Andy and I went to the Fort Henry Mall earlier today. It was the first time I had been there in probably at least six or seven years. In fact, I think the last time I went was on mine and Andy’s first double date with Kristina Garrison and Keaton Lawson back in 2009, so, it had been awhile.
I used to love going to the mall when I was a kid, and in high school, Mallrats became one of my favorite movies. Note, I never wanted to be one of the “cool kids” at the mall. I wanted to be one of those weird mall dwelling kids. Never buying anything, just hanging around. Possibly getting into some kind of most harmless mischief. Of course, we didn’t have a mall in Lee County, so getting to go to the mall was a pretty big deal for me and my friends back in the day, and the Fort Henry Mall was usually the destination of choice.
I also thought about all the times I had been there as a little kid with my mom and dad. That feels like another lifetime. I remember the old late 1980s aesthetic of the Fort Henry Mall included a lot of neon lights and dimly lit store fronts. They redid all of that for a more clean look in the mid 1990s, but stepping out of J.C. Penny’s into the mall proper used to feel like stepping into a neon wonderland of endless possibilities.
There was a pet store, two CD stores, two book stores, a KB Toys, and a store that sold grand pianos, basically every thing a kid with an interest in music needs. They also had a huge arcade called Tilt and a Spencer gifts that had a lot of lava lamps and stuff toward the back that my parents wouldn’t let me look at for some reason (reason being of course, as I now know, there are a lot of dildos in the back of a Spencer’s. No one covers my eyes now, though.) There were also a lot of clothing stores, but I was a kid. I didn’t care about that.
In high school, I do remember feeling disappointed that our mall didn’t have a Hot Topic. Johnson City got a Hot Topic. The mall in Nashville where my dad lived had a Hot Topic. They had Pink Floyd shirts at Hot Topic. And Radiohead. And Smashing Pumpkins. And Nirvana. Basically all the bands that a lanky awkward alternative kid would be into. The “real shit,” as the kids now days say, I think.
Anyway. The Fort Henry Mall holds a lot of memories for me. They’re currently remodeling the theater and they still have one of the CD stores (which now carries a large selection of Vinyl at outrageous prices), the grand piano store, a book store (though I don’t think it’s the same one that used to be there), and the arcade. I didn’t see a K.B. Toys anywhere. Just as well. I’m too old for toys and Andy and I don’t have kids yet.
We did get a couple of frosted sandwich cookies from the Great American Cookie Store, though. They were very good. It was a good day, and I shared it with the woman I love.
The Fort Henry Mall used to be a lot busier, though, than it is now, and parts of it are getting run down. Parts of me are also getting run down.
As Kurt Vonnegut used to say, “So it goes.”