I broke down and went shoe shopping recently. The old tennis shoes were in sad shape, so it was time for new ones. Most of my shopping trips are uneventful, but this one ended with a twist.
Shopping for me involves driving to the store, finding what I came for, swiping my card, and driving home. But Jilda’s shopping trips don’t roll that way. They involve a lot of looking, ooing, aahing, touching, trying on, pondering, looking some more, ooing some more, and so on.
Our niece Samantha and her son Jordan went with us on this particular trip. I was all for including him because like me, shopping is like visiting the dentist –– you have to do it from time to time, but we’d rather not make a habit of it.
The first part of the trip went fine. The Merrell store was in the first section of shops. I walked in with a laser focus, found two pairs of shoes, I tried them on, clomped around the store to make sure they felt right, paid the tab and we were out the door.
The original plans were to come home after buying my shoes, but unfortunately, there is also a Coach outlet in the mall as well.
There is an unwritten girl-rule that states: THOU SHALT NOT PASS BY A COACH STORE WITHOUT BROWSING. Jilda swears there were actually 11 Commandments, but the one about passing by the Coach store was left off by the men who transcribed them to the Bible.
When we walked out of the store it was 103 degrees in the shade and I could see the car, but the girls doubled teamed us. Samantha played dirty by offering to buy Jordan a Sponge Bob Square Pants popsicle to eat while they browsed.
He’s an impressionable child, and easily swayed by the promise of high fructose corn syrup and artificial coloring. We found a bench in the shade to let him enjoy his treat and the girls walked away smiling.
I soon realized eating the popsicle would become a race against time. The heat was melting the treat faster than he could lick it. Before long, most of Sponge Bob’s pants were running down Jordan’s chin, neck, and the front of his shirt.
When he finished, the girls had not returned so I started looking for the nearest restroom to clean him up. We twisted and turned down the halls behind the food court on our way to the men’s room.
He was lagging a few steps behind when I found the facilities and stepped inside. I keep a close watch on the seven-year-old while he’s in my care, so I called out for him to come inside.
It took only a moment to realize that something was different about this bathroom. I didn’t see any urinals on the walls, and just as I turned to find Jordan, I noticed the feet under a closed stall were wearing sandals with rhinestones.
The realization hit me like a pie in the face. Jordan opened the door tentatively and said, “Uh, Aunt Rick, I think you’re in the wrong bathroom.” (He still calls me Aunt Rick out of habit.) I almost ran over two women who were about to enter their bathroom.
By the time we crossed the hall to the Men’s room, Jordan was laughing hysterically. “YOU BETTER NOT TELL ANYONE I DID THAT,” I said with a bit of menace in my voice.
When we got outside the girls were waiting at our designated meeting place. He was still howling. Yes, he told them, and when we got home, he told his grandpa and grandma. In fact, he’s told every living relative about me going into the lady’s room. I’m surprised he didn’t rent a billboard.
I sometimes wonder how he will remember me when I’m gone. Will he remember me teaching him how to cast a fly rod, will he remember the games we played, or the songs we wrote together? While he loves learning and doing new things, I fear what he will remember is the time I went into the lady’s restroom.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book, Life Changes, is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.