Have you ever visited the Queens Mall at 5pm on a Friday? If you want to feel miles and miles from the preppy Upper East Side, or far removed from banker-ville downtown, I suggest a trek on the R train to the Woodhaven stop. If, however, you are easily scared by crowds of teenage hooligans, or volumes of polyester make your skin itch on sight, I don't recommend the venture.
Sent by my office deeper into the unknown land that is Queens, I needed a subway map to figure out how exactly I was to get from the train to the mystical urban mall. Crossing Queens Boulevard was taking my life in my hands, as was pushing through the angry line of hungry pedestrians waiting outside of the corner McDonald's to reach the mall entrance. (Had I known I was going to be commissioned to Elmhurst this afternoon I might not have gone with my flaming red Burberry rain coat and oversize Prada bag, and opted instead for a less ostentatious khaki trench and low key canvas tote. But you live and learn.) Once inside the labyrinth, I felt as I did the very first time my mom let me go to the Roosevelt Field Mall alone- terrified, lost, and utterly bewildered. I made my way down the first corridor with trepidation, first spotting a G+G (which I thought had gone out of business after the movie Clueless had faded into the archives), then a Claire's (home to $5 jewelery and ever popular with the teeny bopper generation I was once a part of), and next a Wild Pair (again, I had no idea the store was still in existence).
Just as I was getting my bearings and had stopped staring at the pink pleather shoes on display in the window I passed, a gaggle of no less than 15 teens dressed in micro-sized skirts and tops that might be illegal in some areas of the county nearly knocked me down as they paraded by. I took refuge in the first store front I could find, which happened to be a Victoria's Secret. This might have been an acceptable place to hide out for a few, but unfortunately the 14 year old renegades had already infiltrated the lingerie shop. Awkward looking, tangibly uncomfortable boys that looked years younger than their female companions fidgeted anxiously while their girlfriends held up underwear with pictures of dogs and 'PINK' slogans splashed across the butt. Their pimply faces and sweaty cheeks made me feel dirty, so I had to leave just as quickly as I had darted in.
About ready to give up on my competitive shopping trip and go back to work admitting defeat, I saw an illuminated image of a woman frolicking in a field dressed in telltale khaki and pink. The sight of the linen blend blazer beckoned to me like a preppy hand rescuing me from the bowels of the urban jungle. Never had I been so happy to see a Banana Republic before. I headed straight for the sanctuary, hoping it wouldn't disappear like a taunting desert mirage before I reached safety. I floated in and was instantly soothed by the trouser-donning salesman, who complimented my bag. Retail is not for the faint of heart.