It's disgusting outside. It's the beginning of Spring, and not only is it dark and raining, but there's mud. You can't escape the mud because it's everywhere. On your Lugs or Tims and on the tattered bottoms of your jeans and right outside every car door there's squishy brown earth. Let's go to the mall.

You furtively enter, shielding your eyes from the bright lights that hover above the dueling Asian restaurants. You're huddled together with a couple buds and other soaked refugees you don't even know who have also just come out of the rain. You and your friends, and a Goth teen and an old cougar named Charlene remove your hoods and part ways into the new paradise. This old routine has become increasingly familiar as you enter one of the most gut wrenching places on earth.

Once you regain vision from the shock of artificial light, you realize you are floating in a sea of people without a life raft. But these are no ordinary people; these are the last people you ever want to be submerged in; the punk teenagers, the depressing old people, the Goths, the nerds, the jocks, the teenaged mothers, and the prostitots. The food court brings all walks of life together, people that you don't know personally, but know their personality.

Walling the people in are a mix of fast food chains that make their food too quickly and bulky to be considered food. The first "restaurant" that catches your eye is the unnaturally bright yellow and red of the golden arches chain. In front of this McDonald's is a mutated clash of generations, a depressing combination of teen mothers and elderly couples.
Then you have Sbarro, the authentic Italian cuisine that draws authentic Italians who wear ten pounds of bling and diamond studded sunglasses and look like they want to either smash your face or buy you a drink. If you have brought a girl, this group of bronzed twenty something's are now puckering at her. Then you have the unfortunate souls, usually young families with tired looking parents, who have no choice but to sit between the dueling Asian restaurants. The poor parents must dodge a constant barrage of sesame pork skewers with polite "no thank you's."

You and your friends exchange some troubled looks. You realize there is absolutely no reason for you to be here right now. There are no holidays and no birthdays in spring and the only thing you can buy are new clothes that will probably be covered in mud within two minutes of wearing them. You all know there's nowhere else to go so you keep walking, all silently praying you'll cross paths with a group of girls your age who are in the same boat.

For some reason, girls your age have all found something incredibly more entertaining to do at four in the afternoon on a Saturday than go to the mall. On your trek, avoid the packs of mall wanderers, or they will depress the shit out of you. The first group is the pack of young girls who wear makeup and short skirts and look like a cross between your little cousin and a Brat Doll. The second group is a handful of boys who look at you with a mixture of pity and fear that they will still be walking around the mall when they're your age.

Every now and then on your journey you will cross a kiosk with a smoking hot cashier in her mid twenties. She may entice you to buy slippers that look like dogs, or a tiny beanbag pillow, or maybe even a zebra stripe cell phone cover, but it will be to no avail. You can flirt with her, and no doubt she will flirt back, but she has a boyfriend. Beware this temptress, because there's a good chance she's dating one of the ?roid addicts at Sbarro's.

Because it's shitty outside, and people don't like to exercise in shitty weather, a couple speed walk by you and almost make you fall over. You are amazed at the audacity of this middle-aged couple who fear nothing, not even when they weave through the group of baggy clothed gangsta's. Decked out in bright green and old-person-blue sweat suits, the middle-aged, speed walking couple are heroes to us all. They are the only ones in this mall who absolutely don't care what people think or say about them. Unlike the elderly people, the middle-aged speed walkers are aware of how unhip they are, but "who gives a hoot?" Their breath smells like Folgers and their outfits are from a 1995 sale at JC Penny, but little things like that don't matter when you're putting your kids through college.

You and your friends have not entered a single Gap, Best Buy, or Spencer's Gifts, and now you approach the used video game store. It is a fact that most people play video games, but not all of these people want to be seen in a video game store. The Dungeons and Dragons players of yesteryear are now the chronic video game players of today. D and D'ers have passed down their legacy of greasy ponytails and pasty skin to a new generation of gamers. But you are not a junkie like these poor folks. You just play video games recreationally. You may have tried it but you never inhaled. Whatever. You and your friends walk into the store head down and walk out after you get your fix, eyes darting wildly around the mall to make sure nobody's watching you.

When you and your friends realize you're not going to reach some higher point of enlightenment today at the mall, you bid adieu to the rest of the shoppers by avoiding eye contact and staring straight ahead until you reach the exit. Once you're in your car, you can return to your little niche in the world. At the end of the day, all those gangsta's, meatheads, gamers, prostitots, and speed walkers can return to their corner of the world. But you and they must never forget that you all had a common enemy that day and were all breathing the same air in the belly of the beast of the mall.