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Valley of the Dolls

Teen and Not Heard: High school boys 'shop' at the mall, in this case, Valley Fair in San Jose.

The time-honored tradition of trolling the mall for dates lives on

By Traci Hukill

'YOU WANT TO KNOW WHY we come here?" asks 20-year-old Mike, swinging around to bird-dog a passing girl with a gentle swing to her walk. "That's why." The others guffaw and nod agreement. The scenery at Valley Fair can be breathtaking. Tom, who's slouched in his chair by the railing across from the food court, speaks up from under his baseball cap. "Basically, we come here when we're bored," he explains. "It takes up time." He graduated last year, lives at home and works part time. Recreation on a budget presents a problem for him.

"We just sort of hang out," concurs Chris, who goes to West Valley College.

"I come for the ladies," Vincent says. He lives on the East Side, where Eastridge Mall is the meeting place of choice. "I'm an 18-hour father," he adds. What he means is he visits his kid a couple of times a week. His son is 3.

"He's a good father," Tom says.

When they're not at the mall or working, they like to shoot pool or go to the Campbell Coffee Roasting Company in the Pruneyard. All of them say they smoke, except for Chris.

A few minutes later we come face-to-face with the reason boys go to malls. It giggles, it wears lip gloss and in this case, it's 13.

"We're gonna become singers someday," Rhiannon announces boisterously before introductions have even begun.

"Yeah, and there's this guy singer I know who's a rapper, and he said he'd help us," confirms a breathless Lorena, who could pass for 18 and probably does. Later, with a sidelong smirk at her less sophisticated friends, she confides that she "goes for" 20-year-olds.

Shawntrice looks downcast. "I don't like it when they talk about being famous," she says sullenly, "because I'm not going to be."

The others pay her no mind. Like lots of kids their age, Rhiannon and Lorena aren't interested in a simple life. In fact, nothing less than stardom will do.

I ask what they do when they're not at the mall.

"Chase boys," Rhiannon answers promptly.

"I take modeling and acting classes," Lorena boasts. "I take singing lessons, too."

"And I hang out with my friends and go to the movies," Rhiannon adds.

"We go downtown," Lorena says. "It's so embarrassing because the people there, they take pictures of me."

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From the Nov. 26-Dec. 3, 1997 issue of Metro.

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