Mall chic

For nearly 20 years now we've been knocking about San Francisco's Ghiradelli Square, Boston's Quincy Market, Pittsburgh's Station Square and many -- wow, so many -- similar converted wharves and factories. And, oh, the memories. We remember our first naked brick wall, our first macram'e plant holder [and] our first quiche.We remember our porridge spurtle (for stirring same). We remember the first time we saw a pickup truck parked in the middle of a restaurant and used as a salad bar, and we remember our first alfalfa sprout. We remember our straw mats and our straw baskets and our cute little wooden watermelon with the slice taken out of it. We remember the day we first bought chocolate-chip cookies hot from the rack at the back of the store, and the day we realized that if we never had another it was O.K.

We remember thinking that the novelty was bound to wear off, that one day the shopping had to stop. And, of course, we were wrong because why else will 120 new shops, restaurants and cafes be moving into South Street Seaport this year? Not to mention the hundreds, probably even thousands we don't know about all over the country.

Nonetheless we are jaded. Our palates long for new sensations and our living rooms for new accessories. So we put to those 120 shopkeepers, and all the shopkeepers in all the malls in all this malled-over country, the challenge of Diaghilev put to Cocteau. ``Etonnez-moi.'' Astonish us.

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