Friday, July 6, 2012

Countdown to Three

Here's my sacrilegious statement of the day: I hate root beer. This isn't like how I thought for the first 25 years of my life that I hated barbecue sauce, and it turned out that I love barbecue sauce, just not the crappy kinds I had been exposed to in cafeterias and such, my parents not being the type to purchase much barbecue sauce. I genuinely dislike root beer. I've tasted "good" root beer (and have decided none exists) and bad root beer, and have decided that's what evil tastes like.

Tomorrow, my daughter turns three.

Those two things might seem unrelated, but they're really not. Whenever we have a family get together, I have to go to Sam's Club and purchase the requisite bulk Ballpark Beef Hot Dogs (not the creepy tri-meat "franks") and six hundred rolls. My husband regards it as a grave offense if I step foot in the store and don't leave with a 24 case of IBC. And so it goes.

Today I loaded the girls into the car and we drove off in high spirits.

"Mommy!" Mary gushed from the backseat. "When I pick up my hair, it looks brown, but when I set it down it looks blondie! That's so INTERESTING!"

"When I put my hand out the window, it does nuffin," said Guess Who.

"Wonder pets, wonder pets, we're ON OUR WAY-"

"To do NUFFIN!"

Okay, high spirits for us.

Arrive at Sam's Club, thank God for the dual basket in the front which allows me to restrain both Anna and Lily, and awkwardly push the cart into the store, with Mary "helping" me push. Since we're there anyway, I also take the time to restock the pantry, as our diced tomato, Goldfish and pretzel rod stash has dwindled down to crumbs. We're doing well until we hit the meat section, where my choices of hamburger patties are thus: Shrink-wrapped dark red patties as thick as a baby's wrist that are certainly delicious and also certainly out of the budget, or a cardboard box of frozen beef patties, 40 for $19, that are almost certainly made out of eyeballs and other bits of "beef." Stop and Shop it is, then.

Hit the soda aisle, where I grab a 32 pack of bottled water and the IBC, and whereupon pushing my cart becomes a Sisyphean effort due to the extra weight and the contortionist antics of one eleven month old who has decided sitting compliantly is for losers.

"I GONNA STAND UP!" Anna announces, practically dislocating a kneecap in an effort to make her statement fact.

"If you do that we will leave everything here and there will be no party tomorrow I promise you," I hiss in one single stream.

She sits.

We hit the checkout, Mary loudly attempting to make friends with everyone, Lily loudly attempting to stand up and smash her head on the warehouse floor, and Anna loudly announcing she likes "NUFFIN" over and over.

I should have known the line was trouble from the start, when the group of three in front of me are all paying separately and are also blocking the remaining open section of conveyor belt, despite having unloaded all their purchases. I smile at the youngest woman, who looks to be in her 40s. She stares past me with dead eyes. I walk up to them, reach around them and place the little plastic divider on the belt. They remain motionless, forcing me to step almost on top of them to load the belt. Finally, it's Dead Eyes' turn and she moves out of the way to watch the clerk scan her items.

The items are scanned, their cart is loaded, and I smile at the clerk. I hand him the UPC sticker off one of the watermelons (yes, plural, yes, I have issues, and yes, it's genetic) and my membership card. "There are two," I say.

"Okay," he shrugs, and goes to swipe my card.


It's Dead Eyes and she is angry. She keeps pointing to her receipt. I'm trying not to eavesdrop, as eavesdropping and shooting her the death glare (seriously, go to customer service, the transaction is complete and he can't fix it now) are difficult, but apparently, she bought something on promotion. She got the promotional price, but the full price showed up on the ticket, with the discount of the total.

"I WANT TO RETURN THIS AND REBUY IT SHOWING THE PRICE I PAID," she keeps saying. Two people join our line and quickly vacate it. Clerk calls over one manager, then two. Lily starts wailing. A woman gets in line behind us.

"You might want to pick another line," I say.

"Oh, I don't mind," she says, thinking I am warning her off my children.

"No," I said, "They-" here I look over at the mass of people surrounding the register, "have been trying to work whatever this is-" another look "out for about ten minutes now."

She blanches. She joins the line next to us. She checks out before I do. Dead Eyes is finally convinced to walk with the manager over to - who would ever have guessed? - customer service by the promise of a new, different receipt. The other two in the group stay talking to the other manager and blocking the place where I need to put my cart so my items can be stacked.

The clerk stacks my groceries. He places the hamburger and hot dog buns in the seat formerly occupied by Lily. Anna makes eyes at the buns. I go to move them so she doesn't squish them. Mary attempts to help me move the buns and squishes them. We pay and walk out into the blinding Friday afternoon heat, after I strap Lily back in, as a million ton cart is hard to maneuver through a parking lot with one hand.

We can see our car in the stadium-sized lot when the cart suddenly lurches violently. The root beer has slid forward and fallen onto the pavement. I mutter a few curse words out of my kids' earshot and stoop to pick up the fallen case.


Of course.

One of the bottles has hit the pavement in just such a way that the cap has gotten a tiny hole. Out of this hole, the contents of the bottle are spewing at impressive velocity.

I get the kids in the car, load the groceries, and regard the bottle, which is still dripping. I decide to leave it in the cart, because the only other alternative is to drink it or have my car soaked, and I already hate root beer. So I go to push the car back into the corral, and the bottle falls off the bottom rack, starts spinning wildly and fizzing even more violently, and covers me from ankle to knee in root beer.

Of course.

I tried to call my husband for sympathy.

"So is it all gone?" he asked morosely.

  "No, just one bottle," I answered bitterly.

"Well, that's okay then."

We got home and Lily immediately cheered up upon receiving a cracker. She grinned and babbled and grabbed Anna's Lalaloopsy doll by the feet and started violently hitting it on the ground.

Some days, I know how that doll feels.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to shower before the flies take notice.


  1. Oh, muffin. I did that once with a case of Vanilla Coke. You will remember that I drink no carbonated beverages of the nonalcoholic variety. Even looking at Vanilla Coke makes me want to gag to this day.

  2. I think you are my doppleganger. You, in vivid detail, just described my day. And every day before that. My children are now perplexed by the site of mommy shouting 'Yes! YES!!! Someone knows what I'm talking about! It isn't JUST me!' at the computer. I suddenly feel validated and extremely relaxed. Thanks, doll. ; )