Just what goes into “having fun”? For many people, “fun” involves getting out of the house, seeing other people, having something interesting to look at, and enjoying a choice of activities, all at a reasonable price. Going out to dinner or to the movies may satisfy some of those desires, but often not all. But an attractive alternative does exist in the form of the free-admission public mall. Teenagers, couples on dates, and the modest family can all be observed having a good time at the mall.
Teenagers are drawn to the mall to pass time with pals and to see and be seen by other teens. The guys linger wearing their Nike tennis shoes, graphic T-shirts, name brand jeans, complete with their hat cocked to the side. The girls sashay thru wearing their high-heels shoes, revealing tank tops, with their arms full of bracelets wrapped around shopping bags. Traveling in a gang that resembles a wolf pack, the young thunder cats make the mall their hunting ground. Mall administrators have obviously made a decision to attract all this teenage activity. The kids’ raised voices, loud slang, and occasional shouted obscenities can be heard from as far as half a mall away. They come to “pick up chic,” to “meet guys,” and just to “hang out.”
Couples find fun of another sort at the mall. The young lovers are easy to spot because they walk hand in hand, stopping to sneak a quick kiss after every few steps. They first pause at a jewelry store window so that they can gaze at diamond engagement rings and gold wedding bands. Then, they wander into perfume departments in the large mall stores. Finally, they drift away, their arms wrapped around each other’s waist.
Then there are the Smiths, who visit the mall on Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon for inexpensive recreation. Hearing the music of the trains and video games, the daughter begs to ride in the red cart. Shouting “I’m Starving!” Jr. drags the family towards the food court, where he detects...