My husband started a new job at a university this week. This is wonderful because it's in a field he really enjoys, but last week it was a total pain because we had to find some place that would sell a very specific train ticket and somehow that necessitated all five of us driving through Providence at rush hour. And then the phone rang, and it was our friend Roxy.
Roxy, like me, runs kids' birthday parties, but she works for a company that sends "princesses" to little kids' houses to add that star power to any preschooler's party. She was in the area, heading to her brother's for dinner, and mentioned she was dressed as The Little Mermaid, and would Mary and Anna like to meet Ariel?
"Mary," I said, as we waited in the parking lot that is downtown Providence after 5 p.m., "how would you like Ariel to come visit our house?"
Mary started positively shaking in her car seat. "Yes! Oh yes! Ariel is my favorite!" (Mary once told me Ariel is her favorite because "she wears bras and her bra is purple," for background information. That's my kid, four going on fourteen.)
So we battled traffic, got home, gave the girls a little dinner, and before you could say "under the sea," Roxy came up the walk in a fabulous red wig, complete with sea-themed hair decoration, a purple clamshell bra and skirt that looked like a very convincing fin. She greeted the girls and even had the voice down pat, and Mary was entranced.
Anna dropped the shyness long enough to start pontificating about "dat movie you're in," and mentioned several times that "dere's a shark in dat movie, and he wanned to eat you UP!"
"Yes, but Flounder and I got away," "Ariel" trilled.
"There was a shark in your movie," Anna repeated.
"Yes..." Ariel said. "I can't stay too much longer, I have to go to my mermaid sisters' for dinner!" (Side note: we are also friends with Roxy's older brother, I mean, mermaid sister.)
"Your sisters?" Mary asked. "What are their names?"
And without a moment's hesitation, Roxy named them all. Lady knew her stuff! She talked about Scuttle, and Prince Erik, and all kinds of movie trivia and Mary was totally buying it, and Anna wasn't hiding, but our time was drawing to a close and I could tell I needed to wrap things up.
"Mary, Anna," I said. "Ariel has to go back to the sea and have dinner. What do you say to her?"
"Thank you!" she said.
"You're welcome," Ariel replied.
"I like your boobs."
Have you ever wondered what it's like to be in a room and have all the oxygen sucked out of it? Ariel blushed. Tim tried unsuccessfully to turn a snort into a cough. I attempted to become one with the chair cushions. It didn't work.
"I...think she means your bra," I said, offering all of us a life preserver. (It was a pretty nice costume.)
"I'm sure that's it," Roxy said, gathering her things.
"Yeah!" Mary yelled. "MOMMY DOESN'T WEAR BRAS!"
Like that, I wanted to exclaim. Mommy doesn't wear purple bras that look like damned seashells. But somehow, the moment had already passed us by.