Banana Republic was followed by The Gap, a store in a midlife crisis. My image of Gap is that of a no-frills store, or at least one in which frills are on backorder. On entering, I saw that it had abandoned its plain-jane flourescent lighting in favor of thumping music and large plasma screen TVs. Again, I tried on a pair of khaki shorts. The changing booths didn't lock, and a woman knocked on the door and started to open the door. I yelled "OCCUPIED" and forced it shut before she could see anything. Why was I the embarrassed one in that situation?
I ambled into Nordstrom; my greenhorn status as a shopper means I know very little about the relative prices of stores. I sat down to examine some shorts, saw the $80 price tag, and leapt up.
At this point, I swallowed my pride and ducked into Abercrombie and Fitch, America's oldest retail rave. The place reeked of cologne: it was a radical shift from the walkways of the mall, where Auntie Anne rules with a benevolent cinnamon fist. I walked along the walls of naked men strewn out in black-and-white, but again I was disappointed by the selection.
I helped myself to some more of my pride and stopped at Hollister, Abercrombie's beach-bum friend with benefits. Here, finally, was the pair of shorts I was looking for. I bought them (on sale, too!) and hustled back out to the safety of the mall. The bag the clerk gave me was decorated with a shirtless man on each side. I ran for the parking lot. When I got home, I showed my mom. "Hmm!" she said.