Following the closure of the Virginia Center Commons mall in Glen Allen, we decided to take a trip down memory lane with a mall that’s been a landmark of the I-95/I-295 junction. One of our veteran staffers and a Henrico native, Jake, had a nostalgic memory he wanted to reminisce about in the form of a sentimental editorial.
My name is Jake. I got my first handjob behind the Virginia Center Common Sears. This is my story.
The year was 1998. I was 18-years-old at the time. New music from Destiny’s Child and Pearl Jam dominated the radio stations, and the only reasons you went downtown were for a show at The Flood Zone and… nothing else. As a West End resident living in the ‘burbs before Short Pump had a movie theater or a mall, Virginia Center Commons was often a Friday night hangout spot with my friends.
I’d usually catch a ride with my friend Andrew in his two-door Honda Civic, getting there around 5 p.m. We’d hit the arcade for a bit, maybe check out a film, but we’d mostly just hang out and listen to music and make jokes about Clinton and his interns. Those were the days.
One night, after downing a couple of Yuenglings that Andrew’s older brother brought us, we were jamming out in the arcade, full swing into Area 51. That’s when I saw her — she was so beautiful. Her eyes sparkled like the reflecting shine from an aluminum PBR can floating in the James River. She was hotter than a flaming couch on Grace Street. I knew she was something special. Her name was Molly.
We started talking, and small talk turned into a game of air hockey, and a game of air hockey turned into a bet — whoever wins the best two of three games gets a prize. I quickly borrowed a few extra quarters from Andrew (I actually haven’t paid him back; if you’re reading this, Andrew, I haven’t forgotten. If you can find me on Facebook, I’ll Venmo you.)
Part of me wanted to let her win, you know, like a true gentleman. But half of me wanted to claim victory so I could see what her prize to me would be. That latter half got the better of me, and I won the first two games with relative ease.
“So, what’s my prize?” I asked with gleeful eagerness.
“Well, I guess you’ll have to come with me to find out,” she responded as she started to walk away.
Without hesitation, I followed — and mere minutes later, I found myself in an alleyway next to the Sears store.
“Let’s hang out here for a bit, shall we?”
Before I could get a response out, both her body and her lips were against mine. Now, I must admit, that my sexual experiences up to this point were mostly minimal. Not to say that my hormones weren’t in overdrive, but I was relatively inexperienced with partners. I could feel her hands moving around my waistline, below my black fanny pack — and before I knew it, we were “one” and I was deep into my first quickie. While I admittedly didn’t last long before it was over, I collected my prize like a champ, and it’s a memory I’ll never forget. The beautiful thing about Richmond is that it’s a small community and easy to leave your mark in certain places. My mark will forever be on the dirty alleyway next to that now-defunct Sears or whatever they put in its place.
Virginia Center Commons will always have a special place in our hearts — it gave us so many memories over the years. But for me, the softest spot in my heart will forever be next to that Sears on that one Friday evening in 1998. Molly, if you’re out there, I hope you’re well. Also, I’m on Facebook.