Becky’s Heroic Journey

The other day I saw this meme and it made me laugh, so I reposted it to my Facebook page.

Many of my friends saw it and laughed with me, proudly confessing they had at least one exactly like it, but shaking their cyber fist at the idea it was time to throw it away. I agree. Those cookie sheets are perfectly fine. They simply have developed a rich patina of life experience, much like myself.

But—because I am a complicated woman—I pulled out my muffin tins recently and decided enough was enough. Time to get new ones.

I don’t remember buying any of them, so it’s possible I should donate their bodies to science or something, but the Teflon one adds bits of Teflon to everything I bake.

The silicone one is constantly sticky and refuses to behave.

But look at that grandmother of them all! I typically like my muffins to be golden when they’re done, not rusty.

After a little late-night peeking at the internet, I decided to try ceramic muffin tins.

On Wednesday, I trekked to the mall. Oops. I mean the retail resort. (I swear to God, that’s what they call it. *insert huge eye roll here*)

I hadn’t been there in longer than I could remember, but it was all coming back to me … the smell of cinnamon buns … mothers bending over strollers consoling babies or chasing toddlers … lonely entrepreneurs at kiosks hawking their wares to wary grandmothers.

(One chatty guy wanted to dab some sort of super-polymer around my eyes, “for the puffies.” When I balked, saying, “What if I have some sort of reaction while I’m walking around?” He shook his head in vehement protest. “I do this seven years. Only happen once.” Needless to say, I’m still a victim of the puffies.)

One thing I hadn’t remembered was this sign. Perhaps if I had been in front of the cosmetics store I would have gotten it right away. But I wasn’t and I didn’t.

This retail resort is a lovely place, don’t get me wrong, and it’s where I can relive my childhood by getting an Orange Julius. That’s one of those scent memories that sends me right back to 1968 when I took my first trip to the Cinderella City Mall in Denver. It must have been a big deal to my parents as well because we took a day-long excursion there from Colorado Springs, which back then—when gas was a whopping 34c per gallon—was a pretty big deal. AND my dad stuck a crowbar in his wallet and bought us those delicious orange sugar bombs. It was love at first sight for seven-year-old Becky.

Cinderella City was the largest shopping center under one roof in the world. In the world, people! In Denver! Three levels, 250 stores, a 600-seat theater, a fountain with a 35-foot-high spray. It also boasted a handcrafted double-decker Italian carousel that stood 28 feet tall that was lit by 2,000 bulbs and had 28 hand painted panels. It held 70 people and cost $1 to ride.

But by 1990 or so, it was set to be demolished.

Indoor malls made way for “retail resorts” and “outdoor shopping experiences.”

So a few days ago, again I found myself at the largest mall, er, retail resort in Colorado.

I walked past every single one of their 185 stores, dipping into each one that held the promise of kitchen items. Did I find muffin tins? No, I did not. Despite the fact there were many overpriced home stores, none held what I was seeking. I asked a guy at one of the stores if ceramic muffin tins were even a thing. Was I to forge my own kiln? Dig my own earthen minerals? He assured me my earthen minerals could remain safely underground. He simply had sold out. But had no idea when more would arrive.

Defeated and demoralized, I slogged my way back through the retail resort dream-killer, heading back to the Julius stand for another sixteen ounces of solace.

Suddenly, the sun came out. The world seemed brighter. Unseen voices lifted on high.  

I turned a corner and beheld these drink holders. The hoodie made me laugh out loud and scare a lady. I would never in a million years use them, but the fact that they exist in the world makes me ridiculously happy and well worth the trip.

There’s a plotting device in the literary world called The Hero’s Journey. It’s a story where the main character goes on a quest, hits rock-bottom but somehow claws himself up to emerge triumphant, then returns home altered in some significant way.

Ideally with an Orange Julius.

Do you think I’ll ever put my hands on a ceramic muffin tin? Are there any retail resorts near you? Do you ever go? Did you hang out there as a teen?

10 thoughts on “Becky’s Heroic Journey”

  1. I remember Cinderella City. Cinder Alley was the best part, in my opinion–an underground separate portion of the mall, filled with odd little stores and neat places to eat. The whole thing was too big for me–and I’m told there are bigger ones now. Scary thought.

    I worked across the street from it in its last dwindling days. That was a sad experience, as stores closed and the halls got truly spooky. I miss the convenience that it offered, even if you did need to wear your comfiest shoes for the trek.

    1. I remember Cinder Alley! For some inexplicable reason my dad bought a pair of jeans patterned completely in river rocks. Pretty sure that’s where he bought them. I’d love to have asked him about it, but I suspect he would have said, “Why *wouldn’t* I buy pants with rocks on them?” And I’d have no answer for that.

  2. I live in an area that retail resorts are definitely a destination and to be honest I’m rarely tempted to visit. However, I live near an Outlet type of retail resort and in this remote island of shopping is a cookware store. In this, my favorite, store they have ceramic cookie sheets and muffin tins. Again, I’m not tempted. I do not own any Teflon coated bakeware or cookware, but the tried and true sheet metal. When it gets that patina people find unattractive I whip out a can of Easy Off and an SOS pad and in no time they are good as new.

    1. I’ll never get rid of my ancient cookie sheets because we can always get them, if not “clean,” at least “not disgusting.” But those muffin tins take WORK and I’m much too lazy for that.

  3. I lived in Denver in the mid 80’s and worked right across the street from Cinderella City. It wasn’t the bright new shiny thing at that point (Mall of America being the hot new Mall if memory serves.) but still pretty impressive to my eyes. I have such fond memories of Denver. Especially a Jewish Deli on Hampden Ave. I also have both the well worn cookie sheet and muffin tin inherited from my mom.

  4. This made me laugh because we just ‘retired’ our blackened sheets. At the last stage of their life, they were just for bacon only, which seemed fitting. Now my “middle” sheets — not as dark as these, but definitely not new/ used – have been moved up in the line to become the new bacon-only sheets. And brand new cookie sheets were given as a recent birthday present 😄 for cookies, etc. The old ones were probably from my very first apartment, over 30 years ago! Talk about longevity! Thanks for the smile!

    1. Back atcha, Katie! On our electronics we’ve begun the habit of writing the date we bought them on a piece of tape attached to the bottom of the device. Sometimes I wish we could have done that to everything. It makes no sense that we’ve had some of our kitchen stuff since 1983!! But at least we’d have proof. Or maybe provenance, as they get into antique territory!

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