25 a pack, all you had to do was skip lunch for a day at school and you could afford a week’s worth of Marlboro Lights. Anyone who did grow up as a derelict in their teens also knows that the mall was a great refuge to kick back, smoke some butts and just people watch.
Which brings me to the third thing, which is the Roosevelt Field Mall was a bona-fide social media mecca for teenagers growing up in Strong Island in the late eighties/early nineties. From one end was this crazy little section called Le-Petit Mall that had a hairdresser that was literally built to look like a cave, Time-Out which happened to be one of the biggest arcades around and this crazy store called World Imports that sold Joe Camel and Spuds Mckenzie t-shirts so that in case you didn’t drink or smoke and was fourteen, the now illegal merchandising to children at this place, would get you over the hump.
But more than anything the mall was filled to the gills with clothing stores. There was Sid’s Pants, Just Shirts, Structure, Chess King, Oak Tree, as well as the standard bearers, The Gap, Banana Republic, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, The Limited, French Connection and Aeropostale. All of these places catered to young adults and to be even more specific, young women. So like a bunch of young gazelle’s at a watering hole, the place was awash in eager young men looking to broaden their horizons and make a love connection. Sure this was mostly the domain of guidos, but even if you didn’t think you were a guido, being from Long Island compared to the rest of the country you absolutely were one.
And as the early teen years gave way to the late teen years, suddenly everyone had driver’s licenses, which meant that by the time you were a senior in high school there were exponentially more girls to meet from all corners of Nassau County chilling at Roosevelt Field Mall. It also meant you had to up your game. Sure it was okay if you were a middle schooler (which back then we called junior high school) smoking butts, woofing down oversized pretzels and genuinely looking like a lost soul in front of Time-Out Arcade. But as you got older you had to up your game. And even though we lived at the place nearly daily, you could not under any circumstance look like you did, if you had any hope of chatting a pretty lady up and getting her phone number.
You needed purpose.
And nothing says purpose like a half-full Gap bag under your arm as you strolled past The Limited. Now I wish I could take credit for the idea of keeping a t-shirt in a bag with me at all times, but it was this guy Dino that folded clothes at Chess King who taught me this trick. Sure he was like thirty years old and on his ninth year at Nassau Community College but the man knew his mall and his beeper ringed like it was Tinder.
So yes, I used this technique and I gotta’ say shockingly it worked better than I thought it would. Let me rephrase that. When I say “worked” I mean that no, it did not make me any more desirable to the opposite sex, however it did make me look a lot less like a guy who goes to the mall almost daily with no genuine purpose in his life. And in that it was a win.
So, if I’m being completely honest, in my late teens/early twenties, on occasion I did bring a Gap bag from home with me to the mall so the ladies wouldn’t realize I was just pimpin’ and not shopping.
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