Getting Malled

Dearest Rachel –

I suppose it serves me right for trying to play Postmate for Daniel and myself.

You’d probably have compared my little excursion last night with the time we were on our way to choir practice before the service, and I decided to stop in at a place we rarely bothered to visit; but since we were in the area, why not? It should be a quick trip in, get the fish chips they’re so famous for, and head off to church.

The thing was, this was Don’s Dock, a local place exclusively dealing in seafood.

And I was trying to make a quick run there… on Good Friday.

The lines were ridiculous, but I’d committed us, and there really wasn’t any backing out at that point. We barely made it to church on time. Thank heaven for my family trait of trying to be everywhere at least fifteen minutes early, so it didn’t show as bad as all that. But I still remembered that incident, even if there aren’t that many lessons to take away from it.

Because I’ve had decent luck before in trying to get in and out of our local mall, I really didn’t think much of it – other than the fact that some of the places were well and truly in the middle of the mall, and did I seriously think I’d be able to keep everything hot as I walked halfway through the place, let alone walking through the parking lot to return to the car (yes, it’s mild for December, but it’s still December in Chicago)? – and I’d been jonesing for a soft pretzel for some time. I’d not even bothered to get one while I was in Basel, for crying out loud, and I was so much closer to where they came from there, too. But it’s really Daniel who’s always had a love for them, so that wouldn’t have done him any good for me to have had one over there; here, I can bring one (or, as it turned out, two – I’ll get to that part of the story eventually) home for him… eventually.

I’m having a hard time remembering when the last time was that I darkened the doors of the mall. Oh, sure, I’ve been to one or another of its restaurants several times over since the accident – I took Jan out for lunch to Red Robin and the Cheesecake Factory, and Ellen to the local Brazilian steakhouse as a thank you dinner after AnimeIowa – but that isn’t the same as actually shopping there. In fact, each of those establishments are close enough to the entrances that I didn’t even have to walk through the mall to go to them. So I wouldn’t say any of them really count.

For all I can remember, our last visit to the place, right after Christmas last year (so as to take advantage of the after-Christmas sales) may well have been our last time there. And with that in mind, I should have seen this coming. I recall Daniel and I waiting for you to be let into the Bath and Body Works – that line took like thirty minutes for you to get through to get in, as they were only letting so many people into the store. You recall, social distancing and all that; not that the line itself was particularly socially distanced, but whatever. The virus knows the difference, I’m sure. You were quite pleased with having scored some cranberry-scented body wash (as your supply was running low from a few years previously) at, I think it was, 70% off.

You always were the bargain hunter, sweetheart.

I don’t recall if you ever got to using any of it, though, or if I simply let Jan have it as we were going through the house and cleaning everything out. It wasn’t as if I was going to use it, much as I might have liked how you smelled from it.

We also checked out the new It’Sugar candy store; after seeing outlets in Miami and San Antonio, we were thrilled to see one opening here in the suburbs of Chicago, in our backyard. I forget what, if anything, I bought from there.

But we still have this box of sour gummy worms you bought, and there’s just so many there to eat. I should have given more of them to Chompers to enjoy while he was still with us; he did love them so when the ‘candy fairy’ would drop stuff in a parking lot or on the street where we were walking past.

We also checked out the new food court, across from our usual entrance by the Sears anchor (which is finally gone, by the way, and I imagine the only surprise about that is how long it took. As I understand it, that particular location was all but the last outlet of theirs to close, in fact). And as usual, I had to give you and Daniel money so that all three of us could go our separate ways there; we could rarely agree on what we wanted to eat. If it’s any consolation, Daniel and I are still like that, although I will tend to defer to him should he actually have a preference for something. I can usually find an item I can live with at any place he chooses to go to.

But I should have taken that memory into account when I suggested pretzels to Daniel last night. Good grief, it’s the Christmas season, and even with everyone being thrown back into a cautious mood over the threat of Omicron (which, for recently infected and recovered folks like Daniel and I, isn’t even a threat), people still have to shop for the season. And while they’re shopping, they still have to eat.

Everywhere I went, there were lines. And even when I got to the counter, sometimes they didn’t have what I wanted right then and there, and I had to wait for the pretzels to come out of the oven. Well, at least they were hot and fresh for Daniel – for the moment.

But when I got to the Sbarro, where Daniel had asked me to pick up a stromboli, they just didn’t have anything. It wasn’t even as if they were going to make more to accommodate demand, either; it was either order what they had (which wasn’t what he’d asked for) or find an alternative. I called him up, and he basically asked me to get him another pretzel. So, back to the middle of the mall I went, while everything else cooled off.

All in all, the whole trip took well over an hour, and I pretty much had to heat up everything all over again when I got home. At least, between the toaster oven for his pretzels and the microwave for my sandwich, we could get that done in short order. And now, we have cinnamon rolls for breakfast for tomorrow and Christmas Eve. Not exactly the breakfast of champions, but it’s a special treat for the season, regardless. Maybe I should remind you (and me) about that at some point.

Until then, honey, keep an eye out for us, and take care. Love you.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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