“The Mall Ball”

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Published: February 8, 2006

Before I go into the surreal experience that is Les Petites Enfant (a.k.a. – The Mall Ball), let me give you some background.

I work at the mall, and I’m the only one at my store who is over 21 and had Saturday night free.  So when our store received complimentary tickets to the Mall Ball, I was the one that got them.  I thought to myself how fun it might be if I were to do an article on this fantastic little thing.  I was wrong.

I was told by an Information Desk Attendant that it was a formal, black-tie affair, but after I had explained to her that there are no tuxedos in my wardrobe, she said that some people would be wearing costumes, and maybe I could go that route. 

So, Saturday night, I pulled out my Catholic priest outfit from the dark recesses of my closet and got dressed for the Ball.  Now, when I say Catholic priest, I mean old-school-missionary/Jesuit priest.  So I had something that looked like a trench-coat, but was, in fact, a priest-garb [ed. note- it’s just a trench-coat], and I had a white-collar-thingy, and I wore all black, just like priests do.  After a wonderful montage of grooming activities akin to the getting-ready-for-prom sequence in “Sixteen Candles” (featuring Molly Ringwald), I was ready to go to the Mall Ball.

There were almost no parking spaces in front of the mall when I arrived.  I would later find out this was because over 3,000 tickets were sold this year.  Like Cinderella, all eyes were on me when I walked through the entrance into the pandemonium. 

Unlike Cinderella, this was not because I was more beautiful than any of the other women; they stared at me because they thought I was going to pump round after round of hollow-point bullets into their helpless, conservative bodies with the gas-powered assault rifle I must have hidden in my striking priest-garb, but after they remembered seeing 6 cops in the mall, their look changed into a “make my day, punk” disregard.

But, fearing their inability to rationally discuss Charity and Giving with me while in I had on my non-Mardi Gras costume, I placed my coat (and the white-collar-thingy) with the nice ladies at the garment check.   

I went up to what appeared to be the information booth/front desk to see if I could maybe talk with someone in charge, so I could get some information from them.  I was directed to a very sweet-looking lady, and I was able to get in about 2.3 questions before I felt like I somehow caused her great despair and loathing because I wasn’t just enjoying myself and standing in the long lines for food. 

I did find out that the Mall ball had been going on for 11 years, that it was for the benefit of Sacred Heart’s Children’s Hospital, and that no, I didn’t offend her at all by wearing a priest outfit to the ball, but it was a Mardi Gras-themed ball.

As I journeyed into the thick of the mall, I was jostled and scooted-by by all these people who cared far more about how they looked than I did (or at least it appeared that way).  I was a little hungry and decided that I should get some food, but all the lines were so long and interwoven between the just-plain-standing-there people that I chose instead to find people to talk to about Charity, and Giving, and It’s For The Children. 

While looking for such people to talk to I overheard a man complaining about not wanting to wait in line for “gook food”, so I asked him what HE thought about Charity, and Giving, and It’s For The Children.  He asked me what for – I explained – and he said “No thank you.” 

Off to a good start! 

After saying, “Hi, I’m (so-and-so) from (so-and-so) would you like to. no?  Okay” a few more times, I went to forage for food, and what I found was amazing. 

Piccadilly. 

This is a Caribbean treat that looks like a desert, but isn’t.  It is made with Caribbean rice, black beans, creamy sour cream, and this potato chip/crepe/crunchy-sweet thing that makes for an amazing, quasi-orgasmic snack.  I was hooked, and throughout the evening would return with puppy-dog eyes to the stand that served these felonious treats, palms sweaty, shifty-eyed, much like an addict embarrassed about his fix.

Even with the Piccadilly I couldn’t stand being alone in this mob of affluence, so I called my editor and asked her to come down there and bask in the philanthropy. 

When she finally showed up [ed. note – finally, right – the editor got ready in 7 MINUTES and driven all the way in from Gulf Breeze], I had devised a plan of quick orientation and escape. 

I showed her around the place, but after a few minutes of watching 40 year olds get their groove on (cut a rug, kick up dust, mash the proverbial potato) to a wonderfully watered-down soft-rock version of Abba’s “Dancing Queen”,  we were both about to throw up. [Ed. note – I think I did throw up, a little, in my mouth.]

So we decided to leave, but not before I shared my vice – Oh! Glorious Piccadilly!

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