If you’ve never heard of the concept before, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Mall walking is the age old ritual of going to the mall before store hours and walking around in circles, like a horse in a corral, until you feel sufficiently exercised.
I’d never been mall walking before, because I always figured it was something that only old people did to strengthen their frail hips and talk about their grandchildren. But the other day, while faced with the prospect of going back to the gym (and the eyes) I decide to give mall walking a try. Going outside isn’t even an option, since it’s probably colder outside here than it is at the north pole.
I haul Buddha off to the mall, which is probably as good of a thing for him as it is for me. I could tell he’d been feeling restless lately, because he’d started to forgo his thousands of toys for fistfuls of dust cattle (in my house they’re much bigger than bunnies) and a wooden end table, which he turned into a walker (sad, I know).
When we arrive I immediately take note of the old ladies, shuffling around in herds. There are so many of them, you’d think we were at a seniors home or a Matlock convention.
I strap Buddha into his stroller and move toward the sea of grey hair. Normally, joining this many strangers in any activity would be enough to give me hives, but somehow I feel okay about it. And anyway, they seem very friendly. (They are after all, old ladies. I think if you’re beyond 70, you just can’t help but be warm and grandmotherly.)
Immediately a swarm of them surrounds me.
(Old ladies in unison) “What a little darling!”
“Oh, there’s a handsome little man.”
“She’s a beauty!”
They are very sweet, and I immediately forgive the one who thinks Buddha’s a girl since she looks older than the tombs of Egypt and has something strange going on with her eyes. (Cataracts maybe? Poor thing.)
I make fast friends with three particularly nice ladies named Violet, Dorothy, and Myrtle. We walk for an hour talking about everything from the weather to their deceased husbands.
“I miss Frankie. But I’ll tell you one thing - I don’t miss the half eaten fig newtons,” Myrtle tells us in reference to her late husband’s tendency to bite into them and put them back in the container.
This sounds all too familiar as Practical Joe does the same thing with Oreos, sucking out the icing and putting the slimy cookie parts back in the packaging.
“You think that’s bad, Henry used to drive miles in the car with the blinker on, the old bugger. Drove me crazy,” says Violet.
The others nod like they know all too well what she’s talking about, and I realize that women really are all the same - elderly or not.
When I leave my new friends, they make me promise to come back every Monday.
“I’d love to,” I tell them, and I really do mean it. I had the loveliest time mall walking and I highly recommend it if you’re bored (and maybe a little desperate for social interaction.)
Violet, Dorothy, and Myrtle are just the nicest ladies and way more fun than I ever imagined the elderly could be. (I just wished they walked a little faster.)