At Last

Del Amo Fashion Center (Torrance, California) is one of the largest shopping malls in the United States. It was actually the largest one from 1981 to 1992. In the late 1980s, my paternal grandmother offered to go here with her grandchildren and buy us one toy each. I was around 10 or 12. My two sisters and two cousins were almost as excited as I was. Toys were sacred to me as a child. I used to wait to open them and stare at their unopened packages just to savor the moments. As huge as this mall was, there were only two toy stores. They were at opposite ends of the mall. My parents decided to drop all of us off at one end and pick us up at the other end. This way we could hit both toy stores and get some good exercise. When we got to the first toy store, I found the toy I wanted. It was a Freddy Krueger figurine from the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise. I brought it to my grandmother. She refused to buy it because she felt that it would probably be cheaper at the other toy store. We soon left the first toy store and walked all the way to the second one. Of course, this second toy store did not carry the item. When I told her that the Freddy Krueger figurine was the only toy I wanted, she looked me straight in the eye and said, “You certainly don’t expect me to walk all the way back there, do you?” I was furious. I was the only grandchild who did not go home with a toy. I am ashamed to admit that I still get angry whenever the memory pops up. My parents purchased the figurine for me about two weeks later and my grandmother reimbursed them. She reached 86 and passed away in 2004. One of her favorite songs was At Last (1960) by Etta James. It is also one of mine.