2:35: Find killer spot outside Zellers at Big Behemoth Mall. Better than all the “This Spot Reserved for Mothers With Small Children” spaces. Eat that, bitch in a Lexus who cut me off to get one.
2:40: Baby is in stroller, preschooler is de-jacketed for comfort. Everyone has juice, and we can now proceed.
2:42: Son curls his own ears shut to avoid hearing “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s, being played softly over the store’s PA system. The “it” song of the summer angers my 4 year old to the extent he is willing to maim himself temporarily to avoid hearing it.
2:57: Push the up button to summon the elevator. Get in the elevator. Two women with mall employee name tags are inside the car already. Elevator descends instead of rising. This stop is not listed as an option on the keypad. Doors open into the bowels of the world’s largest mall. One of the women gets out. I push button repeatedly to get us back above ground. The other woman in the elevator with us exhales. “I can’t imagine working down there. I mean, it’s bad enough that we can’t tell if it’s night or day, raining or sunny while we’re in this damn mall. But down there….”. She gets out. I stare at the back of her head, wondering what goes on “down there….”.
3:22: Reach the pet store. This was the purpose of the trip today. We’ve been distracted by two specialty (read: expensive) toy stores and a smoothie kiosk, but we’re here now. Stride past the puppies, kitties, and other marquee animals. We are here for a fish.
3:26: Finally get a salesperson to pay attention to us. Son makes her wish maybe she hadn’t. Does this by asking questions like, “How do you know if it’s a girl or a boy fish?” “What color is their poop?” “Are you a fish expert?” “If he passes away, will he see my great grandma in heaven?”
3:40: Get 3rd set of instructions for care and upkeep of fish. One set from salesperson, one from directions on fishbowl, one from teenager behind the counter. All 3 are different, and somewhat conflicting. Why do I feel like I’ll be back here buying this fish’s brother in 2 days?
3:45: Have made it halfway down the mall. Juggling bag with fish inside, stroller, purse, and discarded smoothie. Look down and notice baby girl is waving something around in front of her. Look closer. It is her shirt. She has stripped herself to the waist, is grinning like a maniac, and swinging her shirt over her head a la Girls Gone Wild. I laugh. So hard I can’t breathe, and tears stream down my face. Passersby look concerned. I laugh even harder.