I wasn’t in the best of moods on St. Patrick’s Day 2007. Only days earlier, Iowa’s new Governor had passed a $1 a pack cigarette tax hike. I nonetheless made a pilgrimage to the mall on that Saturday, which happened to be March 17, suspecting the tax hike might impact sightings immediately. Little did I know the opposite would be true and I’d have one of my best day of mall sightings of all-time.
I was moving in a circular pattern around the circumference of the mall that cloudy early spring morning, navigating in my established pattern of weaving indoors and outdoors for hours in a pattern that would make me as inconspicuous as possible. The first half hour to 45 minutes of the afternoon was relatively unproductive, but I hit pay dirt as I approached the mall’s main entrance just as three young girls, all about 15, got out of a car that was apparently driven by a parent. Two of the three girls were a little overweight for my taste, but were nonetheless cute. They hovered in front of the mall just as smokers usually do. I would not have expected they would be smokers, but it became quickly evident that they were up to something very mischievous as they lingered in front of the entryway.
It was hard to observe without getting caught, but I nonetheless spied an unlit all-white between the fingers of the one girl, a cute but chubby dirty blond. She appeared to have been fishing for a lighter in her pocket as the cutest and skinniest girl of the three, an Asian girl without traditional ethnic Asian features, became impatient, saying “hurry!” to the girl holding the cigarette. Eventually, she found her lighter and sparked up the cigarette. For the next several minutes, I tried to remain as invisible as possible while sneaking peeks at these girls, who were not even yet 16, publicly sharing a cigarette in front of the mall and passing it around puff by puff with none of the three girls dominating the cigarette and all indulging equally with similar vaguely rookie stylings. Very cute and something I wish I could see again all these years later when I’d be able to appreciate it more.