It had been another mediocre day of sightings at central Iowa’s most upscale mall on June 11, 2016, the latest in what had been a long line in mall sightings days with minimal smoker girl rewards. On top of that, it was also obscenely hot for early June in the Upper Midwest, in the low 90s with a tropical dew point. I was sweaty and tired as I took to my car after more than two hours of navigating the mall’s exterior scoping out sightings, but still went about driving a few laps around the mall before calling it quits for the day as I typically do. On this day, it led me to one of my most shocking and adorable mall sightings in years.
I hadn’t even completed one lap around the mall in my car when I approached this fairly remote bench on the southeast side of the mall. Sitting there by herself was an uber-wholesome long-haired redhead with pale strawberry hair and the face of an angel, decked out in a casual plaid blouse and a pair of medium blue denim capris. Wouldn’t it be something if she was out smoking, I thought to myself a split second before a cigarette was inserted into her mouth and she lit up. My heart skipped a beat and I immediately decided I had to get a better look at this, pulling into the mall parking lot and approaching the shaded bench where she sat smoking while busy on her phone. As isolated as this bench was my first instinct was that if I wanted to see her smoke I’d have to be right there, but then I noticed there was shrubbery in front of a department store entrance about 10 yards away, albeit in the direct sun. I’m glad I went here first because I was able to sit on the berm and have a direct view of her smoking. She had such a tender look about her that I could tell she was fairly young, but it was difficult to discern from my distance whether she was a teenager or in her early 20s. Either way, the smoking was adorable as she took a steady diet of fairly light drags with small exhales, indicating she was probably a rookie, and she made the cigarette last for a substantial number of drags that I was partaking in. But as she kept smoking, I just had this irresistible urge to approach that bench and get a better look at her, and then pretend to be waiting for someone when I got there. Finally as her cigarette was near its end, I approached….
She spotted me coming and made eye contact just as she was taking a final drag from a cigarette that I could see was a cork filter (this is important information for later). I wasn’t able to spot what happened to the butt but I did get a good look at that face, definitively deducing this girl was still a teenager. I sat on the edge of the bench and got in on some residual smoke aroma, but was also cognizant of not wanting to spook her, unsure whether prolonged silence or my initiating conversation would spook her more. I semiregularly looked her way, her face looking younger and more wholesome every time I took a gander, and noticed she was peeking my way on occasion too. After about five minutes, I figured it would serve me well to break the silence and asked if “she was waiting for someone too”. This surprisingly husky voice responded “yes” and we bantered for about a minute talking about how nice it was at this bench out of the sun with a nice breeze. Obviously I wasn’t “waiting for someone” but figured it would explain my presence there as best as possible, checking my phone on occasion pretending to field nonexistent text messages from the phantom I was acting like I was waiting for.
I kept wanting to talk more now that I had my foot in the door, but calculated that if we started to banter, I’d dig myself into a deeper hole with my phony story….and that she might be more shy when it came to the possibility of another cigarette coming out if I was engaged in conversation with her, not wanting to do something widely reviled in modern society in the presence of a friendly stranger. I also wanted to take a picture of her. I can be pretty stealth with my camera phone but the risk of sneaking a pic in such an isolated setting and so close-up was way too high. So I sat there in awkward silence for another five minutes or so…..and it paid off more handsomely than I could ever have dreamed. I heard rustling around a few feet to my right and looked over to find this redheaded teen cutie inserting a long, thin, and all-white cigarette into her mouth. It was a freaking Virginia Slim 120! Was this girl for real?!?!?!
Sitting to her side was a liability as I was not in a position to watch her drags, but I took subtle glances to my right at key times to watch her young lips wrap around that long and slender cigarette, enjoying basking in the aroma of her freshly exhaled smoke for three incredible drags. I had now decided that my strategy to not engage with her lest she be bashful about lighting up again no longer applied since she in fact had lit up again and my lips were just preparing to ask her if that was a Virginia Slim, with that addendum that “I hadn’t seen one of them for years”, when she was craning her neck and obviously recognizing a familiar vehicle. Damn it! Her ride had arrived. At this point she snuffed out the end of the recently lit cigarette and retrieved her pack, confirming in front of my eyes that it was indeed a Virginia Slim 120, confusing me regarding the status of the cork filter she had smoked 15 minutes earlier.
But she had one more surprise when she turned to me and said “well my ride’s here….good luck to you” or words to that effect in her husky smoker’s voice that didn’t fit the image at all as she stood up and approached the new truck coming to pick her up with a middle aged man almost certain to be her father behind the wheel. Oh how I wished I had engaged earlier now, and watching the youthful way she carried herself as she got into that truck expanded the mystery of this sighting to another level. Even after seeing her upclose and talking to her, I had assumed this girl had to be 18 or 19. But now that I was watching her get picked up by daddy it made me wonder if she was younger yet….as in not even old enough to have a driver’s license! I’ll never know, but whatever the case it was just amazing to take it all in as her father now had a very smelly young passenger who reeked of fresh cigarette smoke stinking up the interior of his new truck, which she apparently is not allowed to smoke in since she snuffed out the VS 120 before getting inside.
I looked around for the cork filter butt after she left but couldn’t locate it. Not sure what she did with it but it wasn’t on the ground near where she sat. I suddenly had a renewed energy unlike anything I’ve felt in quite some time from fetishing malls. It was one of my best mall sightings in years and even though I took some risks that paid off handsomely, a little more adventurousness coupled with slightly better timing on dad’s part could potentially have put this one at the very top of my all-time mall sightings list. It’s rare moments like these that make all those Saturday afternoons walking laps around malls worthwhile.