Mercy and Gossip Girl star Michelle Trachtenberg sat coolly on a white painted Victorian couch in the middle of a cordoned-off section of the lobby of the Manhattan Mall last night, looking around at the massive scrum of photographers and sipping white wine out of a teacup. She had volunteered to show up to help out pal Charlotte Ronson, who was celebrating her "I Heart Ronson" line for JC Penney during Fashion's Night Out. We wondered aloud whether this was the first time in a while that Trachtenberg's been to a mall. "I go to the mall in LA, on nonmall hours," she told us, over the beat of Bob Marley being deejayed by Samantha Ronson, Charlotte's sister. "After 3 p.m., there's so many people that I get a little claustrophobic."
In fact, being in the Manhattan Mall that night dredged up a particularly bad memory from childhood. "If I'm not mistaken — like when I was like eight or nine, right before Harriet the Spy, when I was just doing commercials — I had finished filming a commercial with a bunch of other kids, and all of our moms took us to the food court in this mall," she said. "All the kids sat at one table, and all the moms sat at another table." It was around Christmastime and Trachtenberg was excited to give her list to Santa. "One of the boys was like, 'Well, you know Santa Claus doesn't exist.' And I was like, 'Yeah, I totally knew that. AAAAAUUUUGH.' I found out there was no Santa Claus in this mall. In the Manhattan Mall. But I covered it up. I wouldn't let the kid win. I was a good actress."