A few days ago I absent-mindedly agreed to accompany my girlfriend to the local mall, where she planned to purchase her 200th pair of shoes, glow-in-the-dark bras, or whatever the hell it is women think they need to keep themselves chugging along. I had not been in several years, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. But the moment we walked through the entrance, I knew I’d made a monumental mistake. My first thought was “I sure as shit hope no one I know sees me here,” followed by “I really would feel much better after punching the faces of these horrid people, or at least breaking their arms.” I was at once thrust into a strange urban zoo filled with many peculiar breeds: emos, wankstas, hipsters, real life Barbie dolls, and crowds of senile senior citizens drooling all over themselves as they walked in incomplete circles, eyes glazed, looking more dead than alive. “Ah,” I thought, “These must be the elusive mall walkers I’ve heard so much about.” Around this time my girlfriend decided to take a detour into Victoria’s Secret, and as I had no desire to try on the latest style of autumn panties (or hold her purse while she did), we agreed to part ways. And so I found myself in the expansive food court, peering out at the massive tidal wave of listless human cattle grazing on carbonated sugar water and faux Chinese food: fat eating fat. Suddenly queasy and depressed, I took a seat at a mustard-stained table beside a booth selling what looked like deep-fried meatballs on a stick. At the back of the line slouched a twenty-something man wearing an over-sized basketball jersey, a matching bandana, an assortment of gold chains, and pants that sagged down to his knees. 50 Cent’s unintelligible rap blared from the cellphone clipped to his belt while, in fluent Ebonics, he explained to his friend, why, exactly, “Bitches be bitches.” After listening intently for a moment, I realized that this individual, stripped of his bastardized language and clownish attire, had virtually no identity. Removed from the mall and its self-conscious consumer culture, yanked from the ideologies forced down his throat by the media, dropped under the spotlight for all to see, he was, at the end of it all, nothing more than a scared, confused little boy attempting to convince others and himself that he was anything but. Looking around a bit more, I saw this phenomenon reflected in every person standing beneath every neon sign encouraging this same thing. Again, the queasiness. I bee-lined for the parking lot. My girlfriend could get a taxi.