I learned this weekend that the difference between having a car and not having a car means having Cheesecake Factory or not having Cheesecake Factory. My car-owning friend Beth has been inviting me to ride to Jersey with her to go shopping for months now, but something has always stood in the way of me going. This weekend, though, the stars aligned, and she picked me up at 4 p.m. with the promise that she and her friend Sylvan would wear out my Sauconys.
I sort of expected the same kind of shopping experience I used to have in Ohio, when my best friend, Tracey, and I used to spend the day shopping at DEB, Claire’s, and Maurice’s. It was a major thing when a Hot Topic went in, though we were already past our wallet-chain-and-skater-jeans phase by the time that happened. (Okay, so maybe I was the only one of the two of us who went through that phase.)
But no! This mall had a Gucci store and a Louis Vuitton, and instead of shopping for silver holographic Converse flip-flops like Tracey and I used to do, Beth was shopping for a pair of Yves Saint Laurent stilettos. The food court had a Wendy’s, which there are only, like, two of in Manhattan, and everyone there looked like a cast member from “Jersey Shore”. What fun!
When we got hungry later in the evening, Beth mentioned that another mall nearby had a Cheesecake Factory. I was like, “Excuse me?” Because, um, I would’ve pretty much given up every other activity and risked my neck on the snow all of those times before had I known that was part of the deal. Our meal was delicious, of course, and hugely-portioned and super-cheap and everything else that restaurants in Manhattan aren’t, but it felt so wrong, because
everyone in the place looked like they could’ve been from Ohio. The only time I see people who look like they could be from Ohio here is when my friends and I go bowling at Port Authority and have to pass through Times Square, but I had to sit amongst these people and digest food while looking at them. You can imagine how hard that is.
No, I’m kidding, but it was weird. It’s like I can’t bear for things to feel too familiar.